Athletes create controversy over the Stars and Stripes
October 29, 2016
Athletes in a variety of sports, including professional, college, and high school leagues, have recently been protesting injustices against people of color by taking a knee during “The Star Spangled Banner.” The trend started with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started his protest by sitting during the national anthem and then changed to kneeling. At first he was alone in his efforts, but others such as Jeremy Lane of the Seattle Seahawks and Brandon Marshall of the Denver Broncos, began to join him. His 49ers teammate Eric Reid also joined. To show support, Megan Rapinoe, a member of the US Women’s Soccer Team and the Seattle Reign, also took a knee during one of her games.
Athletes Take a Knee for Justice
Many people assume the national anthem protests are aimed against police or the United States as a whole, but they are not. Instead, these actions are taken to protest social injustice, specifically against minorities.
Police brutality is a real issue facing this country. Rates in recent years have risen, and more attention is being drawn to the issue because people can record incidents on their cell phones and share them on social media. Dozens of graphic viral videos show suspects surrendering and then being shot, often multiple times. The evidence has proven there were no weapons, just assumptions made by officers based on race. No matter how one tries to argue, this is a race issue, and the statistics prove it.The Washington Post reported on July 11, 2016, that U.S. police officers have shot and killed the exact same number of unarmed white people as unarmed black people: 50 in each case. But in the same article, the Post notes that because the white population is approximately five times larger than the black population, the statistic means unarmed black Americans are five times as likely as unarmed white Americans to be shot and killed by a police officer.
By Master Sgt. Cohen Young [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The even more disturbing revelation is that a small percent of officers responsible for these murders are not prosecuted and are merely given a slap on the wrist. This cycle of a black person being killed and a police officer receiving no punishment is happening over and over again.
This problem goes far beyond football, as Kaepernick noted. It is a matter of life and death. It is murder. The voices of the oppressed have been silenced, and Kaepernick and many others are using their platform on national television to spread awareness. They are using their fame to make a difference. Unfortunately, implicit bias and ignorance muffle their message across America, and these protests are seen as threatening. In fact, they are peaceful, the same way Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. intended protests to be.
A criticism voiced by many is that the actions of these individuals disrespect the military. But many military members have taken to social media to support Kaepernick with the hashtag #veteransforkaepernick. They are fighting for an America in which all people are guaranteed their First Amendment right to demonstrate. That is what the Constitution stipulates, and that is the beauty of America. In the 1960s, Muhammad Ali protested the Vietnam War by refusing to be drafted. Former Attorney General Eric Holder addressed Ali’s action, stating, “His biggest win came not in the ring but in our courts in his fight for his beliefs.”
The US was founded on protests. No one today looks back on 18th century protests and questions why those Americans insisted on that essential right.
Other citizens can support these athletes’ efforts. You can keep the conversation going. Do not let the threats and voices of those ignorant about the true message of these protests influence your opinion. Do not be silent on this issue. Take a step back and realize that many people in this country do not have equal freedoms or protections. That is not the nation our forefathers envisioned. Lastly, do not let the voices of the deceased be silenced. Stand on the right side of history.
Professional Athletes Disrespect Nation
Protests are a liberty guaranteed and protected by our government, which allows these athletes to protest during the national anthem. In some other countries, they would most likely be tortured or killed because of the disrespect they have shown. Not only are they disrespecting our country and the rights they have as a whole, but they are also disrespecting those who sacrifice themselves in order to guarantee the American people these rights.
There is a reason we stand and remove our hats during the national anthem; it is to show respect and gratitude for our country and those who serve it. Current military personnel and veterans are often recognized during this time. We live in an amazing country in which we can freely express our opinions and believe in anything without the fear of governmental retaliation.
Athletes should not kneel during the national anthem. While some might have grown up under difficult circumstances, they are at a point in their lives when they are wholly supported. Professional athletes do not understand what happens to others outside of our country, they sometimes don’t appreciate what happens within our country. They focus on what is covered on the news, which is usually controversial, rather than the great things happening around our nation.
Not only do they not understand what people have gone through to give them the ability to express their protest during the national anthem, they also do not see all the opportunities they have been given within our country. They get paid handsomely to provide entertainment.
Around the world people work hard and get paid next to nothing, but in America some athletes are paid millions just to provide entertainment for the general population. They do not fear for their lives. They do not fight to protect our country and its citizens’ rights. They are not hungry or homeless. They play a game once a week in a country that provides so much for them. Many of these professional athletes live their lives within their own personal bubbles.
Most professional athletes in America have attended college, perhaps a luxury taken for granted. Many people throughout the world do not get the chance to go to college. Although some may disagree and say that these athletes are highlighting a social problem, in the process of this they are being arrogant and disrespectful towards those who have fallen and the liberties and opportunities they have.