by Jia M. | cartoon source Scranton Times-Tribune
The new NFL season is well underway, MLB teams are scrambling to fight for a Wild Card spot in the playoffs, Labor Day BBQs just passed, and the time to reflect on 9/11 is right around the corner. In one way or another, all these things represent America. From cheering for our athletes to celebrating the working class to remembering those who fell, it’s hard not to wonder what it means to patriotic. I want to take a moment to honor some of the most patriotic among us…
These people decided to use their athletic fame, the platform they have, to silently protest for something that they hold dear. One individual is protesting against discrimination. Another individual is protesting for gay rights. A third individual is protesting against police brutality. Real concerns in America.
These athletes are protesting for these issues by kneeling or sitting during the national anthem. They are exercising their First Amendment right to spread awareness about some serious concerns in our nation. Instead of blocking a freeway and endangering a pregnant mother’s life, they’re doing it silently without endangering anyone. Simply drawing attention–and how are we respecting that? The police are threatening to boycott protecting Niners games and companies are rescinding endorsements. People have retorted that Kaepernick is doing this because it’s helping him stay relevant since it’s helping with his jersey sales, but the guy is putting his money where his mouth is by donating all that money. Brandon Marshall is donating his money to military veterans (FYI: we have an estimated 49,933 homeless vets).
Fun fact: The US Department of Defense paid 14 NFL teams a total of $5.4M to honor soldiers. God bless the NFL.
So, why does it matter if these guys are sitting down during the national anthem? Why does it seem like this form of protesting is uncalled for? The court case United States v. Eichman established that flag desecration is part of the First Amendment and the government could not stop a person from expressing themselves. Thus, we have people burning flags and we have considered that OK. These athletes have already said that they aren’t protesting because they hate America, but because they have the kind of platform where they can influence or at least draw the attention of others. So, why continue all this hate? President Obama, the current president of the United States of America, said that Kaepernick is exercising his right of freedom of expression and he’s OK with that. We’ve got #VeteransforKaepernick trending on Twitter; soldiers and veterans have stated that Kaepernick is exercising the very right that they are fighting for. Yet, half of this nation is not OK with that? How is that not OK? If the question is whether we’re hypocrites, the answer is “Yes.”
Adam Zyglis / Buffalo News
If we’re going to continue to throw shade at these athletes for standing up for what they believe in then we should be clear across the board with how athletes conduct themselves during games. NBA superstar Dwayne Wade is an athlete that deserves to have his endorsements pulled or at least pay a fine. During the Canadian anthem, he continued his pre-game ritual of making a basket. According to NBA rules, “Players, coaches and trainers are to stand and line up in a dignified posture along the sidelines or on the foul line during the playing of the National Anthem.” A player could be fined up to $10,000 and to my knowledge he wasn’t. The NFL encourages but does not mandate standing during the anthem. Wade’s response to the incident was, “It’s something that I do before every game that I prepare for, and I’ve been doing it my whole career… So if anybody thinks I’m being disrespectful towards a country, then they have no idea of who Dwyane Wade is.” In a nutshell, he continued to shoot around during a national anthem simply because he wanted to. An international embarrassment. He essentially disrespected another country on a silly whim and yet, there was no public outcry from Americans holding him to a standard. I thought American athletes competing in another country are considered ambassadors and the face of America, but I guess from now on during other national anthems in the Olympics we should have American athletes continue fooling around on the court.
Before you start calling out Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid, Jeremy Lane, Brandon Marshall, and Megan Rapinoe for disrespecting America by sitting during the anthem, take a moment to think: When did you start caring about this? I’m guilty of this as well, but I’m sure some if not most of you didn’t care (and you have every right to) and ignored the Black Lives Matter movement, UC tuition student protests, Occupy movement, or even the Harambe event. When did you become so patriotic and sensitive enough to care when someone is silently protesting to help improve America? Let the man protest. If you don’t like it, ignore it. With these athletes protesting, they’re actually accomplishing what they sought out to do, to draw attention. The fact that you’re upset and I’m annoyed by you being upset means it’s working.