The National Football League, also known as the NFL, is a professional American football organization, and is made up of 32 clubs which is divided into two conferences, then split into 16 teams consisting of 53 players on average. In 2014, 35% of fans said the NFL was their favorite sport to watch. During the fall season of 2015, the top 12 shows were NFL games. Recently, the ratings for NFL games have gone down anywhere from 10% to 17%. Since the 2016 preseason, players have been kneeling, sitting, or staying in their locker rooms during the National Anthem. I feel this is extremely disrespectful to our country, our flag, our anthem, and the millions of brave soldiers who fight for us everyday, some of which who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Players taking part in the protest say it started as an action against racial inequality and police brutality. Colin Kaepernick was the first player to kneel. When he carried out this action, he was on the San Francisco 49ers, but since then lost his job. Since that time, many other professional football players have refused to stand. This has started an epidemic that has trickled from the NFL to high school athletics and even celebrities, such as Stevie Wonder.
So what’s the issue here? These athletes feel they are speaking out against racial inequality , police brutality, and oppression against African-Americans and people of color. Kaepernick said, “ I’m not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color...to me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” These athletes feel, due to their celebrity status, they can influence others and make a difference. While these athletes may feel they have a noble cause, the execution is blasphemous. Their actions are a slap in the face to every man or woman who has ever fought for our country.
Every time the National Anthem is played, it is to remind us of the sacrifices our troops have made and for us to feel a sense of pride to be an American. When soldiers, marines, airmen, and sailors enlist in the service, they’re agreeing to put their life on the line for America. By NFL players kneeling, they are saying their sacrifice doesn’t matter. Let’s not forget their job is to play football, not to display their political views. The least they can do is stand for the few minutes it takes to play the anthem and take their protest elsewhere.
This is a personal topic to me because my brother-in-law, Cody, served six years in the United States Army. He is a veteran of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Although I was young while he was enlisted, I remember praying every night he would come back home. Some families don’t get the chance to see their loved ones again. My sister has attended a military funeral, and watched a soldier’s wife receive the folded flag in memory of her late husband. Sometimes you never know how much something means to you, until it's all you have left.
While athletes, such as Colin Kaepernick, feel kneeling during the National Anthem is an appropriate way to protest, the fact of the matter is it is simply disrespectful. Without brave men and women, like my brother-in-law, they wouldn’t even have the right to do what they are doing. The majority of people in the U.S. believe you should stand for the National Anthem. Some of these people have started to burn their jerseys, leave stadiums, and turn their back on the NFL. While there may be cases of injustice in our country, that is not the time nor is it the place for your protest. I may only be fourteen, but when the National Anthem plays, I will proudly stand up, cover my heart, and thank God I am an American.