Last Wednesday, the NFL Owners and the powers that be decided that there would no longer be any protests of the national anthem. They instead implemented a new rule in which any player caught kneeling and not ‘Respecting’ or ‘Honoring’ the American Flag could cost their respective team 15 yards before the game even starts. The alternative would be that the team can decide to simply stay inside the locker room while the anthem is being played. The league also made it clear that a player who ‘Disrespects the flag’ on the sidelines could face a fine for his actions.
To better understand why this rule was put into place, we’d have to travel back to August 14, 2016, when then 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick sat during the anthem. When questioned about his reasoning behind this, Kaepernick explained that this was his way of protesting the racism and police brutality that many African Americans have faced before and around that time. He also said that he was going to persist with his protests until something was done to achieve a greater sense of unity as a nation.
Kap first started kneeling on September 1st of that year and that was just the spark that ignited this long burning fire that has been as divisive to the NFL world as our President has been to our country. The protests continued into the previous NFL season with President Donald Trump claiming that players who kneel or protest should be kicked out of the league, (and that was just last year around week 3). In response, every NFL team found their own unique way to express unity.
The tensions were continuing to rise, many people stopped watching the NFL claiming that these players were disrespecting the flag. Despite the fact that Kaepernick and several other players made it clear that they were trying to call for a positive change. These attempts for change resulted in a big step backwards when the new rules that were put into place or are about to be enforced.
What many people don’t realize is that athletes who have made political statements isn’t something that’s unprecedented. The 1968 Olympics had Black runners raise their fists during the anthem, Muhammed Ali protested the Vietnam War, etc. So the anthem protests here is simply history just repeating itself.
Honestly, I feel that as long as those protesting the flag are being proactive for the same reasons that Kaepernick has been, then there’s no problem. Since his initial protests, Kaepernick has donated at least 1 million bucks to various charities that go with his cause. One example is when he gave Keith Livingston’s charity 100 Suits for 100 Men. The charity which provides decent clothes to people that have limited job shots when they leave prison.
These protests might also be able to get the ball rolling on the conversation about the still present issue of racism and police brutality. While there are many people out there that find this to be uncalled for, I just want to ask you one question, do you think that the issues here are NOT worth talking about? Are the issues these players protesting nonexistent? If you ask these questions and come to reasonable conclusions, maybe you’ll feel that these protests are not as offensive as you may think at first.