Recently, there has been an outburst of events involving kneeling during the National Anthem at professional sports games, especially in the NFL.
Protests on the football field increased after President Trump made the following statements at a rally. “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b**** off the field right now. He is fired. He’s fired!'”
Trump continued his criticism of NFL players who protest on Twitter on the morning of Sept. 24, before the majority of NFL games began. “If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our flag and country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!”
This was one of his most criticized comments and was a large reason why many NFL teams either knelt or linked arms during the National Anthem that day in protest. Some NFL owners and coaches even stood with their players to show their support, while the entire Pittsburgh Steelers team remained in the locker room, with the exception of tackle Alejandro Villanueva, who served three tours in Afghanistan.
While these protests have increased lately, the first player to protest the anthem was former San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick back in August of 2016.
At the start of the 2016 NFL season, Kaepernick took a seat during the first two pre-season games while the National Anthem was being played. These two games went largely unnoticed, and he only made headlines while sitting for the third pre-season game. After the protests made national news, Kaepernick stated, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Just as the country is divided about the players’ right to protest during the National Anthem, so too is the Mt. Hebron student body split on this issue.
Mt. Hebron sophomore Evan Carneal shared his opinion on the protests. “Yes, I am aware of the NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem and Trump’s comments. I think the players should be allowed to protest but not during the national anthem.”
“I know they have the right to, but they should not do it during our National Anthem because I think they’re disrespecting the flag and everyone who’s served our country for our freedom,” Carneal continued. “I think they should have a punishment, but not as harsh as getting fired, like Trump said. My opinion of kneeling is that it’s wrong. It’s disrespectful to the brave men and women who serve for all people in our country, including the NFL players who get to pursue their dream every day and play football.”
But senior James Jones thinks the players should be allowed to protest. “As people on such a large platform, they should definitely share their views on hot topic issues because people look up to sports stars and will most likely listen. As long as it doesn’t affect the play of the game, they shouldn’t be punished because it’s free speech.”
“I think it’s fine that they kneel. They have the right, but I think they lost the real reason why they are doing it,” Jones added.