Last fall, National Football League (NFL) quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the performance of the National Anthem. Kaepernick said the reason for doing so was as a form of protest against the way that black people are treated in America, particularly by police.
According to The New York Times, last Sunday, over 200 NFL players decided to take part in the protest by taking a knee during the National Anthem. The act of kneeling during the anthem has caused much controversy within not only the NFL, but throughout America.
Twenty Keene State College students were informally surveyed by The Equinox regarding their stance on the issue.
Out of the 20 students surveyed, six specifically mentioned the First Amendment of the Constitution being a reason the players should be able to take a knee during the game. KSC first year Aasia Mahmud said, “They should be allowed to protest because it is protected by the First Amendment. They have the right to express their actions and beliefs how they want to. For example, I could wear a cross around my neck and that would be okay.”
Among those who were surveyed, senior Bailey St. Laurent said, “I think the argument that they are disrespecting the military is backwards because the military fights to give us the right to protest. I support any freedom and the military ensures that we are able to protest.”
For senior Promise Kpee, the act of kneeling during the National Anthem is not just something he sees on TV, it is something he plans to participate in as a student athlete.
Kpee said, “I think it is their right to have a peaceful protest. There isn’t any other way that they could protest that would be accepted. I am actually kneeling during the National Anthem during our game on Wednesday,”
Kpee did in fact kneel during the KSC soccer game on Wednesday, Sept. 27 and said it was in order to help bring awareness to police brutality and injustice towards minorities.
For some, the act of kneeling during the National Anthem is wrong. Four out of the 20 surveyed felt that it was disrespectful.
First-year Adam Audet said, “I think that they really should stand because the flag is a representation of the country and anyone who has done something for it. The flag is worth a lot more than whatever they are protesting.”
For senior Anthony Kopatch, he said the issue of standing up when the National Anthem plays is important to him because he has family in the military.
Kopatch said, “I think that at first, when players began to kneel, that it actually represented something good and invoked change, but now everyone is doing it for their own reason and that is just stupid.”
Seven of the students who were surveyed, while not mentioning the First Amendment, still said they think kneeling during the National Anthem should be allowed.
“It is their choice if they want to do it. It shows solidarity and I don’t think that they mean to disrespect the flag or America,”said senior Brianna Schorr
One student surveyed said she feels as though there are better ways to protest, even though she sees the message that they are trying to get across.
Junior Ali Tolan said, “On one hand, I can empathize with people that want to make a statement; they are not doing so in a productive way.”
Two of the students surveyed said that the main reason for the protest has to do with the leadership of President Donald Trump.
Sophomore Laura Valastro said, “Since our nation is in a bad place right now because of Trump, it is a way for players to protest in the most polite and respectful way possible.”
Only two of the 20 students surveyed said that they are unaware of the topic or have no opinion on it.
Colby Dudal can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org