Taking a Knee. The National Anthem Controversy


Connor Laubach

American flag at a local football game.

Connor Laubach, Staff Writer

Protesting the National Anthem as an athlete during NFL primetime – An act of bravery or blatant disrespect?

On the weekend of September 25, over 100 NFL players took a knee in recognition with Colin Kaepernick to raise awareness to racial injustice in the United States. This silent protest quickly swept across the NFL as a variety of players and teams participated in what many described as a brave act of unity.

The New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, the Denver Broncos and the Miami Dolphins all had players who participated in some form of protest. Whether it was taking a knee, not running out onto the field before the anthem, or just linking arms, players across the NFL did not hesitate to use their first amendment right to free speech.

But these protests did not come without criticism. Leading this wave of backlash was President Trump, who was quick on Twitter to call out the NFL players who protested on Saturday and Sunday. President Trump claimed that taking a knee was offensive to the country’s flag and the fallen military who died protecting freedom of speech in the first place. Eventually, Trump added that teams should fire those players who choose to protest.

Almost overnight, the topic became a hot topic amongst Americans who either stood in solidarity with those who protested or those who found it disrespectful. Even some debate kicked up here at Adams.

“Personally I feel like players should stand for the anthem but shouldn’t be required to,” said senior Josh Joy.

Many insisted that taking a knee was a patriotic and brave way for athletes to take a stand against racial injustice in America. Meanwhile, critics slammed this idea insisting the NFL protests were an inappropriate way to bring awareness to a cause.

“I have no problem with it but I also think that people should have a right o protest for anything they believe in,” said senior Ryan Oimet.

Within a few days after the protests however, it has become apparent that a majority of NFL fans disagreed with those players who were protesting. According to NORC Center of Public Affairs, nearly 52% of Americans disagree with professional athletes who choose to protest during the Anthem. At the same time however, 55% of Americans disagreed with Trump’s call for coaches to fire players who partook in protesting.

Four weeks later, the debate has settled down, but the question still stands. Is it OK for professional athletes to protest the National Anthem in the NFL? Is it a brave stand for social justice or is it just flat out careless and disrespectful to the country?