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Take a Knee

Andrew Loren, Staff

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Colin Kaepernick kneels in a preseason home game in 2016.

 

 

¨The national anthem just ended, and quarterback Colin Kaepernick just knelt!”, yells NFL Hall of Famer and now San Francisco 49ers Commentator Steve Young in a preseason game between the 49ers and the Houston Texans. This movement by Kaepernick sparked something into the hearts of the people around America. Most people disliked his actions, while others agreed with him.

 

That was back in August, 2016. Now it is October, 2017. What has happened since then? A lot has happened. Kaepernick, facing heavy criticism, stopped the kneeling late in the season. He then entered NFL free agency and still has yet to be signed because of his antics. Just two years ago, he was an elite player, with no doubt a top 5 quarterback in the NFL. He even led the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance just a few years ago. Unfortunately, he fell off the national spotlight and is no longer even a top 30 quarterback in the NFL.

While President Trump criticizes NFL players for disrespecting the American flag, Trump refused to put his hand over his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance during a Republican debate just last year.

What happened on September 22, 2017 was a game changer. President Donald Trump held a rally in Alabama, but in it he made a very controversial remark. He cursed at Kaepernick and said that the NFL owners should suspend players who express their feelings against the flag through kneeling. This sparked lots of controversy.

President Donald Trump criticized NFL players who kneel during the USA National Anthem.

The majority of NFL players have knelt, fueling a twitter war, which pits some republicans and Donald Trump against all athletes, democrats, and even some republicans. This brings us to a debate: should athletes be able to kneel during the national anthem? The answer, according to the First Amendment, is yes.

 

President Trump argues that athletes should stick to sports. However, if that is the case, President Trump should stick to reality TV shows. “The Apprentice”’s ratings have slipped since he left the show, or maybe this is all a secret episode of the Apprentice starring Kellyanne Conway and Mike Pence.

 

The First Amendment protects the right of free speech. President Trump actually does not have the right to take away those rights. By threatening to force the NFL commissioner to fine players and suspend them, he is threatening to abuse his powers and go against the law. Is this truly our leader? Someone who is threatening to go beyond his own power to punish people for protesting but staying within legal measures?

 

As an athlete signs with a team, their contract states that they must not display actions to damage the franchise. Kneeling, however, is not one of those issues. These issues include talking trash about other players on the team or on other teams, pulling a Johnny Manziel and partying instead of going to work, or even do anything is a disrespectful manner.

 

Many argue that this is being disrespectful to the flag. However, these athletes are protesting against racial injustice, for the right to free speech, and to express their political opinions in a non-violent way. Not to mention that it’s all legal.

 

Whatever athletes do to protest against opposing political opinions is always going to gain support from the media and also lose support from the media. Whether or not it’s in a press conference, in a tweet, or during the national anthem, they can protest and express their political feelings in all legal ways.

 

 

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