I do not like to make things political, and I can honestly admit that I’m first in line when it comes to wanting politics to stay out of my sports. They are my source of entertainment, and I simply want to relax from the stress of the world and enjoy them. However, we have reached a point where there is so much hatred and bigotry in the world that sticking strictly to sports is simply impossible. So I would like to provide an honest perspective on my change of emotion regarding the NFL protests.
Personally, do I think kneeling during the National Anthem is wrong? Absolutely! A year ago when Colin Kaepernick first decided to make a stand by sitting on the bench during the national anthem, I like many could not understand why a young man with the privilege of making millions of dollars by playing the game he loves be so disrespectful to the country that allows him that privilege through the bravery and sacrifice of the men and women willing to risk their lives for this great nation. However, President Trump’s comments this weekend prove why athletes and celebrities must use their power, platform, and voice to speak up for what is good and right in the world (Choose wisely).
At a rally in Alabama, President Trump made the following remarks, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!” (https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/22/donald-trump-nfl-national-anthem-protests). Most of us are at the mercy of our employers in regards to the amount of social and political activism we can display on company time, and many are even limited in regards to the social media posts they are allowed to make on their own time. So, I can understand where President Trump is coming from, but as a leader he should be asking, “Why sir are you kneeling?”
Colin Kaepernick felt strongly enough about the social and racial injustice in this country that he was willing to use his platform (The NFL), likely the largest platform in the country, to make a statement about what he felt was right. Last year in an exclusive interview with NFL Media he said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. 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” (http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000691077/article/colin-kaepernick-explains-why-he-sat-during-national-anthem). Mind you, he agreed to stand for The National Anthem if signed this year, because he already brought a voice to his cause.
One has to be ridiculously narrow minded and short sighted to not see that social and racial injustices are still major issues in this country, and Colin decided to take a stand to help bring this issue to the attention of a greater audience. Unfortunately for him, many of us chose to be short sighted and protest his lack of patriotism, when in fact he is probably more patriotic than all of us whom have not enlisted to fight for this country. “Patriot: a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion; a person who regards himself or herself as a defender, especially of individual rights, against presumed interference by the federal government” (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/patriot). By definition he is a patriot, (I am not even going to get into his charity work) because he risked his livelihood to bring a voice to the beliefs he was passionate about.
It serves the values of The United States of America for individuals with influence and power to stand up for those without it, and while I did not agree when he did it, I recognize why Colin Kaepernick had to use his platform to bring attention to this. It has been over a year since he decided to sit for his beliefs, and our government refuses to acknowledge and discuss the issues he and others have brought to their attention. Instead the government has used the peaceful protests of Kaepernick and other NFL players to redirect attention away from their cause and slander their names.
Were the acts of protest displayed this Sunday anti the President and the government? I cannot say that for a fact, but how could they not be? Any one of us would want to take a stand against a person or group that used such derogatory language about us, and as Americans we have the right to peacefully protest that, just as the NFL players chose to do. Ben Franklin under the pen name Silence DoGood said, “Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty, without freedom of speech; which is the right of every man, as far as by it, he does not hurt or control the right of another. And this is the only check it ought to suffer, and the only bounds it ought to know” (http://www.ushistory.org/franklin/courant/issue49.htm). It would serve us all well to remember that, as our great nation is as divided as ever.
So whether you agree or not with what the players did and do moving forward, the purpose of a protest is to express disapproval in something, and as Americans we should listen to what our brothers and sisters have to say and work together to build each other up instead of being hateful and divisive. Since the NFL started this stand, I leave you with the words of the man himself, Vince Lombardi, “People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society” (http://www.vincelombardi.com/quotes.html).
Written with Love,