Players should be able to express themselves

There was once a time when the National Football League (NFL)  meant spending Sunday afternoons on the couch, relaxing with family and just simply enjoying the game. Football used to be something that could unify viewers, despite their race, orientation, religious views or political stance. However, recently the media has exploded over the recent trend among many NFL players who now kneel for the flag during the National Anthem.

It all started when the 49er’s quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the anthem to protest against police brutality and the wrongdoings towards people of color in this country. His actions not only sparked a movement among many NFL players, it also sparked outrage from many fans and people all across the country. However, Kaepernick told the NFL media he was not doing this to be disrespectful, but rather to stand up for what he feels is right.

We at The Equinox feel that this issue has gotten blown out of proportion. We feel that a player kneeling during the anthem isn’t disrespectful. We would like to compare this kneeling to the same type of kneeling that happens in sports games when a player gets injured. The other team kneels out of respect. Kneeling during the anthem isn’t necessarily disrespectful. What football fans and other viewers need to realize is that every football player who kneels has his own motives for why, just like every football player who stands. People also need to keep in mind that every team does different things during the national anthem. For example some may link arms, like the New York Jets last Sunday in their game against the Miami Dolphins, while others may have their hands over their chests. Many teams, like the New England Patriots, have some players who stand and some who kneel. What a player does during the National Anthem is a personal preference. In fact, there is no rule in the NFL handbook that claims players must stand during the anthem. The NFL released a statement shortly after Colin Kaepernick first kneeled stating players are “encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the national anthem.”

The official Keene State College Department of Athletic’s stance on the current situation is, “Keene State values free expression, social justice, equity in our community and open discussion of differing perspectives and opinions… an athlete’s choice to take a knee during the National Anthem is a personal expression. It does not represent the views of the college, the department of athletics or other student athletes.”

We at the Equinox agree with this, in the sense that each athlete should be able to express his/herself as he/she wants. What we do not agree with is what the Steelers did during their game against The Chicago Bears on Sunday night. While the National Anthem played, all but one player, former veteran Alejando Villanueva, stayed in the locker room. We feel that players have the right to express themselves, but they should at least be on the field. We feel that it was disrespectful on their part because they are not even acknowledging the flag.

What we’ve noticed from this issue is that no matter who does what, someone is always wrong in someone else’s eyes. People argue that U.S. veterans fought for our rights and that it is extremely disrespectful to kneel. Yet others argue that U.S. veterans fought for our rights to do what we want during the National Anthem.

President Abraham Lincoln once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” and this couldn’t be anymore true. It seems as though many Americans can’t even have a simple conversation anymore or reach a resolution on anything. It’s easier for people to bash each other in the comments section on Facebook than to sit down face-to-face and actually listen to someone else’s opinion without immediately jumping down their throat.

All in all, we feel that this country needs to come together again. We are sick of how divided this country is on every single thing that happens. Players should be able to kneel if they want without risk of being called names or being booed. We need to remember that everyone has a right to their opinion; it’s their First Amendment and we really just need to learn to respect each other.

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