To Kneel Or Not To Kneel
Recently, the National Football League has been gaining political attention due to players kneeling, linking arms, raising fists, sitting, or staying in the locker room during the Star Spangled Banner. Some participants chose not to stand because of their political views on President Donald Trump while others take part in order to raise awareness of racial injustice and police brutality in America. These demonstrations have had mixed reactions; many believe that this act is unpatriotic and combines two opposites, politics and sports, while others think that the protest is appropriate and allows players to express their personal opinions in a peaceful manner.
This peaceful protest was originally started by Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, during the fall of 2016. Initially, Kaepernick went unnoticed sitting on the bench during the Star Spangled Banner of the first preseason game, but that quickly changed. By the time the third preseason game rolled around, Kaepernick was not alone. He had been joined by hundreds; women, marching band members, soccer players, high school and college players, cheerleaders, basketball players, singers, and even political figures. Megan Rapinoe, a player for the National Women’s Soccer League and a participant in kneeling during the national anthem, said, “as a gay American I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties…it’s important to have white people stand in support of people of color on this.” LeSean McCoy, a NFL running back for the Buffalo Bills, agreed saying, “I can’t stand and support something where the leader of our country is just acting like a jerk, you know, angry and upset about NFL players protesting in a peaceful manner.”
On top of this controversy, the world of Twitter has totally transformed this movement. President Trump, along with several others, have fueled the debate of whether or not it is right to kneel during the national anthem. Trump has been very active on Twitter and has recently put out a number of tweets regarding the kneel-or-not argument. A series of tweets read, “The NFL has decided that it will not force players to stand for the playing of our National Anthem. Total disrespect for our great country!” In another tweet he said, “Two dozens NFL players continue to kneel during the National Anthem, showing total disrespect to our Flag & Country. No leadership in NFL!” and “Too much talk, not enough action. Stand for the National Anthem.” Others on Twitter have said, “As a member of the [East Carolina University] marching band, it’s in your job description to stand & PLAY the national anthem #disgusted #disappointed.” Despite these strong opinions, many school and sports leagues are still supporting their players’ actions. After twelve members of the marching band knelt at a broadcasted ECU football game, the school released a statement saying that the school “respects the rights of our students, staff and faculty to express their personal views.”
Americans are sharply divided. A recent CNN poll concluded that 43% of Americans believe kneeling is the right thing to do, while 49% believe it is the wrong thing and disrespects our country, leaders, and the military.