Kneeling for the Anthem

Lauren Hansen, Editor-In-Chief

In 2016, football player Colin Kaepernick began the trend of kneeling to protest the oppression of black people and police brutality.

Now, news outlets are once again up in arms over the sports controversy of players kneeling for the national anthem.

The sports themselves are not of precedence, rather it is a debate for a player’s right to protest as he sees fit. The question is, should this be allowed? The answer? Yes, it should.

The first amendment as written in the constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;   or   abridging   the   freedom   of speech,   or   of   the   press;  or the  right of the people  peace- ably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Thus, it is everyone’s undeniable right to free speech and protest.

Furthermore, as the act itself is neither violent nor harmful, there is no reason to prevent it, and no player should risk being fired for showing his belief regardless of other’s opinions.

The First Amendment can be limited in an official setting under the confines of appropriate behavior as indicated by an organization, but there is no section in the

2017 NFL rulebook that prohibits kneeling or staying in the lockerroom for the national anthem. Teams only must appear with enough time to warm-up prior to the start time. Rules outside of how to play the game pertain only to the appearance of uniforms.

There is a different policy in the game operations manual, though.

An unnamed NFL spokesperson told that the regulations for the national anthem are that it be played before every game with the players on the sidelines. Players should stand up, face the flag, and hold their helmets in their left hand while remaining quiet. Failure to follow these expectations could result in fines, suspensions, and/or loss of draft choices. Still, the spokesperson stressed that these actions are only a possibility and that the NFL has no intention of punishing players or teams who kneel or remain in locker rooms for the national anthem.

The biggest argument against kneeling for the national anthem is that it disrespects the flag and the soldiers fighting to keep this country safe even if that is not- and never was- the intent.

This is a strong point, however, some teams have taken to standing with their arms locked in a show of unity which fixes that issue.

After President Trump’s remarks on twitter- three of which were used to remark, “Ratings for NFL football are way down except before game starts, when people tune in to see whether or not our country will be disrespected! The booing at the NFL football game last night, when the entire Dallas team dropped to its knees, was loudest I have ever heard, Great anger.”-  teams want to show solidarity and unity.

This includes Illinois’ own Chicago Bears and Wisconsin’s Green Bay Packers who linked arms at their own games in response to Trump’s comment that football players who kneel for the anthem to protest racial injustice should be fired.

Ultimately the question becomes, is a football game truly the place for a political stance? Perhaps not, but it is an effective means of spreading a message.

By behaving outside of the norm, teams bring attention to an issue and they start conversations. Direct or indirect the sparked controversy pushes the nation to progress and become more open-minded.

Honestly, if the protests remain peaceful there is no harm in them continuing; it is a personal decision whether someone wishes to partake or not.

Remember, football, like all sports, is a game meant to bring the country closer together, and people shouldn’t let differing opinions ruin it.