Why everyone should stop complaining about this issue


Denise Soerens

Denise Soerens, Associate Editor

   As a 16-year-old female with a mind focused on music and education, I can admit that I have attended very few sporting events. I’ve attended a UMHB football game because my youth group was going; I believe my father took me to a baseball game when I was about 4, and I went to another at 14 with a large group of pastor’s kids (but spent the whole time sitting in the air conditioned shops with a friend). I also went to a NASCAR race a few months ago because my dad’s childhood best friend and his son had extra tickets for the up-in-the-sky, fancy food level of the race. In the few sporting events I have attended, I have seen people with their hats on, chattering away and sitting during the national anthem. They did this not out of protest of an unjust world, but because they simply can’t be bothered to show respect for the country. That is the true disrespect in the country.

   Recently, all but 6 NFL teams have begun kneeling during the National Anthem. It started with just Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers, and Kenny Stills of the Dolphins, but the protest has spread. Only the Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals, New York Jets, and Minnesota Vikings have yet to join the protesting. Coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers, upon being asked about his team’s move, responded “some have opinions, some don’t. We wanted to protect those that don’t, we wanted to protect those that do. We came here to play a football game today, and those were our intentions.”

   This protest has caused so much outrage in the country. The President of the United States resorted to calling these players “SOBs” because they exercised their right to free expression. Why, though? That is my question! Every news station, every person, every conversation has been about these players, and the opinion is split. The conservatives think it’s disrespectful, and the liberals think it’s free speech. While I myself almost always lean conservative, I must admonish those siding with the “disrespect” opinion this time! What kind of country have we come to live in that human beings who see an injustice in the world are mocked and ridiculed for trying to draw attention to it! Some things I have heard on the subject: “What is protest going to do?” “Right, these rich, coddled celebrities have ever faced oppression in their lives!” “The disrespect for the country is astounding. People fought for your right to stand.”

   In fact, that is not correct. Our soldiers did not fight for us to force these players to stand, our soldiers fought for their right to choose to stand or kneel. While protest doesn’t actively “do” anything about a problem, it raises awareness and draws attention to the problem, which is the first step. Protest has been about awareness throughout history, what makes it so different now? The one comment that makes me shake my head the most though, is that these players are somehow arrogant for protesting. That because they are rich and famous, they don’t get to claim the minority card. How does that even make sense? It doesn’t. We’re right back to the protest card. They may or may not have experienced oppression, but these players are giving a voice to those who have none. I’ve never been disabled, but if there was a location that refused to cater to the disabled and had no wheelchair-accessible ramps, I’d probably have a problem with that!

   I originally wrote this editorial for my AP English class, and I received full marks (minus a few points for incorrect citations, oops!). My mom saw the feedback pop up, read my article, and took it upon herself to actually email it in its entirety to my father- who promptly wrote me an almost 1500-word email explaining in detail how wrong I am about this subject- despite the fact that he is insistent upon me forming my own opinions. He also did not actually acknowledge any of my points, simply repeating the mindless rhetoric I’ve alluded to above. This is the kind of absurdity and ignorance that makes me just want to face-palm.

   I hope someone can educate the American people, because I know I am sadly unequipped to do so. Why must we cry “disrespect” to those trying to make history? Who is being harmed by these athletes kneeling on the ground to point out something wrong with the world? Perhaps in doing so, they’ve revealed yet another problem with our “great” country. With liberty and justice for all.