By Reilly Geraghty
Sunday is traditionally a day of football for Americans. This past Sunday, the professional football players of the NFL did more than play the game. Over 200 players chose to sit or kneel during the national anthem as a sign of protest.
NFL player Colin Kaepernick started kneeling during the playing of the national anthem in the 2016 season as a symbol of silent protest for racial injustice and police brutality. Other players decided to follow his actions by doing the same. The protests increased dramatically Sunday. It is allegedly said to be due to a comment President Donald Trump made that Friday.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b—h off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired,’” Trump said at a campaign-style rally in Huntsville, Alabama.
Other players responded by standing and locking arms during the anthem. As for the Pittsburg Steelers, only one player came out of the locker room– a former Army Ranger who toured in Afghanistan, Alejandro Villanueva. Villanueva stood with his hand on his heart for the playing of the national anthem. The Seattle Seahawks and the Tennessee Titans did not come out on the field for the anthem.
“As a team, we have decided we will not participate in the national anthem. We will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of color in this country. Out of love for our country and in honor of the sacrifices made on our behalf, we unite to oppose those that would deny our most basic freedoms. We remain committed in continuing to work towards equality and justice for all. Respectfully, the Players of the Seattle Seahawks,” was the statement made by the Seattle Seahawks on their Twitter page.
When the teams and team owners knelt, sat, and locked arms on Sunday, fans booed. Many sport fans and Americans believe that it is disrespectful toward the flag to not stand with one’s hand over their heart during the national anthem. Some NFL players agree.
“I disagree with what the President said and how he said it. I think it’s very unbecoming of the office of the President of the United States to degrade people like that… he’s disappointed a lot of people,” states New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, “As far as the national anthem protest… I will always feel that if you are an American, the national anthem is the opportunity for us all to stand up together, to be unified and to show respect for our country. But if the protest becomes that we’re going to sometimes kneel or not show respect to the flag of the United States of America, and everything that it symbolizes and everything that it stands for, and everything that our country has been through to get to this point, I do not agree with that.”
Students at PRP who are fans of professional football teams have different opinions on President Trump’s statement and the NFL players kneeling. Some agree with the cause of the protest.
“I don’t agree with [Trump’s statement] at all. I don’t think he has the place to tell people how to do it, ‘cause everyone has the right of freedom of protest, so it’s not up to him, and it’s a peaceful protest,” said Senior Nasir Sheikh.
Other students do not agree with the player’s protest. They say that it is disrespectful toward the flag to not stand.
“I agree with a lot of stuff Trump does and says, but I think he is wrong for saying people who don’t stand for the pledge or national anthem should be fired or force to stand. Second of all, I believe that politics should stay out of sports. No person should kneel during the anthem just because they disagree with the president. You stand out of respect,” said Senior Ryan Husband.