Michaela Bush – Columnist
A hot topic is causing quite a stir in the world of sports; the National Football League (NFL) allowing players to kneel during the national anthem has become an issue for some. Technically a form of free speech, this type of protest is seen from many different perspectives.
Thus, we ask: why are some players kneeling or choosing to stay in their locker rooms during our country’s national anthem?
Football players cited protesting the current administration and its practices as reason to kneel. Multiple players are unhappy with the current state of affairs, and they protest in response according to a recent New York Times article.
Most players, including Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers, state that they mean no disrespect toward the military. These seem like weak arguments in a sense because a nation that causes these players to have no dissatisfaction seems to be the remedy for their protests.
Some perceive kneeling for the “Star-Spangled Banner” as a way that they can stand up against President Donald Trump. Others see it as an insult to our country and the soldiers who have fought for it.
The anthem, however, is not at all an allegiance to our president and has not been since it was penned in 1814 by Francis Scott Key. Standing for the anthem has traditionally translated to standing up for our country as a nation that is much freer than other countries may be; the United States is a place where people can largely live free of the fear that they might be killed or jailed for committing an act such as ignoring or disrupting the national anthem.
This national anthem is not about politicians but about the country that we all appreciate to some level because we use our freedom to speak for things we like and speak against those we do not, including our government.
Something to consider when thinking about this issue is what exactly football players are protesting against? I do not believe the current administration is a proper response because the topic of Trump’s leadership is too broad.
If players are expressing themselves for equality, what kind of equality are they looking for? If protestors do not speak out with reasonable, legitimate topics honed down to a single issue, it will be difficult to garner interest because nobody will know what the protestors are working toward.
In Simon Sinek’s book “Start with Why,” he states that unless people understand why others are motivated to do something, nothing will happen since nobody will be able to identify emotionally to the purpose.
NFL player Colin Kaepernick started kneeling for the anthem in 2016 as a way of protesting against police brutality. Regardless of others’ views on police brutality, he at least had a singular purpose driving his protest. Some recent protestors do not or have not spoken out about it.
Rather than protesting vaguely by ignoring the anthem as it plays, it could help to refine and create “mission statements.”
Regardless of what our political views are or what we believe and fight for, being thoughtful, deliberate and impactful can be helpful when doing something as major as kneeling during the anthem.