By Dylan Johnson
Published: October 4th, 2017
On Sept. 22, President Donald Trump commented on a protest movement that Colin Kaepernick initiated about a year ago. Kaepernick, an NFL quarterback, decided to take a knee during the singing of the National Anthem instead of standing. He did this to bring attention to the racial inequality and police brutality in our country. During a rally in Alabama last week, Trump said, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’”. The President of the United States sees this form of protest as a disrespect to our flag and to what the country stands for as a whole. President Trump also urged fans to leave the stadium and boycott the NFL teams who allowed their athletes to participate in these protests.
After Trump’s comments hit the media, there was an immediate response by the entire National Football League. Each team individually released a statement condemning the comments made by President Trump, showing support towards the athletes who participated in these protests. Not only did teams around the league release statements regarding this issue, they also participated in their own form of unified display of protest in that week’s game. Some teams, like the Pittsburgh Steelers, stayed in the tunnel for the National Anthem, while others, the Dallas Cowboys for instance, took a knee to show solidarity on the issue; it wasn’t just the coaches and athletes participating in these protests either. Owners and other training staff coaches participated as one cohesive unit. Teams around the country made the decision to show support and stand with their athletes in unity.
While most sports writers have been commending the owners of these teams for this display of support for their athletes, I personally question why they are just now coming out of the wood-work to take a stand. When Colin Kaepernick started this protest on his own, he was criticized and, at times, unfairly attacked. Kaepernick realized he was taking a risk when he took a knee during the National Anthem, but he did so to bring attention to a cause he felt was worthy and that needed to be addressed, especially in a country where all men are said to have been created equal. My question is, where were the NFL owners when this protest was initiated? Kaepernick was kneeling all on his own for the same cause that other athletes kneel for today, but the NFL owners were nowhere to be found. I believe it’s obvious why all of a sudden, after President Trump made those divisive comments, the owners around the league sprang into action: money! As soon as Trump called for fans to boycott the NFL teams, it sent the message that he was going after the NFL’s wallet. The same owners that had nothing to say when Kaepernick was unfairly labeled as un-American, quickly unified. For the owners of the NFL teams, this issue is not about racial inequality or police brutality, it’s about the impact on their bank accounts.
I would hope that the owners of the league care about the issues of injustice in our country, but I have strong doubts. Sports writers, columnists, and broadcasters around the nation need to stop congratulating these owners on finally coming together with their athletes and start holding their feet to the fire on what they are doing to continue to address these issues. The only thing I find positive about President Trump making those contentious comments is that it brings attention the closed-minded people who agree with him, shining a light on their ignorance of the country around them and its issues. This choice of kneeling for our National Anthem is not an anti-American issue or an anti-military issue, it is the expression of every American citizen’s right to express his own beliefs. The protesting athletes are doing so to bring attention to racial inequality and police brutality. I believe that anyone who thinks differently is simply trying to ignore the actual issues that this country faces. We need to come together as a whole, across the nation, and address these issues head on, because that’s the only way we will ever see this country move forward.