NFL’s Approach to Anthem Protests is Misguided

Written by: The Xavierite Editorial Board

October 4th, 2017

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at a news conference on February 1, 2017, at the Super Bowl Media Center in Houston. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

The debate about national anthem protests, patriotism, and unity that has surrounded the NFL and headlines across the country over the past two weeks continued on Sunday.

Prior to the Chicago Bears week three matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers, players and coaches on the Bears’ sideline locked arms in response to the derisive comments President Trump made on September 23. The act by the Bears was especially shocking considering the organization has a history of shying away from anything that may warrant controversy.

The outrage that stretches league-wide was prompted by the leader of the free world calling any player who knelt during the national anthem a “son of a b*tch.” Americans across the country have varying opinions on the protest, but the real problem lies within the understanding behind the act as a whole.

The movement began when former NFL quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, took a knee during the national anthem after the killings of people like Alton Sterling and Philando Castile last summer. Kaepernick protested the anthem to raise awareness for institutionalized racism, oppression, and police brutality.

Suddenly, the protest has taken on a different meaning by those ill-informed. The overwhelming default reason relates to insulting the military. There are also lines being drawn, according to the president, as to what is an acceptable way to protest during the anthem.

Apparently, taking a knee is offensive to America, but linking arms or holding a fist in the air is acceptable – as long as the person remains standing during “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Right now, the perception of the phenomena is “unity” vs. “the flag,” when it really should be narrowly focused to its intended point: promoting equality.

Many argue that players who kneel during the national anthem disrespect the American flag and all those who serve our country in the military. On the contrary, Veterans and active military personnel protect and serve to allow the American people to protest freely and peacefully.

The NFL and its owners are taking an approach to push the idea of unity. Unity, as in playing to the narrative that relates to standing up against Trump, while missing the entire point of the protest in the first place.

Unity, as in collectively acting in a way that will not bring negative publicity to their organization. The movement is starting to stray into multiple avenues, further from its original intent, and the NFL is just trying to play along until all the noise starts to simmer down.

Americans across the country are now boycotting NFL games in an effort to show their frustration with the League’s act of “supporting” this protest. Families with extensive military backgrounds appear to be the majority of the boycotters because they feel insulted.

Meanwhile, others who are choosing to boycott the NFL are plainly racist.

Colin Kaepernick lost his job by choosing the path he did. Not one NFL team elected to take advantage of his services due in large part to the baggage associated with his name.

The Xavierite feels the NFL’s approach to combatting Trump’s inexcusable comments may be a positive representation on the surface. However, “taking a knee” is turning more into a trend, which strips the action from its original spirit.

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Written By: The Xavierite Editorial Board

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