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)

Photo gallery: Colby Parrish and Dunedin’s Enchanted Earth represent the softer side of witchcraft

Going to Enchanted Earth and talking with Colby Parrish was unlike any experience I’ve ever had. Though I’m Christian, and this way of life has never fallen under my beliefs, I find it interesting in getting to know people and trying to understand their mindset on spiritual matters. Colby said his clients are wide-ranging, and many seek out his services if only for an opinion or advice. From a Mormon family, he said nothing has ever spiritually and emotionally connected with him as his current beliefs and practices do. Meeting the owner of the shop, a Stevie Nicks with red hair, as well as some of the other “witches”, I was surprised at how content they seemed. They say they believe there was a Jesus, which shocked me, but that he was just one of the many gods and goddesses that make up the universe. It was clear to me by the end of the conversation that all people, no matter beliefs and practices, simply want to find some kind of comfort in something and the people that share in the same ideologies. Believing is truth in the minds of us all.


Going to Enchanted Earth in Dunedin and talking to Colby Parrish was unlike any experience I have ever had.

Though I believe in Christianity — and this way of life has never fallen under my beliefs — I found it interesting getting to know these people and trying to understand their mindset on spiritual matters.

Parrish said his clients are wide-ranging, and that many seek out his services only for his opinion or advice.

Born into a Mormon family, Parrish said nothing has ever spiritually or emotionally connected with him like his current beliefs and practices.

Meeting the owner of the shop — a Stevie Nicks lookalike but with red hair — as well as others that identify themselves as, “witches,” I was surprised at how content they all seemed.

The witches said they believe there was once a Jesus, which shocked me. But they believe that he was just one of the many gods and goddesses that make up the universe.

It was clear to me by the end of our conversation, that all people — no matter beliefs and practices — simply just want to find some kind of comfort in something, and the people that share in the same ideologies.

To me, believing is truth in the minds of us all.

Simplicity and Quality Help a Small Clearwater Store Last

A 3-foot sculpture of a rooster greets customers from its perch on the corner of the roof. Inside, more roosters rest on a shelf cluttered with old photos and licenses. This is where Milto Tagaras,  son to the original owners of John’s Produce, works as a partial owner.

John’s Produce has been a fixture in Pinellas County for over 37 years, according to the Pinellas County Property Appraiser website.  The store is currently stationed on the corner of Belcher and Nursery Roads in Clearwater. Tagaras credits their current location to a man, Mr. Logan, who sold the space to his parents at a young age. Tagaras said Mr. Logan had recognized John and Eva Tagaras as hard-working immigrants from Greece and agreed to sell them the location.

“We started out on Walsingham. Then we moved to where that bank is now,” said Tagaras pointing across the street. “Then over where Café Charlie is. We own that building. Then where the Shell station is now. Then to here. There’s heavy traffic. It’s a great area.”

Milto Tagaras holds a picture of his parents, John and Eva Tagaras, in front of their third location. The background shows the unfinished building that now houses Café Charlie.

Tagaras credits the success of the business to the relationship his father has made with farmers markets over the past three decades. He also added they have a simple philosophy when it comes to stocking  their produce.

“It’s a triple win. We buy premium product. It looks good, people will pay a fair price for it, and we never have to throw anything away, “ he said.

Customer Richard Brunelle agrees. Carrying his basket while talking to Tagaras about their different locations, Brunelle discussed how he has been coming to John’s Produce since the store moved to its third location over 15 years ago.

“I come here for the tomatoes. They are the best and the cheapest,“ said Brunelle.

When asked about the dry goods section of the store, Tagaras offers a more complicated explanation.  According to Tagaras, the request for specific imported items came after the beginning of the Kosovo War brought an influx of immigrants to the United States.


German and Croatian products on the shelves of John’s Produce. Rambutans on sale with the price handwritten on cardboard.

“At first, people would cosign the products they wanted from their home countries.” said Tagaras. As certain products became more popular, they would remain on the shelves.  Now products with German, Polish, Bosnian and Greek origin can be found throughout the store.

“People would be willing to pay $10 for the water they wanted. They wouldn’t drink Zephyrhills water, so they came here,” said Tagaras.

front entrance

The front entrance of John’s Produce.

The customers continue to return, including the owners from La Bella Eva Restaurant and King’s Food Mart, who come to buy fresh produce. Tagaras feels the business’ success comes from a simple place.

“The name Tagaras comes from ταγάρια. It’s the bags put on donkeys to take food to markets. It’s like how the name Miller comes from people who milled and Smiths worked with metal. We come from a line of people who do this.”