According to the Legal Information Institute “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances”. The First Amendment guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of expression by prohibiting Congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely. It also guarantees the right of citizens to assemble peaceably and to petition their government. It is the tradition in the United States to play The Star-Spangled Banner, before sporting events. Those at the event are supposed to stand in attention with their right hand over their heart. In the National Football league (NFL) players were not mandated to stay on the field for the singing and playing of the national anthem until 2009. In 2016, the NFL has said that “ Players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the National Anthem”; it states players should stand for the Anthem, but they aren’t required to. Some people believe that players should be allowed to kneel for the National Anthem and other people believe that they shouldn’t be allowed to kneel during the anthem. I believe that if the NFL allows people to kneel then they should be allowed to take a knee if they choose too.
This whole kneeling controversy started on August 26, 2016 when Colin Kaepernick took a knee while the National Anthem was playing, and that is what began the change. In the post-game interview, he stated that he was basically not going to get up to show pride in the flag for a nation that oppresses people of color. On September 24th, 2017 numerous NFL players and other professional athletes of different sports followed what Kaepernick did and also took a knee during the National Anthem. Some people are applauding them for being brave along with Kaepernick. One thing about them protesting is that the majority of those that participated in that protested on that Sunday didn’t say anything throughout the rest of that season. They didn’t say anything as Kaepernick’s name was dragged through the dirt and his career was essentially taken away from him. There were several chances for them to come out in support of his protest and to join in, but they instead let him take the hit. It wasn’t until Donald Trump arrived for the NFL that player decided it was their duty to say something.
Once Donald Trump got involved that’s when the hate really started coming in. When Trump got involved, he never really mentioned race in his remarks about kneeling while the national anthem is playing. His only real argument is that kneeling for the National Anthem dishonors our armed forces and that owners should assert their rights as employers to limit the speech of their employees. Those who are against people kneeling for the National Anthem believe that kneeling while the national anthem is playing is un-american. They believe that the reason that paid sports players are protesting while the national anthem is going on is unrelated to the national anthem. They believe that if athletes wanted to protest police brutality, they should do it off the field and not in a work setting. They believe that their own opinions involving police brutality have nothing to do with the sport they are playing, and they should find another method to protest instead of kneeling during the national anthem.
One of the biggest flaws with people’s argument who are against kneeling for the National Anthem is that they act off emotion. They claim that kneeling is disrespectful, so they are against it. Just because something is disrespectful doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be allowed. A prime example of this is free speech just because someone says hurtful or racist comments doesn’t mean it should be illegal. I mean yea they shouldn’t say them but if that’s how they feel you should let them express their opinion. That’s the same way with the flag, if someone doesn’t want to stand because they believe there are people being mistreated then they shouldn’t have to stand for the flag. Those against it are just acting off emotions. They want rules in place based off emotions when we have the right of freedom of expression. Think about a place like Canada where you can be jailed for hate speech, we should be thankful to live in a country where we can express our disagreements freely.
I believe that when someone thinks that the United States is not living up to its ideals of independence, freedom, and justice for all, refusing to stand for the National Anthem is acceptable and justified. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish for us as a country on to look the other way. There are bodies in the streets and people getting paid and getting off with these crimes scott free and they get away with murder. Other athletes have since refused to stand for the national anthem for some of the same reasons. Even on of the Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, who also knelt while the National anthem was playing, stated, “ the message is I’m against social injustice … I’m not against the military force or police or the U.S at all.” So, with him stating that Donald Trump’s claims go out of the window it shows that they aren’t taking knee because they don’t like the military, they are doing it because of the social injustices.
People standing up for what they believe in and demanding that the world listens and makes a change is a big part of our history. We have had great civil right leaders who have protested what they believe to be wrong and in doing so they have made a big change in our history. Think about Martin Luther King Jr and Rosa parks and how they stood up for what they believe in. I’m not saying Collin is on that level but standing up for what you believe in is essential in making a change in this country.