At last Saturday’s Homecoming football game, I heard what might seem like a strange comment to some. As everyone was rising for the pregame national anthem, a man nearby observed aloud, “Look, no one is kneeling”. This comment makes complete sense in light of recent events in the sports world.
Colin Kaepernick, former starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, brought himself into the news when he was seen sitting on the bench before a preseason game during the national anthem. Kaepernick, who is biracial, has been quoted of saying, "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
He has proceeded to kneel during the national anthem for his team’s first two regular season games, and he vows to continue kneeling until things start to change. His teammate, Eric Reid, has joined him in kneeling. Recently, U.S soccer star Megan Rapinoe knelt during the national anthem before her Seattle Reigns’ game against the Chicago Red Stars and who knows how many more are to follow after the police shootings of black citizens in Tulsa and Charlotte.
So what does all of this mean? Let it be known that it is completely lawful to not stand during the national anthem. This is not a question of law; this is a question of morals.
I thought Arian Foster, running back for the Miami Dolphins, said it best when he tweeted out, “the flag represents freedom. the freedom to choose to stand or not. that's what makes this country beautiful.”
There are, of course, people that do not condone his actions at all.
John Tortorella, head coach of Team USA for the World Cup of Hockey, has been quoted as saying, “If any of my players sit on the bench for the national anthem, they will sit there the rest of the game."
I am a young Caucasian male, and have never before experienced any kind of racial discrimination that Kaepernick and others are protesting; so you may take my opinion with a grain of salt. I have been to many athletic events in my lifetime, and have never seen any athlete – or any fan, for that matter – choose to kneel during the national anthem. No matter their race, religion or gender, they have all stood.
This is not to say that I shun Kaepernick’s actions. I actually praise him for using the spotlight he has as an athlete to bring to light a social issue. He is not being violent in any way, shape or form. He is taking a stand by taking a knee.
Nelson Mandela used rugby as a platform to bring together blacks and whites in South Africa. Now Colin Kaepernick is trying to use football to as a platform to stand up against racial discrimination. Nelson Mandela is seen as a hero to many; so why is it that Kaepernick is being seen as, ‘un-American’? How is this fair?