By Sophie Bocksnick
TAMPA – It’s been almost two years since Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, first kneeled during a preseason National Football League (NFL) game to protest racial injustice and police brutality. Since then the NFL has been working to find a way to respect those who have served, while also allowing free speech for NFL players.
The NFL initially announced in May 2018 that all players who are on the field during the national anthem are required to stand. Players also have the option to sit out of the anthem and wait in the locker room. Teams whose players refused to cooperate would be given a fine.
Recently, the NFL has decided to suspend their national anthem policy. President Donald Trump, a proponent of the policy, was not happy with this suspension.
The NFL National Anthem Debate is alive and well again – can’t believe it! Isn’t it in contract that players must stand at attention, hand on heart? The $40,000,000 Commissioner must now make a stand. First time kneeling, out for game. Second time kneeling, out for season/no pay!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 20, 2018
Trump suggests that a player who kneels during the national anthem for the first time should not be allowed to play that game. He believes the second violation should result in the player being taken out for the season with no pay.
The Associated Press recently obtained a document from the Miami Dolphins that stated that players who kneeled during the national anthem would be given a punishment up to a four-game suspension. Dolphins owner, Stephen Ross, gave a statement saying he hadn’t decided whether or not to discipline players who protested the anthem.
According to NBC News, about 200 NFL players, 12 percent of all players, have chosen to kneel during at least one game. The response of the public has been very mixed.
Some people have been very supportive of the NFL anthem policy suspension.
NFL ANTHEM POLICY SUSPENDED
Great! I served so that any American can #TakeAKnee. What's the point of service if not to protect freedom? This whole issue has nothing to do with military respect. And flag etiquette is also clear — not a violation.https://t.co/2q7frcD4HB
— George Capen #exGOP (@george_capen) July 20, 2018
Why is kneeling to the flag considered disrespectful when people kneel in churches to pray? #TakeAKnee
— Jasper #Ω (@JSavoly) July 21, 2018
Imagine if players said they were raising fists or taking a knee as a "gesture of support for the troops." Owners would've swooned. It isn't about the anthem. It's about silencing Black voices being raised against police violence. NFL loves black bodies. Black minds, not so much. https://t.co/0OMdIJOuSi
— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) July 19, 2018
Others believe that kneeling during the national anthem is disrespectful to those who have served.
National Felons League (NFL)
Kneeling Is In: NFL Backpedals On Anti-Kneeling Policy https://t.co/by8QmPNJPC @nflcommish @NFL #StandForOurAnthem #RespectOurFlag #BoycottTheNFL
— Joe NRA Ryan (Army Dad) (@JosephMRyan1) July 21, 2018
Completely disappointed in these NFL players today! #donttakeaknee
— Amy Lee (@AmyLee092973) September 24, 2017
There’s other ways to protest than to disrespect the national anthem and those who serve. Be respectful, be grateful, and #DontTakeAKnee
— Jake DeAtley (@jdeatley7) September 25, 2017
The NFL has been looking for ways to come to a fair but reasonable conclusion to this problem. It’s an option to play the national anthem before the players come out of the locker room. The players didn’t start standing on the field during the anthem until 2009. Before then, players would stay in the locker room while the anthem was played. Returning to the previous way may help dissolve the issue.
Others argue that imposing requirements on players during the national anthem shows the league supporting racial oppression. If the NFL were to let the protest run its course, it would show the public it is in support of civil liberties and rights. It’s unlikely that players will stay silent, even if they are forced to stay in the locker room during the national anthem. As Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross told NBC News, “When it comes down to it, the United States of America was born out of protest and revolution. It’s in our DNA.”
Featured photo Washington Redskins National Anthem Kneeling by Keith Allison (CC BY-SA)