Scoot: New protests of National Anthem at NFL games

August 22, 2017 - 11:18 am

Last night, protesting injustice in America grew last night when a group of players from the Cleveland Browns knelt during the National Anthem before their game.  Adding to the impact of the protest, a group of players stood around the kneeling players to show their support; and that group included Browns punter Britton Colquitt, who was the third white player to show support for the protest.

Friday night, Eagles defensive end Chris Long placed his arm on fellow defender Malcolm Jenkins, who raised his right hand in a fist during the National Anthem.

Seahawks center Justin Britt put his hand on the shoulder of kneeling Seahawks player Michael Bennett during the National Anthem.

These recent protests follow renewed criticism of NFL teams for seemingly boycotting QB Colin Kaepernick, who remains unsigned even as a backup quarterback.  The NAACP of Georgia has threatened to stop football in the state if Kaepernick is not signed to a team.  How they would stop football in the state remains a mystery.

The fact that Colin Kaepernick, who former Saints’ QB Bobby Hebert and others see as far more talented than many of the current backup QBs in the NFL, remains unsigned has reignited the controversy that Kaepernick is being shut out of the NFL because of his politics and his race. 

With the NFL dominated by African-American players, it’s hard to logically conclude that the NFL is innately racist; but that has not stopped the criticism.  

Racism may be more subtle today than decades ago, but racism  still exists.  Would a white player receive the same judgment if he protested injustice in America by kneeling for the National Anthem?  Again, considering that the NFL is diverse, it is possible a white player would receive the same stigma for the protest.

Are these latest protests of ignoring the National Anthem more about the original reason Kaepernick protested, or it is more about showing support for Kaepernick?  Either way, protesting injustice in America by kneeling or not showing respect for the National Anthem before an NFL game may be a big controversy as the 2017 regular season kicks off.

Colin Kaepernick first knelt for the National Anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality in America, but that is not why this has been such a controversial issue.  Beyond the merits of the issue lies the method of protest – showing disrespect for the National Anthem.  Had Kaepernick, or any player, taken to the streets or used another way of bringing attention to racial injustice and police brutality, this would not be so controversial.

NFL players, like every U.S. citizen, are entitled to their opinions about this country.  That entitlement is a precious right we have in America.  In the context of something as American as an NFL game, showing contempt for our National Anthem is exaggerated.  If, at the beginning of a political event or a town hall meeting, there were a protest of the National Anthem, there would not be the same sensitivity as there is before a major sporting event.  

When someone protests the National Anthem, which reflects a national pride in America and respect for those who died or were injured fighting for our country, it is taken as an affront to everything good America stands for.  The National Anthem also represents the millions of Americans who agree that there is racial injustice in this country and that police brutality against African-Americans has been a big problem in law enforcement’s relationship with society and disrespecting our national song is seen as a slap in the face of those Americans.

Everyone has the right to protest the National Anthem, but anyone who does so also shows a lack of respect for America in general.  We should be able to agree that we can disagree, but still show respect for the America we hope will shine brighter.

Criticism of Colin Kaepernick’s protest is more about the form of protest he chose and less about the cause.  We are not a perfect nation, but we have taken on and gotten beyond many challenges in our effort to establish a society where equality is a symbol of who we are. 

Comments ()