Sports Writer: Take Time To Learn About NFL Protests


By: Steve Boltri – Staff Writer

Sunday, September 24th was the day in which millions of people around the United States, and the world for that matter, saw NFL players, coaches, and owners perform a variety of actions during the traditional pregame playing of the Star Spangled Banner including standing, kneeling, locking arms, stretching, and even staying in the locker room.

Let’s ignore the stretchers, because of the hundreds of protesters, they make up a small enough portion to count on one hand and all that their actions showed were immaturity and complete disrespect to everyone and everything. And let’s also ignore the standers who followed “standard National Anthem protocol” because no one is complaining about them.

The actions of these players and the team’s administrators were met with a variety of responses from the public ranging a full spectrum of emotions. Some people simply didn’t care. Some knelt along with the players in support of their protests. Some were livid and now have a deep hatred for the NFL that just one week prior they loved so much.

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This incident gives us a glimpse into the sheer ignorance of the American public. Many Americans have no idea why players are kneeling or how it even started.

13 months ago, Colin Kaepernick was the first notable NFL player to not stand during the National Anthem before a game. Kaepernick’s decision to not stand was in no way a protest against the flag or against the Star Spangled Banner or the military, or even the United States as a whole.

He was trying to raise awareness to what he feels are very real issues in our country right now: police brutality and racial inequality. He was simply using sports as a vehicle to get people to talk about these issues. He knew that not standing during the National Anthem would attract attention because millions of people watch sports and people tend to notice when someone acts differently than the rest. For Kaepernick, it was about finding a way to make his voice and the voices of millions of other Americans heard. It’s that simple. It had nothing to do with the flag.

Now unbeknownst to most, Kaepernick started his protests by sitting, not kneeling.  He then met with former Army ranger and NFL player Nate Boyer who suggested that kneeling for the anthem rather than sitting would show more respect to those in uniform, so Kaepernick promptly began kneeling instead of sitting, attempting to be as peaceful and respectful as possible.

As Kaepernick’s protests have spread around the NFL, the public has lost its mind over the lack of respect shown to our flag, our military, and our country by players kneeling, when these people don’t realize what kneeling during the anthem even means. And since when is kneeling a sign of disrespect? Throughout history kneeling has been one of the most used ways to show reverence and respect. People practicing different religions all over the world use kneeling as their utmost form of reverence. Looking back at ancient times and medieval times, people knelt before those in authority to show them respect. In some places they would have been killed for standing.

But we ignorant Americans love the way we do things here and we hate change. Historically speaking, it would seem that it would make more sense for “standard National Anthem protocol” to be kneeling as opposed to standing, but for whatever reason, standing became tradition.  Now people are breaking tradition by kneeling.

Kneeling doesn’t mean disrespect; it means change, and some people can’t handle that.

And that’s the same reason racial inequality is still a problem; because people hate change.  Slavery ended so then the Jim Crow Laws started. The law of the land changed, so now racial tension manifests itself in acts of violence, to include police brutality, and the ensuing protests the media loves to laud.

To those who think kneeling and locking arms during the National Anthem is a sign of disrespect, maybe you should think again. Maybe the real disrespect comes from you in the forms of ignorance and racial inequality. Don’t hate the protest until you actually know what it’s about.    

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Photo Courtesy of NBC news