Standing Up for Tradition

Avery Klatsky, Staff Writer

The “Star Spangled Banner,” otherwise known as the national anthem, is a patriotic song which honors our military servicemen and women, first responders, and everyone else who has risked their lives to keep us safe. However, over the past year, hundreds of National Football League (NFL) players have protested racial injustice by kneeling for the national anthem. Kneeling during the national anthem is disrespectful to the millions of men and women who have died to protect our freedom.

In order to have a rational discussion about such controversial issues, one thing should be made clear: the players do have a right to protest. Regardless of whether one likes the actions of the protest, the players, and others who wish to protest, legally have the right to not stand for the anthem. Despite it being legal, however, it is found highly disrespectful by the American public. According to a Fox News poll from Sept. 24-26 this year, 55% of surveyed Americans disapproved of the national anthem protests in the NFL.

As of September 2012, approximately 40 million people have served in the US military since 1776. About 1.1 million people have lost their lives defending this great nation, according to the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). The national anthem honors all of the men and women who have served and died to protect our freedoms, and we should stand to show them honor and respect.

This worrying infusion of politics in culture further divides our nation to the edge. The last thing our nation needs is the politicalization of the few things that bring our fellow Americans together. This is not to suggest that we should discourage protesting. Protesting is good, if done in the right situations. However, sports and politics should be separated.

The political events in football did not start with Colin Kaepernick or President Trump. It began when five players of the St. Louis Rams came out of the tunnel in 2014 with their hands in the air to protest the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

On Aug. 14, 2016, Colin Kaepernick sat for the national anthem. Although it is wrong to sit just as much as it is disrespectful to kneel, Kaepernick gained no national attention for sitting. He then knelt on Aug. 1 alongside San Francisco 49ers teammate Eric Reid. Several more players across the league sat, kneeled, or raised a fist in the air to protest as well. Kaepernick later stated that he “has great respect for the men and women that have fought for this country,” according to SB Nation. The national anthem is a way to express the honor and gratitude we have towards those in the military, and protesting the national anthem is insulting those who died to keep this country free.

The best solution to solve the current political turmoil is to stand and honor the millions of men and women who have died to protect our freedoms during the national anthem, and off the field, protest in any way they choose. The separation of sports and politics is the best way to become united as a nation once again.

Yes, acts of racism and discrimination exist. These cases of racism and discrimination need to be fought on an individual level, instead of broadly claiming racism and discrimination exists somewhere in the ether of the world. Dishonoring and disrespecting those who died to give us the freedoms we cherish each and every day is blasphemous.

America is the home of the free because of the brave. Standing for the song that represents freedom and liberty honors those who have lost their lives to protect us. The players who are in the National Football League have the right to kneel. However, they should care about social problems off the field, and play the game, while honoring those who are serving, on the field.