Scoot: National Anthem and what I saw in the Superdome

October 16, 2017 - 10:35 am

With the weeks of heated debate over the controversy of kneeling during the National Anthem, I was interested to see what the reaction of the Saints players and the fans would be when the Saints returned to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome Sunday.

As the color guard was announced and the volunteers moved into place to unfurl the huge American flag for the singing of our National Anthem, my eyes were on the Saints players; and at that moment, numerous players took a knee. 

The National Anthem had not yet started; but as the players took a knee the public address announcer asked the crowd to remember slain NOPD officer Marcus McNeil with a moment of silence. His picture then appeared on the big screens in the stadium.

As the players knelt, many fans began to boo loudly.  The fans were actually booing as the announcement for the moment of silence for the fallen officer began and as his picture appeared on the screens in the stadium.  The kneeling and the booing coincided with the beginning of the tribute to Officer McNeil.

For the record, the Saints players asked for the moment of silence as a tribute to Officer McNeil.  The players were not kneeling to protest the police, in general, as the moment of silence was announced.  The Saints report that not one reporter asked any of the players about their intent to kneel.  As I write this blog, I have not heard any reporter address the issue of the players’ intent.

In every communication process there is intent and reception.  The intent of any communication does not always match how it is received or interpreted.  From my seat in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, I felt like the players that were kneeling had done so as a precursor to the National Anthem to show support for inequality in America.  It seemed that with the timing of the players kneeling and the beginning of the tribute to Officer McNeil, the fans were booing the players for kneeling during at the beginning of the moment of silence.  Was this a total misunderstanding?

As controversial as kneeling for the National Anthem is, I could not image that any of the Saints players were protesting a fallen police officer.  I think the fans that booed the players because they thought they were kneeling and showing disrespect for Officer McNeil misinterpreted the intent of the kneeling.

What happened before the Saints/Lions game yesterday brings us to an example of how the rush to judgment and the rigidity of initial opinions – even if proven wrong – contribute to an intensely divided America.

How many of the fans who booed because they thought the players were showing disrespect for the NOPD officer will admit that the players’ kneeling was not in protest of the officer?  By booing when they did, it also appeared the fans were being disrespectful to the moment of silence for slain Officer McNeil. 

The timing of both the players kneeling and the fans booing was unfortunate; but from my perspective in the stadium Sunday, I did not feel as if the players were showing disrespect.  I have to assume the fans that booed were not trying to be disrespectful either.

What anyone originally thought should yield to the actual – not the perceived – intent of the players kneeling.  But as we so often see, facts are not determined by what really happened – facts are not determined by what people want to believe happened.

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