National Football League players continue to stand for what they believe is right by taking a knee.
The idea of taking a knee for social justice started last season, when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick repeatedly knelt during the national anthem. Kaepernick said by not standing during the anthem he was protesting the unfair treatment of black Americans, according to northjersey.com.
A year later, his idea of using his career as a platform to speak for his beliefs was seen as toxic by NFL owners. Kaepernick became an unemployed free agent but continued to inform the masses of his opinion of the treatment of black people.
But much to his surprise, the idea started to become popular among other players, who started to protest by kneeling during the anthem or staying in the locker room.
The idea became even more popular when President Donald J. Trump decided to put his two cents in on the topic. On Sept.22, while speaking at a campaign rally for U.S. Senator Luther Strange (R-Ala.), Trump said he wished the NFL would fire the players for disrespecting the flag, according to nypost.com. He also continued to mock the league by saying that the ratings have gone down massively due to the players’ disrespect.
The following Sunday, dozens of players knelt in silent protests, while others opted to stand and lock arms together to show unity, according to nytimes.com. Trump immediately took to Twitter to state that standing is fine, but kneeling was “not acceptable.”
Coaches and NFL owners immediately responded with approval of their players protesting and said they felt “troubled by the president’s comments,” according to nytimes.com.
The idea of kneeling during the protest has sparked controversy among all athletes. While many took to Twitter to voice their opinions and approval of “taking a knee”, other athletes have been informed by officials in their league that taking a knee is not an option.
On Sept. 29, the NBA sent a memo to reinforce the rule, according to cbssports.com. The memo stated that players and coaches must stand for the anthem; individual teams “do not have the discretion to waive” the rule and players who violate the rule will be disciplined.
But will a memo concerning a rule really stop the players?
Probably not. If a person truly stands by their beliefs and opinions they will not allow anything stop them.
Not only that, but the idea of firing someone for protesting the deaths of black Americans is disturbing. Every American citizen has the right to speak on their beliefs and opinions. Also, the First Amendment gives them the opportunity to speak freely. To condemn a person for their beliefs is censoring them. Basically, Trump is censoring the players for taking a knee.
On the other hand, while we believe the idea of peaceful protest is a great opportunity, those who choose to do so need to understand the repercussions. Like everything else, there is a time and a place to freely speak your mind and voice your opinion.
These players are using their profession as a platform to speak their minds and appeal to a large audience to think about an idea many may have not confronted. But by using their profession as a platform, they must be prepared for the consequences of possibly having to sit out of a game, being traded to another team or, in Kaepernick’s case, becoming an unemployed free agent.
If you are prepared to face the consequences, peaceful protest is one of the best opportunities for stating your beliefs and standing by them.