Search for Answer to NFL Anthem Debate Continues

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.

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.

Others believe that kneeling during the national anthem is disrespectful to those who have served.

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)