By, Conor Dunleavy
Week 1 of the NFL has officially come to a close. There were great games played all weekend long. One point thrillers, missed field goals to end games, and yet the headlines are being stolen from the players who sat.
No, I’m not talking about the players on the bench, but rather the players that chose to sit during the national anthem. Much has been made about Colin Kaepernick, who was the first to institute a “sit-in” during the national anthem during a preseason game. Media outlets from across the country mobbed San Fransisco to get sound bytes from the backup quarterback (yes, Kaepernick is getting paid $19 million NOT to play).
When asked about sitting, Kaepernick said, “I am 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,”Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview.
Kaepernick however, was just the first of many athletes to provide their silent protest during the national anthem.
Many of these “silent protests” however, came to during Sunday football games on September 11th. As one of most somber days in the history of our country, and the 15th anniversary, togetherness is of the utmost importance. On a day such as September 11th, when the flag was the last standing thing at ground zero, it’s time to set aside differences and stand up for justice. Standing for social injustice is fine, if you feel the need do it the other 364 days of the year, but on that day that we all have engrained into our memories, do our country together and act like we all stand as one. We use September 11th not only as a memorial to all of those that we lost, but also to show the rest of the world how resilient our country is and how we will transcend anything and everything.
The real dilemma at hand though doesn’t have to do with that one day, it’s over with now and we need to focus on where this movement is going. As we can see, many athletes not just in the NFL have joined in Kaepernick’s social justice movement. It’s fairly obvious that as a society, we want to have the utmost equality when dealing with humanity as a whole.
So if that’s the case, The question becomes, why do we care so much? After all aren’t we watching these events for the game itself, not the national anthem?
It’s not because of race or gender, sexual orientation or anything else; there are people who are offended because they feel disrespect. They feel that it’s a type of protest that is doing more harm than good, and is only hurting the appearance and unity of the United States rather than helping it.
All of this over a song? Not for nothing, but the Star Spangled Banner wasn’t the National Anthem of the United States until 1931, less than 100 years ago. Also, if we’re disavowing people who sit during the anthem, what about those that don’t sing along? Is it that we’d rather have a society where we keep quiet rather than expressing ourselves?
There are arguments for both sides, and I’m sure this is only the beginning of what will be a long and tumultuous road through the rest of the NFL season and beyond.