Football tackles politics

Beginning on Sept. 24, several NFL players began to protest the social and racial injustices of America in some form by either locking arms to show solidarity or kneeling during or before the national anthem. This controversy transcends the world of sports, and athletes can no longer afford to be silent on these issues.

President Trump has expressed his outrage on Twitter over the controversial actions, which is only dividing America further. Athletes have long been told to ‘stick to sports’ but now they may be compelled to dive into the realm of politics.

In my opinion, the players are not disrespecting the flag by protesting the anthem; they are attempting to change the foundations of America. This issue is about human rights and equality, not dishonoring the military.

Athletes are protesting the injustices of America, and it should be allowed, even during the national anthem.

President Trump has hugely misunderstood this topic and has said numerous times that it is not about race, when in fact that is exactly what this is about. African Americans are still not treated equally in this country and that must change. The anthem protests were not meant to be aimed at dishonoring the military; they were utilized to spark a change in how black people are treated by law enforcement. Athletes from every sport must start protesting in some form that makes those who witness it aware and uncomfortable; that is the only way to provoke change.

Colin Kaepernick was the catalyst in this ongoing political awakening. According to ESPN, Kaepernick said to NFL media last year, “To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.”

He began kneeling at the request of a former veteran as a way to at least show some respect. People must look at the bigger picture and start trying to solve the issue of American racism. Fighting for this cause has prevented teams from signing Kaepernick even though he led the 49ers to the Super Bowl just a few years ago and he may be more talented than at least half of the current starting NFL quarterbacks. It is sad that Kaepernick’s political stances may have cost him the chance of ever getting signed again.

The NFL’s television ratings have suffered enormously lately due to the millions of Americans displaced by the hurricanes and partly because of the viewers’ reactions to the anthem protests, according to Sports Illustrated. Trump has called for a ban on anthem protests and has repeatedly said that team owners should fire any player who takes the knee. It comes as a shock to me that our president doesn’t stand for equality and he is destroying his reputation by the day. Many Trump supporters have voiced their discontent with the kneeling, and I believe it is important for them to understand that this is a race issue.

This is an uncomfortable issue that will take years to overcome. Kneeling is not about disrespecting the flag or the military; it is about race and the struggles of being a minority in modern America. Kaepernick started a revolution by himself and hopefully that will define his legacy. Kaepernick kickstarted the movement and, as the greatest country in the world, we still have a long way to go on our race for equality.

Illustration by Tyler Ross


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