By Anthony Santangelo, sports editor
Politics has been a major part of the NFL due to issues surrounding the protests of athletes. As a football player in high school, I could never see myself kneeling during the national anthem. I feel to invested in our country to ever not show appreciation to a country that is based on free democracy. Even though I consider myself a conservative, I don’t believe the NFL players are disrespecting our country or troops.
Athletes such as Colin Kaepernick and Malcolm Butler have made it clear that the reason they are protesting is because of the oppression of African Americans within the United States. I have nothing that I could relate to this topic because I have never experienced racism or oppression due to my ethnicity or race.
This issue is reflective of a bigger problem in society and being only 17 years old, I find it difficult to relate to the conversations in our nation today. When I first saw Trump’s tweet that mentioned owners should fire NFL players who protest the anthem and referred to them as “son[s] of b——“, I was baffled.
I wasn’t surprised by the tweet itself but rather the way the President addressed the issue at hand. The NFL players were only protesting because of racism in our country and Trump, along with a multitude of other Republicans, immediately jumped to the conclusion that these athletes are disrespecting our flag and country.
Following President Trump’s tweet, many teams united as one in protest against Trump’s message to NFL players. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks chose not to participate in the national anthem. The Dallas Cowboys kneeled as a team prior to the national anthem then stood as the first notes began to play.
I can recall watching the Bears vs. Steelers game and my dad telling me that the Steelers did not even come out of the tunnel during the national anthem. I was frustrated at first.
After learning about Trump’s tweet after this game, it dawned on me that people who don’t receive all perspectives may only believe one side of the story. If I never heard about Trump’s tweet, I would have thought the Pittsburgh Steelers were a bunch of jerks.
The first amendment gives the American people the right to petition for what they believe. In all honesty, the NFL players have the right to kneel and send a message to millions of fans that they recognize the injustices of our country.
They want to acknowledge the fact that America is not perfect and I agree with them. America is far from perfect. Without acknowledging the problem first, there is no way we could ever solve the issue. In fact conflicts between politics and sports has been going on for multiple decades.
In 1968, US Olympic athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave a raised fist “black power” salute on the medal stand as the Star-Spangled Banner was being played.
They were thrown out of the Olympics. Four years later, US Olympians Vince Matthews and Wayne Collett, who were also African American, were barred from competition in the Olympics when they were considered to have shown not enough respect from the medal stand.
In today’s society, it benefits the American people as a whole if they understand what both sides are arguing. The protests by the NFL players are only to recognize injustice and nothing more. Not knowing what has occurred in society may lead to misinterpretation and pre-determined judgment of an issue at hand.
Therefore these demonstrations should not offend people because of these player’s actions. They should think about the freedom that we have in America that allows these players to exercise their righ’s for something that is important to them.