Are NFL players biting the hand that feeds them? Colin Kaepernick, formerly with the San Francisco 49ers, started a trend of taking a knee during the National Anthem. It was a silent protest to show support for people of color who are oppressed, and to bring attention to police violence.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” the quarterback stated. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Kaepernick is taking a knee for what he believes in, even though it has come at a cost. He has been called a “toxic grandstander,” faced racist reactions, and sacrificed a portion of his fan base. CK is not deterred by the backlash, and is prepared to take a financial hit. He knows that sticking to your morals comes with a price.
Players from the New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos and the Miami Dolphins have joined Kaepernick in solidarity. Their actions against injustice have been called rebellious, disrespectful and childish. Detractors think these players are being unpatriotic and disrespecting the flag, and that there should be a law forcing them to stand. President Trump has even stated they should be fired because of their actions.
You can cut the hypocrisy in this country with a very dull knife.
Kaepernick and his supporters may be alienating fans and hurting ratings with their protests, but this is an educational moment for Americans. We seem to have no problem with football stars whoring for corporations (endorsements), yet we don’t want them taking a moral stand? CK and his fellow players are expected to place their hands over their hearts and pretend that the National Anthem and the flag do not represent hypocrisy? Thankfully, instead of creating a show of patriotic piety they are making a show of integrity.
These NFL players are doing what they believe is right. The repercussions only prove it.
I’m all for NFL players expressing their political opinion against unjust government and police violence. It’s a thought-provoking and highly visible way to raise awareness on an important issue. Protesting systemic racism is one of the most patriotic things you can do. Why not let NFL players make their point as long as it remains peaceful and lawful? Isn’t that what freedom is all about?
More than one angry fan has stated that athletes should stick to sports and stay out of politics, somehow forgetting that our commander in chief was an actor/businessman who became involved in politics. The only reason that players are on the field during the national anthem is because of politics. In 2009 the Department of Defense paid the NFL millions to put on soldier-worship displays for recruiting efforts. Prior to that, all players stayed in the locker rooms during the nation’s official hymn.
On a side note, I’m sick of the militarization of sports.
I’m not a football fan, but I think these protests are the best thing to come out of the NFL. Players are sports entertainers, not political mascots. It’s wrong for President Trump to stifle their freedom of expression and punish them for exercising their constitutionally protected rights. Patriotism isn’t about taking a stand for America, right or wrong. It’s about making our country better a better place to live.
I support CK and other NFL players who take a knee before the game. Black athletes have a tremendous responsibility to their fans, young and old. Americans should recognize the weight of the issue they are speaking on. We have many concerns that need to be addressed in this county, but none more important than social injustice.
There are many ways to speak up for those who don’t have the ability to create change. Kneeling during the national anthem is how football players choose to do it. Here in America we can stand up (or kneel) for important causes, including racial oppression and police violence. Colin Kaepernick and other players have a right to peaceful protest. If that makes you uncomfortable … well, that’s kind of the point. If you don’t agree with someone kneeling during the national anthem and see it as a slap in the face to our soldiers, here’s a simple solution: turn off your TV, don’t buy NFL merchandise, and stop attending games.
There, problem solved.
Tim Martin resides in Fortuna and contributes this column to the Times-Standard. Email him at email@example.com.