“Oh say can you see by the dawns early light, what so proudly we hailed….” The National Anthem. The symbol of freedom for our country is being used as a form of protest. Due to past police brutalities and racial injustices, U.S. professional athletes have been making public protests during that national anthem since 2016.
These protests originally began in the NFL when Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers sat down and then later kneeled during that national anthem during a preseason game. Other teams and players quickly started to catch on to this trend, making their own silent protests throughout the year until recently. This past September 24 President Donald Trump commented on the situation, saying that the owners of the teams should fire any protesting players.
The protests have caused the general public to respond with some mixed feelings and reactions. A survey was sent out to the PC staff and students and received 201 responses. Of these responses, 9% said that they agreed with the actions of the protests against racial injustices. “The issue these players are trying to bring attention to is racial injustice, which I believe is valid. Kaepernick clearly says that he is using the platform that God has given him as a professional athlete to take a stand for others. He’s not claiming that he is oppressed himself,” said guidance counselor Brad Engbers. Engbers also pointed out that taking a knee can actually be seen as a sign of respect, since players take a knee when the coach talks or when another player is injured.
There are many layers to this issue and Engbers believes that a few of them are being overlooked due to the emotional misconception that players in the NFL are intentionally showing disrespect for the men and women that have served or are currently serving their country. “Is it possible that as a Christian, he is living out his interpretation of Matthew 25:31-45? Maybe we should all take a look at those verses and see where God is calling us,” questioned Engbers.
Sophomore student Annaliese Admiraal also agrees with the protests taking place. “By now, our police forces should be more strict to the reasoning of arresting or even pulling someone over. If the NFL players feel that there is a racial injustice, which there is, they should have the right to protest against the system, because we are all human, and I think we should start actually acting like it,” said Admiraal.
On the other hand 37.8% disagreed with the protests. These responders say that they believe the players are practicing their freedom of speech, a right given to them in the First Amendment, but are using it disrespectfully. They believe that the protests during the time of national anthem is disrespecting to those serving and those that have served in the military.
“I think that the players have every right to express their opinion against their ‘oppression,’ but I think the way they are doing it – by kneeling during the national anthem- is perceived as extremely disrespectful to the anthem, the veterans and this country,” said sophomore Tate Osborn
Almost 20% of responses opposed the NFL protests completely. They find the players actions to be absolutely outrageous and feel the NFL players should be punished, while everyone else should boycott watching any of the NFL games. “I find it disrespectful because we have people fighting for our freedoms and dying overseas, while the players are getting paid millions of dollars to play football,” said sophomore Gideon Boender.
The opinions seem to be very diverse no matter which side you are on -including the 30% of the PC community who have no opinion on the matter or just find it to be an annoying distraction-. It really comes down to whether or not the protests are the right of the players, if they are accepted as respectful or not, and whether they will have any effect on the issue of racial injustices?