A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Players “taking a stand” during national anthem promote free speech

“Taking a stand” has a different meaning for various sports teams across the nation. At first, it was only Colin Kaepernick who kneeled during the national anthem before a game to protest the racial inequality in the nation. However, now it has become a national protest. Several sports teams are taking “a stand” by kneeling or staying in the locker room during the anthem.

The teams included in the protest have been the LA Sparks, the Green Bay Packers, The Broncos, The Steelers, The 49ers etc. However, many sports coaches do not take this lightly.  In addition to the coaches, President Donald Trump has shown a backlash against the protestors.

Last week, while Trump was doing a press conference, he expressed what he thought the coaches of the kneeling players should say: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired,'” Trump said. “You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it [but] they’ll be the most popular person in this country.”

After this comment was made, many players and citizens accused Trump of not respecting the first amendment. Also, many people believe that the negative comments are a plan to divide nation instead of mending it back together.

However, there are people besides Trump who are also opposed to the protest. The Cowboys players and coach all kneeled before the anthem then stood during the Star Spangled Banner, tweeting: “As a way to show respect to all, our #Saints team will kneel in solidarity prior to the national anthem & stand together during the anthem.”

Allowing a team to exercise their first right and protest is something that should be valued in the NFL. It is important to speak up and “stand” for what one believes in. Both the NFL and the government should not diminish the voice and power of people who see injustice in the nation and want to do something about it.

It is almost assured that this issue is not going to end anytime soon. There are very influential people on both sides who want to see the nation thrive as one.