You’ve probably seen it. It started about a year ago, when pro NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat on the bench during the national anthem before a game, eventually switching to kneel instead. This act of protest essentially stayed under the radar but is currently evolving to become a prevalent part of the NFL and even other professional sports leagues, such as the MLB. With recent harsh remarks by President Trump but also intense praise from activists, it’s hard to discern the morality of such acts.
So why are these athletes kneeling during the national anthem anyway? Simply put, it started with Kaepernick, as he wanted a means of protesting the radical racism and police brutality against those of color, while still being a professional sports player. This act of kneeling, along with locking arms or not even coming onto the field for the anthem, is now growing in popularity with other players such as LeSean McCoy and Tom Brady, as the inequality in the country is becoming more blatant. After all, atrocious videos and reports have shown that police often abuse their power, especially against African Americans, and seemingly get away without any major charges.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump and other critics have claimed that kneeling during the national anthem indicates substantial disrespect to the country, the veterans and armed forces, and so on. With Trump even specifically targeting Kaepernick via a very profane tweet, it seems as if the act of kneeling is something that is extremely offensive. However, in my opinion, it is not.
Critics of kneeling are wholly misinterpreting the motive behind these actions. These athletes do not have any intention whatsoever to disrespect the country and stir up political dissent. It is simply a passive way for them to emphasize and bring awareness to what is going on in the country, all while maintaining their rigorous lives as athletes. Additionally, it is important to note that it is not required to stand during the national anthem, and these protesting players are just exercising their freedom to express their opinions.
West Ranch senior Alec Mardikian, who has been following the turn of events since last year, comments that “I slightly understand why Trump and other like-minded ‘patriots’ are condemning these kneeling athletes, but I think that it is unnecessary. These athletes just want to illustrate what they believe in until they see change in the state of affairs.”
Currently, more and more professional athletes are joining the “kneeling” movement, or some alternate version of it. From Kaepernick’s questionable start of such a movement over a year ago, it has changed into a subtle yet powerful way to demonstrate the need for reform. Looking forward, it should be continued until directly addressed by the government.