In another one of the seemingly never-ending issues that divide our country, we’re fighting over whether people should stand or kneel during a song before we watch them throw balls around.
If it sounds like I’m making this sound like a petty thing, that’s because it is. In light of multiple natural disasters, horrific genocide, and the looming threat of nuclear war, this is one of the dumbest things to be angry about.
But for some reason we are, so let’s dive into this.
Why are football players protesting?
In 2016, NFL player Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem, when people usually stand with their hand over their heart. He was doing it as a silent protest.
That year, several incidents occurred in which police fatally shot a disproportionate number of African Americans. He was making a statement that racial equality and justice was not yet a reality in America. Basically, the land of the free did not apply to everyone.
While being criticized initially, many other NFL players have joined him in solidarity by kneeling or linking arms.
Why is it disrespectful to kneel?
Many people see this as a sign of disrespect for our country and the military who have sacrificed for it.
While they believe in freedom of speech and protest, the argument is that it should not be done during a football game and kneeling is not an acceptable form of protest. There are other ways to exercise free speech and protest, but the national anthem before a football game isn’t one of them.
The irony of this argument is that it was actually a military friend who suggested kneeling. Kaepernick was previously sitting during the national anthem. After talking with his friend Nate Boyer who is an army veteran, Boyer suggested that Kaepernick should take a knee during the anthem as a way to show respect but also still make a point.
Let’s put this into perspective
We get really angry and worked up about this because the pre-game national anthem is sacred and American – at least that’s how we perceive it because it’s all we’ve known in our lifetimes.
But before we make assumptions about heritage and law, let’s get a few things straight.
The ‘Star Spangled Banner’ was adopted as the national anthem in 1931, so it’s less than 100 years old. There are people alive who were alive when it wasn’t the national anthem.
The ‘Star Spangled Banner’ was first played at a sporting event in 1918, and slowly caught on over the years. But until the 1960’s other songs could be played pre-game, like “God Bless America.”
Standing during the national anthem is in the Federal Flag Code, which is a set of guidelines, not enforceable by law. It was created in 1942, so it’s been recommended that we stand for a little over 70 years.
Up until 2009, NFL players did not stand on the field for the national anthem. They stayed in the locker rooms. So we’re fighting over a long 8-year tradition.
Why are you so angry?
If you actually take these points seriously, it really does bring up the question of why we’re so angry about this.
They’re disrespecting the veterans who sacrificed for this country.
Well, plenty of veterans support their right to kneel, so stop speaking on behalf of veterans. And once again, a veteran suggested kneeling.
They can exercise their right to free speech and protest, but just do it on their own time.
So do constitutional rights not apply during sports games?
They’re just entertainers paid to play, not make political statements.
Exactly. They’re paid to play football. Why do we expect them to stand for the national anthem? Does your boss play the national anthem and make you stand every morning when you go into the office?
During a football game, they are on company time, and should be fired if they use it to make a political statement.
That’s for their bosses to decide, not you.
It’s part of their job to participate during the national anthem, and should be fired for not being patriotic.
A supreme court ruling in 1943 says that no one can be forced to express patriotism by word or act, including the pledge of allegiance or national anthem. So firing them would actually be illegal.
It’s the national anthem, and you have to respect the flag when the song is played.
So if I’m walking down the street and suddenly whip out a flag and start singing “O say can you see,” are you obligated to stop what you’re doing and stand with your hand over your heart?
Sports are an American past time, and standing for the national anthem is how we respect our freedom to have these games.
Sports is entertainment, just like malls, clubs and movies. Would playing the national anthem in theaters before you watch Jackass 3 make you feel more patriotic?
Damnit it’s the national anthem, and if you don’t stand, you disrespect America.
If you still feel this way, you seriously need to look deeper into why you’re so angry.
Are you angry about the right things?
The national anthem and the American flag are important parts of our heritage and culture. When we stand during these ceremonies, we pay honor and respect to the values of our country and those who sacrifice for them.
I’m grateful for this country. As an immigrant, I’m proud to be an American and thankful for the liberty, diversity, and opportunity this nation provides.
Yet those freedoms aren’t equally available to everyone, and that’s what people are protesting. They’re not disrespecting American values, they’re making a statement that American values don’t apply to everyone. And because it’s America, they have the right to protest, regardless of what anyone else thinks… just like people have the right to wave a Nazi flag. And you have the right to disagree with them.
But if their act of protest enrages you to the point that you tear them down with your words, try to shame them publicly, and wish them bad will like wanting them to get fired, ask yourself why.
Why do you care more about whether a person stands or kneels during a one minute song than what they experience their entire lives?
Why do you care more about a football player kneeling than the thousands of other fans in the stadium who are talking, laughing, eating, drinking, and pissing during the anthem?
Why do you care more about respecting the symbols of our country than respecting the people whom those symbols represent?
Why do you think that standing for a song is more patriotic than listening to our fellow citizens and trying to improve their lives?
Why is a ritual more important to you than a person?