NFL Protests are Acts of Heroism and a Plea Justice

A Sports Editorial

A+mixed+and+emotional+San+Francisco+49ers+team+standing+and+kneeling+during+the+national+anthem.
A mixed and emotional San Francisco 49ers team standing and kneeling during the national anthem.

A mixed and emotional San Francisco 49ers team standing and kneeling during the national anthem.

A mixed and emotional San Francisco 49ers team standing and kneeling during the national anthem.

Chris Barriga, Editor

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The United States of America, is known as the “land of the free” and of “liberty and justice for all.”  It  is a place where citizens can be anything, do anything and accomplish their dreams.  Or is it?

Today, our nation is in a rough patch, due to the injustice from police brutality and racial inequality toward African American citizens. This past season, NFL players from all over the country have exercised their First Amendment rights by kneeling during the national anthem with the intent to serve justice for citizens– mostly minorities affected by excessive police violence.

The protests started during the 2016 NFL season, when backup quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, Colin Kaepernick, kneeled during preseason games.  “I’m not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick stated.

Conservative fans around the nation had mixed feelings about what Kaepernick was doing. Some found it disrespectful to the flag, the military, and the country.  Others said they would boycott the NFL until owners fired or controlled their “employees.”

By the end of the season hundreds of players had followed in Kaepernick’s footsteps by silently protesting against police brutality during the anthem, despite receiving harsh threats from the President of The United States who called them “sons of b******”

Few NFL owners also supported the president but most stayed silent or supported the players.

Dale Hansen was one of the few American sportscaster to voice a strong opinion in favor of  the NFL players protests. Hansen criticized President Trump for being extremely unfair to these African American athletes and people of color: “It has gone unnoticed that Trump has spoken out against the Mexicans…against the Muslims, and now against the Black Athlete. But he says nothing for days, about white men who marched under a Nazi flag in Charlottesville… And finally tried to say the right thing, not one of them was called a SOB, or should be fired.” (businessinsider.com)

Many players were noticeably upset with Trump’s comment. Washington Redskins cornerback, Josh Norman, asked “Am I American?” after being called hurtful names by the President of the United States.

Our President is supposed to support citizens’ rights, to have citizens’ backs… to stand with citizens and assures their safety.  It was odd to see our leader expressing discriminatory views and  making people — and especially black athletes — feel threatened.

Fans who opposed the athlete’s protests were treating the athletes as if they were objects. American podcast host and actor, Michael Rapaport (who is white), explained “They’re [black athletes] not pieces of meat.” Rapaport’s point was that black athletes shouldn’t have to fight for their rights in America.  He supports their right to try to create a safer community for themselves, their friends and their families.

Former San Francisco 49ers Quaterback Colin Kaepernick

Critics say Kaepernick’s message from the beginning was expressed at an inappropriate time. Former Patriots owner Chris Sullivan stated, “The appropriate place to protest is to run for office or join social media…The appropriate place to protest is not during the national anthem of a televised game, for the fans who are looking forward to seeing football.” (foxbusiness.com). However, during Civil Rights protests of the 1960s many Americans said: “Now is not the time…”

Today is the time to take charge and make changes.

NFL players, sent a loud message to mainstream America wits their anti of police brutality message by kneeling during the national anthem. So far, it has caught the attention of people around the nation.

Until change occurs, African American athletes should continue to kneel. It all started with Colin Kaepernick showing signs of heroism and courage to stand up for an issue that was being overlooked. He is following in a long line of mostly black athletes who have courageously put themselves and their careers at risk to stand up for human rights.  His predecessors include Muhammed Ali and Tommy Smith and John Carlos who raised their fists in black gloves in protest at the 1968 Summer Olympics.  It is up to the rest of us to call for an end to police brutality and take a step forward as the united country we claim to be.

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