The most memorable parts of a national anthem at a sports game used to be the singing performance or the flyover. But that has changed, starting with the San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick on Aug. 26 during a game against the Green Bay Packers.
Kaepernick kicked off the game by kneeling during the national anthem in recognition of and opposition to the oppression of African-Americans. All eyes are on him and a few of his teammates who have decided to sit, kneel or raise a fist during the national anthem in silent protests. It’s an effort to use their voice and position as players for the NFL to effect change for the people who are suffering.
At first, Kaepernick was alone in his protests and it didn’t come to light until the third game of the season (due to the fact that Kaepernick didn’t play for the first two games) which also happened to be on Sept. 11. Since then, he continues his protest, but is now joined by other sports players including fellow from the 49ers and many other teams in the NFL such as the Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks.
Fox News reports the gesture, which may be perceived as disrespectful to perform on a day honoring Americans lost 15 years ago, is viewed by the players as simply another sign of unity—of taking a stand for the freedom of all Americans.
Many fans and spectators don’t like this method of silent protest.
They believe the national anthem is meant to be a symbol and reminder of those who fought and died to keep this country free. This protest isn’t meant to be seen as disrespectful or hurtful, but rather as an eye-opener to the recent police brutalities and racism that have been on the rise for the past few years.
A few high schools across the country, such as DeSoto, Waggener and Garfield High School are also catching on to the growing trend. In fact, reports the North Dallas Gazette, it’s spanning across several sports, even into women’s volleyball.
“I think people should stand because that’s how it’s always been, it’s a normal thing to do. Kneeling isn’t the right thing to do in this situation,” explains sophomore business administration major Brian Salapa.
Despite criticism, there’s much support for this movement from players, coaches and fans.
“It’s absolutely their right as American citizens,” says junior business administration major Jean Etienne, “and no one else should try to deter them from exercising their constitutional rights.”
Being able to speak the truth and your mind is seen as one of the main factors why people are quick to support this popular movement.
“He (Kaepernick) is using a platform bigger than himself to speak the truth for the people being mistreated in a nonviolent way,” comments sophomore theology major Angel Pereira.
While it doesn’t seem that easy to get a country talking about a topic as controversial as this, it appears the more uncomfortable a conversation is, it becomes more bound to make an impact. If the conversation persists any longer, the main message and how to fix it may eventually become substantial and attainable.
In the words of humanities professor Chris Blake, “Any response to the National Anthem is symbolic, so to me, people kneeling are making a statement that actually shows respect.”
Maybe we should shift our focus to the message that Kaepernick is trying to get across instead of on the methods behind it.
Caroline Guchu is a sophomore studying communication