On Friday, Sept. 22, President Donald Trump made some less than professional comments about football players who choose to take a knee during the National Anthem.
The comments included calling grown men “sons of bitches,” and saying that if they disrespect the American flag, they should lose their jobs. This issue, however, is not about the flag at all. It is about supporting a country that shows a huge disregard for black bodies and black lives. It is about the complete disrespect that black people are faced with on a daily basis from police, the workplace, the system and our president.
In turn, there was an uproar from various athletes and athletic organizations. The NFL as a whole released a statement calling Trump’s comments “divisive.” On Sunday, Sept. 24, there was an obvious show of support from teams and individual players decided to either take a knee, put their fists up or even stay in the locker room while the anthem was being played. Two of the performers for the anthem took a knee as well.
Even though the support for Colin Kaepernick was beautiful, I do have a few issues with what has taken place since the President’s comment.
Donald Trump was upset with ESPN host Jemele Hill for calling him a “white supremacist” on Twitter, yet for some reason he finds it okay to get on national television and call athletes out of their names. However, I didn’t find that same passion within Trump when he was calling Neo-Nazis, white supremacists who carried lit torches and promoted violence and murder, “very fine people.” Not only were his comments violent, inappropriate and uncalled for, but they were also arguably targeted at a specific group of people. I say this because the overwhelming majority of the men who kneel on game days are African American, so that has to be who his remarks are directed to.
More than 30 NFL teams issued statements expressing their solidarity with their players. Teams such as the New England Patriots said that they “are proud to be associated with players who make such tremendous contributions in positively impacting our community. Their efforts, both on and off the field help bring people together and make our community stronger.” The Steelers even opted to not be present during the anthem.
My question is, where was this support when Kaepernick first began the kneeling trend? Why does Colin Kaepernick still not have a roster spot on any NFL team? It seems as if he has been black balled from the league for simply exercising his first amendment right to peaceful protest.
I also wonder why it took a derogatory comment from the president to cause such an uproar, or as some people are saying, unity within the sports world. Why more than one year after Kaepernick first took a knee do players think it’s important to kneel? Is it because they are upset at Donald Trump, and they feel as though there is a point to prove? Or is it because they genuinely feel the effects that racism and police brutality have on the community? After all, that is the reason why Kaepernick began kneeling in the first place.
If a player or team is protesting against the national anthem, it should be done with pure intentions and not because of a hashtag, trend or in reaction to President Trump. It should be done because each individual knows why he or she has to take a knee.