NFL Kneeling Controversy
By: Anthony Hererra
Read this while listening to Feelings by Morris Albert on repeat
A little background:
Over the past couple of seasons, NFL players have knelt during the national anthem to bring attention to the abusive practices of police forces across the country that have disproportionately targeted black and minority Americans. A few weeks ago at a campaign rally, Donald called these citizens “sons of bitches”. It seemed over the top to me, since he previously said that alt-right protesters (which included Nazi, Confederate, and white nationalist groups among them) in Charlottesville included “…some very fine people”.
I sometimes joke about spending my formative years in Glen Burnie, a “blue collar” suburb outside of Baltimore. The kids I grew up with in my neighborhood are still my best friends to this day, no matter how our lives diverged as we grew up. But we all acknowledge that we might not have been friends had we not been friends our whole lives. And in a country where people regularly self-segregate into their own silos, they open my eyes to perspectives that I don’t normally see.
In light of that recent controversy, we had spirited “debate” during our normal discussion about what’s wrong with our hometown Baltimore Ravens. Here are some highlights from our point-counterpoint. NOTE: this is not fair and balanced. This is from my point of view and I made no attempts to be unbiased. Feel free to investigate my claims and correct me.
A couple of my friends were disgusted, disappointed, and angry that players were kneeling during the national anthem. They said they might not be able to watch football anymore.
- Your priorities are way off. Do you rank peacefully kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality against American citizens above domestic violence, killing dogs, gun violence, rape, serial murder, violence against women, and CTE associated suicide in your list of triggers? To be honest, we all shouldn’t be watching football. But I also like to drink booze, eat animal meat and fried foods (sometimes simultaneously), not exercise, and curse in public where children can hear.
You can hate the president, but they were disrespecting the country and the troops and *cue Lee Greenwood*.
- If the president of this country disrespected you, insulted you, and called your mother an animal, you might find it difficult to respect the country that elected him (or didn’t).
- There are many troops and veterans that support the players' protest and their right to kneel. Hell, it was a green beret from Texas who gave players the idea to kneel instead of outright sitting during the anthem.
- I don’t hear any condemnation about NASCAR, which welcomes Confederate flags to their events. I think waving Nazi and Confederate flags is exponentially more disrespectful to America.
- The Pentagon paid the NFL to play the national anthem and wave the flag to drive up military recruitment, not out of national pride. I honestly think there are better things we can use my tax dollars on (like the NIH, where one of the offended works).
Keep your political views at home and play football, you spoiled millionaire.
- You’re in no position to control what these men do. The only thing you can control is whether you watch or not. You’ve already chosen to continue watching after, what I feel, are much worse acts committed by NFL affiliated personnel.
- When you have a platform and a cause you whole-heartedly believe in, you’re going to proselytize when you have the chance. I directed this point at one of my friends who is a minister in his church.
- You’re calling the players spoiled millionaires after Trump went all Trump?
What’s taking a knee supposed to solve?
- It’s got us talking about it, right? I doubt we would've had this talk otherwise. Things aren’t going to get better if we ignore them.
I hope I was able to get some of them to think about why people are protesting instead of being reflexively angry about the protest in itself. This went on for a while, but we were able to agree on certain points:
- I made the libertarian point that it’s wrong for the head of the state to call for private citizens to lose their livelihood. And that it’s also wrong that officers of the state are brutalizing, murdering, and infringing on the constitutionally protected rights of private citizens.
- I agreed that kneeling during the national anthem is disrespectful to the country. However, I did not agree that it demeans our military, since there is a sizable proportion of service personnel who support their protest (see Joey Odoms).
- If they were willing to direct their outrage to drive police and criminal justice reform, I would work with them to get people to stand during the national anthem (earlier we all conceded that we sat on our couches during the national anthem while watching at home).
Anthony’s Springer’s Final Thought:
People are going to be mad. It’s a fact of life and nobody’s going to be able to stop that. But being angry can be exhausting, so I need to prioritize my triggers. When asked what criteria I use to rank my priorities, I told my friends that I try to live by 3 things:
- the golden rule
- always punch upwards
- root for the underdog
“Till next time, take care of yourselves and each other,"