The “Star-Spangled Banner,” has only been the nation’s official anthem since 1931. However, the lyrics date back to 1814 and the anthem was played many times during the 1800s. In August 2016, Colin Kaepernick, an NFL quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, refused to stand for the national anthem. Since then, many NFL athletes have followed in his footsteps by kneeling or locking arms and protesting in silence for the people of color who suffer oppression in the United States as frequent victims of police brutality, among other racist practices. It is respectable that these NFL athletes are shining a light upon the fact that the U.S. still has some issues that need to be resolved but disrespecting our country and the members of the Armed Forces is not the right way to do so. Many people don’t seem to realize that there is actually a rule established in the NFL game operation manual that requires all athletes to stand on the sideline, face the flag and hold their helmets in their left hands during the anthem. However, these athletes continue to defy this rule regardless of the anger it is drawing.
Anthem-related protests are not anything new to the U.S. In 1968 U.S. Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos, and in 1972 Olympians Vince Matthews and Wayne Collett showed insufficient respect on the medal podium during the anthem. Those athletes were later thrown out of the Olympics and barred from further competition. In 1996, the National Basketball Association suspended the Denver Nuggets’ Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf for refusing to stand for the anthem. If all these athletes were penalized for the same things these NFL athletes are doing, why are they not facing any consequences?
The national anthem was established to honor our military and those that have died serving our country. To kneel or sit down during this brief time we honor them is just disrespectful. On top of that, the national anthem also recognizes our flag and the freedom we have earnedas a nation. To disrespect the very flag that has given us the freedom to speak out seems wrong. These athletes are protesting for peace and love in our country but by disrespecting the national anthem, they are angering numbers of people and causing needless divisions in our country.
Although what these NFL athletes are protesting is a good cause, it is seriously hurting the NFL. When people tune into a game the last thing they want to see is a protest. To the audience of the NFL, these protests distract them from the entertainment they expect to see. Recent television ratings have reflected this loss of interest in the sport, dropping double digits so far since the protests began this year. According to a poll conducted in July by global market research company J.D. Power and Associates, 26 percent of viewers have stopped tuning in to the NFL football games because of the flag protest issue. Another poll conducted in September by American polling company
Rasmussen Reports found that a third of adult Americans are less likely to watch NFL football because of the current protests. These low ratings, at worst, can lead to the league revenue taking a $200 million hit.
Not only is sitting or kneeling during the anthem disrespectful but it is also an ineffective and counterproductive method to promote a cause. The monumental weight of our anthem and our flag and the respect and honor for those who have fought and continue to fight for our nation can blur the message or movement these athletes want to spread.
Racism and police brutality are both very serious and controversial topics that have involved lots of protests and riots. I agree that our country’s issues with racism and police brutality must change. However, these athletes should find other means of protests that are less likely to anger their audience.