A Brief History
On September 24, 2017, numerous NFL football players took a knee rather than stand for the playing of the National Anthem at this week’s football games. A practice started last year by quarterback (now unemployed) Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49’rs that spread intermittently throughout the league, had largely died down, with players expressing their displeasure with the state of affairs in the United States by the less threatening action of joining arm in arm while the National Anthem is played and or sung before games.
Today, not only did 21 Cleveland Browns players take a knee, but the entire Pittsburgh Steelers team stayed in the locker and refused to come out to the field for the playing of the pre-game National Anthem. One Steeler did emerge from the locker room to stand at attention with his hand over his heart, Army veteran Alejandro Villanueva, a combat veteran of 3 tours in Afghanistan. The Seahawks and Titans also stayed in the locker room. Most other teams had at least some players take a knee and or link arms. Fans across the country were split on whether “freedom of speech” extends to one’s employment, since most people are prohibited from political expression while working and do not understand why football players are allowed to do so. Many fans booed the players that showed their distaste for whatever they perceive American life to be at this time.
President Donald Trump upped the ante this week with heated denunciation of players taking a knee or otherwise “disrespecting the flag” and opined any player doing so should be “fired.” (He used stronger terms.) Outraged media pundits went on a rampage against Trump’s comments, and many prominent athletes likewise shook their heads and called Trump “un-presidential.” Many NFL owners and management teams spoke out in favor of their players, including the protesters, as did the Commissioner of the NFL. Singer of the National Anthem at the Seahawks-Titans game took a knee, and so did Rico LeVelle, the singer performing the National Anthem at the Lions-Falcons game, and he gave a Black Power salute at the end as well.
Question for students (and subscribers): How will this behavior affect the NFL in terms of fan appreciation? Will fans turn off their televisions and refuse to attend games? Will viewership and attendance at games remain the same? Does the public support the players, or resent their actions? Should the National Anthem even be played before games??? What if White Supremacists players gave the Nazi salute during the National Anthem? Just exercising their rights? Let us know what you think of all this back and forth about the protocol for the playing of the National Anthem at football games in the comments section below this article. We are reserving judgement for now.
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For more information, please see…
Various. Sports Illustrated September 19, 2016 Khalil Mack The MMQB Issue. Sports Illustrated, 2016.