We stand united, we kneel divided
It’s a Sunday afternoon in a sold-out football stadium. Fans are pumped, players are ready to go, and the singer is about to perform the National Anthem.
As the music begins, tension builds. Some players link arms, some slowly kneel, and others never make it to the field.
The media has exploded over this kneeling controversy.
This recent trend originated with last seasons’ 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, who knelt because of various social issues relating to the treatment of African Americans today.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” said Kaepernick to the National Football League (NFL) media last football season.
Currently, players have different reasons for kneeling, some purely responding to President Trump’s tweets, and others not supporting social justice issues.
Yes, players are exercising their right to free speech. Yes, this is a peaceful demonstration.
But I can’t help but wonder a few things.
Do the players really think they are achieving any long lasting effects? Although this does draw attention to these issues and create conversation on the subject, in the long run, these football players are not contributing much to a solution.
Pretty soon, many football teams, maybe all of them, will kneel during the National Anthem. Eventually, this will come to a dead end.
Police brutality and President Trump’s offensive candor will not be solved by kneeling. NFL players can’t claim to make an actual difference by merely kneeling before football games because re-establishing that there is a problem does not solve the problem.
In fact, kneeling is almost counter-productive. It brings attention to the negative issues in America instead of focusing on what Americans can do to improve our country.
The players and coaches who stand, arm in arm, are closer to a solution than those who kneel. Standing together highlights unity, the ultimate goal, whereas kneeling creates even more division.
— Tomi Lahren (@TomiLahren) September 24, 2017
Tomi Lahren, a Fox News political commentator, said “Respect, honor and love of country isn’t a white thing or a Conservative thing, or a Trump supporter thing. It’s an American thing.”
I’m all for the First Amendment, free speech, and exercising it. But only in appropriate situations.
Football games are where players perform their jobs. Just like any other job, it is supposed to be a professional environment, not a protest party.
“I do not think the place to express yourself in society is as we recognize the American flag…So that’s not the place to do anything other than honor the flag and everybody that’s given up a little bit for it,” said Jerry Jones, the general manager of the Dallas Cowboys.
“I’ve never been prouder of an association with players, with a coaching staff, as I am with this crew” -Jerry Jones
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) September 26, 2017
It’s true that professional athletes have a huge platform to promote causes they are passionate about, but it should be done separately from their job. Sure, football games have thousands of people watching, but one can figure that each football player has thousands of Twitter followers, too.
“They can do free speech on their own time … they have a right to have their free speech off the field …[but] this is a job,” said the treasury secretary, Steve Mnunich, to ABC News.
Sundays are for football, and the media is for politics. Try to keep the two separate because there are other ways to show support in American issues than to disrupt a sporting event.
Society today has problems. Big problems, and many people are aware of them. But instead of focusing on the problems, let’s focus on the solutions.