I wasn’t going to do it. I didn’t want to.
However, after seeing so many players choose the 15th anniversary of 9/11 as the day to begin practicing the 2016 version of Kaepernicking, I have to say something about all this.
I’m not going to dig deep into the racial bias discussion that has been plaguing the country for years. I'm not going to talk about whether Colin and crew are right or wrong. I'm not going to talk about whether I feel certain groups are being disrespected by all of this. I don't have enough space for all of that. We can talk about that at another place at another time.
What I will talk about, though, is choosing your presentation.
I am a big believer in maintaining your constitutional rights. That includes the first amendment right that grants freedom of speech, among other rights. If someone feels the need to protest, by all means, they should protest. What Colin Kaepernick has done to show his opinion is a form of peaceful protest that I respect much more than rioting in the streets, hoping to change someone’s opinion of your race.
Since he first sat through the National Anthem in a preseason game a month or so ago, he has had various players, both teammates and opponents, follow suit. Good for them. Those players have used the platform they have gained as high-level professional athletes to silently voice their opinion on something they truly believe in.
So why did I get so bothered on the opening Sunday for the National Football League?
I was bothered because so many chose to join the cause, causing CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN to focus so much attention on these players, on a day where we should be focusing on honoring the 2,996 victims who perished in a senseless act of violence 15 years ago.
The day is not, as I have seen various people say, a day to remember the resulting war and the soldiers fighting said war. The day has nothing to do with law enforcement agencies across the country, outside of the 60 officers who perished attempting to save so many terrified people 15 years ago. It was not a day celebrating anything that these players are speaking or sitting out against, but a day to mourn those who we lost in the deadliest terror attack in American history.
What was even more bothersome to me about the players joining the cause was that so many, instead of taking a knee or sitting during the playing of the anthem, chose to raise their first high into the air, reminiscent of the Black Panther Party.
The Black Panther Party was a nationalist and socialist organization that was active for nearly 20 years. The Party instated many social programs and did do quite a bit of good for the United States. An argument can be made that they were one of the most influential reform organizations in modern history.
However, the party also had a violent reputation. They took advantage of open carry laws to carry around weapons during their “policing of the police”, a practice of monitoring police during interactions with black citizens. They made it known they would not hesitate to use violence if it came necessary. They had armed patrols throughout black neighborhoods, patrols that were known to threaten police and recite violence-advocating chants.
While the founders of the party were adamant that the party was not intended to be a violent party, there was certainly arms of the party that were or had no issue with being violent.
Now, almost 50 years after the founding of the Black Panther Party, the country has come full circle, with racial inequality back in the spotlight and people are once again using their symbol as a symbol of protest.
Many of the athletes in question did stand silently and respectfully during moments of silence that were held before the national anthem at most of the games on Sunday. I commend them for that.
However, just seconds later, during what was sure to be the most emotional National Anthem performance each stadium would see all year, with families of 9/11 victims, police officers, service men and women, fire fighters and even some football players, who weren’t given nearly as much attention as those with their arms extended upward, unfolding Old Glory across the field, some players decided to raise their fist in the air.
Using a symbol of a party that is remembered for the violent clashes with police, among other parties, is not appropriate during the national anthem on any day. It’s especially inappropriate on a day that is important in American history because of the shear amount of people who died as the result of unnecessary violence 15 years before.
Unite in your protest. Kneel or sit together. 9/11 brought out unity in this country that has not been matched in my lifetime. Unity should be celebrated every year on that day. Unity that the country needs again.
However, on that particular day with that particular gesture was the wrong way to protest.
Choose a better presentation.
Game of the Week
This week, you can find me working two football games. There will be no volleyball game of the week. Instead, we will start Friday off as Creighton takes on West Holt in a 1:30 p.m. game and then we will head to Elkhorn Valley for their homecoming game as they host Allen.
As always, if you have a team you want to see featured, e-mail, comment or message me your who and why. E-mails can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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