Fallout from Taking a Knee

Colin Kaepernick was the man who began this kneeling protest. Photo credit: Michael Zagaris

Colin Kaepernick was the man who began this kneeling protest. Photo credit: Michael Zagaris

Kneeling during the anthem… is it justified protest or outright disrespect?

Knees began to touch the sidelines of national football fields on August 26, 2016 but not in a manner traditional to a football game. During the 2017 NFL season, there have been a large number of players protesting police brutality. Their chosen method of protest is to silently take a knee during the National Anthem.  With all cameras focused on the kneeling players, this has become a cause of mass controversy among viewers of the NFL. On the one hand, these professional players are using their platform to protest a topic that they feel strongly about. On the other hand, they are disrespecting the country by kneeling during the national anthem. This controversy has cost the NFL millions of dollars from people who refuse to support these players disrespecting the country.

Those in favor of the protests are represented by Julia Skeen (’18) and Nathaniel Thomas (’18). Nathaniel says that they are exercising their right to protest and they are using it to protest something good so therefore it is just. Julia believes that the anger coming toward the NFL players is misplaced and that the people who dislike the protest don’t really know what the protests are about. Her argument is that “The players are using their platform to reach out to their audience to make them understand the harm their race has been caused from police brutality.” The players are simply trying to spread awareness.

Dylan Cake (’18) ultimately thinks what they are doing is okay. Dylan says “I’m fine with it, as long as they are protesting something of meaning”. Dylan said that he was okay with their protests, but he did also recognize how disrespectful what they are doing is. His opinion however was that even though it is a disrespectful act, the kneeling before the game was getting attention for what they were doing, so in the end it was alright. Many others have similar feelings as Dylan. Some people, for example New Orleans Saints quarterback, Drew Brees agree with the protest but not the way they are protesting. Brees says “It’s an oxymoron that you’re sitting down, disrespecting that flag that has given you the freedom to speak out.”

Those against the protests usually have an outlook similar to Gabby Lascari (’18). Gabby thinks that it is ridiculous. To kneel during the national anthem of our country is incredibly disrespectful. Gabby added, “These players are getting paid millions and then they disrespect the country they live in like this.”  It seems fairly absurd that these players kneel before the flag that has given them the right to speak their mind about an issue that is generally unrelated to the national anthem.  Other arguments similar to Gabby’s include that this protest is a massive disrespect to our men and women in the army  – those who fought for the freedom of the players kneeling during the national anthem.

No matter what you think about the protests, in general most everyone can agree that the protests are causing a divide, between fans as well as teammates.  If no action is taken by the NFL Commissioner, the NFL franchise owners, or the coaches, this divide will continue to grow. Unfortunately, there is no foreseeable end to this controversy.