Week one of the NFL season showcased some amazing games, but much of the attention is still focused on what is occurring before the games even start.
It all started in week three of the preseason when many noticed San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick sitting on the bench during the national anthem. Although this is what garnered the most public interest, Kaepernick had actually starting sitting during the anthem in the first two preseason games. Now he has become one of the most polarizing figures in sports.
Since that third preseason game, we have seen more players joining the movement. Many are behind his form of protest, but many others consider it disrespectful to our country and those who have served to protect it.
Kaepernick taking a knee is his way of supporting the “Black Lives Matter” movement that recently has gained so much traction across the country. He has said that he “is not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
The 28-year-old’s silent protest has gotten the attention of an entire nation. His jersey was briefly a top seller and many other players around the league, in different sports and of all ages, have joined in protest during the anthem.
Despite this opening weekend of the NFL season falling on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Kaepernick and many other players around the league participated in their silent protest during the national anthem by either kneeling or raising a fist in the air. Other teams, like the Seattle Seahawks, took a stand together as a team by linking arms as a symbol of unity.
No matter how these players are choosing to protest, I feel that there is no problem with what they are doing. In a time when we see protests often turn to violence and make national headlines, Kaepernick has made noise while staying silent. These athletes are using their platform in the national spotlight to show people across the country that there is a way to make others notice a need for change without violence.
Although many people like to point out the disrespect that kneeling during the national anthem has for our men and women in the service, they are taking the action out of context. Why must you stand during the anthem to show your support and appreciation for the armed forces? Taking a knee is not meant to disrespect those who fight to protect our country, and should stop being treated as such.
Not to mention, why is it a requirement for athletes to stand anyway? Are you standing up during the anthem when you are at home, or are you sitting on the couch? Do all the fans in the stadium rise for the anthem, or are some grabbing a beer at the concession stand while it is being performed?
The same people that are accusing Kaepernick and company of insulting our country by taking a knee are the same people that refuse to believe there is an issue of oppression toward minorities in the first place. Instead of vilifying the actions of these athletes, they should be respected for using their national exposure to shed light on a subject that needs to be discussed.
Kaepernick may have sparked serious outrage with his actions, but at the end of the day we should all take notice of the good he is trying to do to improve our country instead of creating a false storyline that he is disrespecting it. His actions and reasoning have substance in today’s America and should not be criticized, but should provoke all of us to realize we can make our country better.