Controversial NFL protests


Anna Hulstedt, Reporter

This year’s football season has finally begun. Families gather around the TV weekly to watch the Sunday afternoon games, while snacking and enjoying the entertainment. However, several players in the NFL have recently kneeled during the national anthem to protest against racial injustice and police violence in the United States, sparking national interest and controversy over this issue.

It started last season when San Francisco’s quarterback Colin Kaepernick chose to kneel.

Kaepernick said “I’m not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color… To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

His movement inspired other players, including college and high school athletes, to kneel during the anthem in protests for similar reasons.

On average, football players bring home around $1.9 million dollars per year. These very talented athletes have the privilege of playing a game as a career, often earning more money annually than most other occupations. The United States is one of the few countries that even has a football league, so not standing for the national anthem may look disrespectful to other nations.

 If the football players disagree with what is going on in our country and would like to see issues being resolved, then a different approach should be taken. Instead of causing a chaotic controversy, players should find a better way to improve the issues in the US.

For instance, they could donate to an organization that wants to help fix these problems. Kneeling during the anthem doesn’t DO anything, it appears disrespectful and has caused a disastrous uproar. Fans that disagree with the NFL protests would probably rather see their favorite team members working together with programs aimed to resolve racial injustice and police violence complications.

The national anthem’s purpose is to honor those who have protected us, sometimes with their lives, and to display our pride for the freedom we are blessed to have in the United States.

“I personally think that the people who kneel are very disrespectful because if people didn’t fight for our country back then, the players wouldn’t be able to play football today. Soldiers give us opportunities today because of what they fought for,” said Caitlin Corso (‘20).

Players have every right according to the United States Constitution to not participate in the national anthem, so they aren’t doing anything illegal. The controversy doesn’t lie in the fact that players are protesting, it’s within the method they’re using to express themselves. Although their actions are legal, they do violate the NFL’s anthem language, which says,

“The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem. During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking…It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure… may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.”

Players have the Freedom of Speech protecting them, but their actions are often seen as debatable amongst coaches, spectators, and members of the US government. Whichever side you take, both can generally agree that there are social injustice issues in the United States that should be solved. It’s all about how we want to go about addressing these matters.