Taking a Stand by Taking a Knee

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Sterling Sellers, Sports Journalist

During the 2016 NFL pre-season, San Francisco forty-niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick made the decision not to stand for the national anthem played before the start of each game. The star athlete explained the reason for his actions after the game. “I am not going to stand up to and show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
        Kaepernick’s behavior caused an uproar amongst sports fans and non-sports fans alike. Many believe that his actions were disrespectful towards the flag and members of the military. While others believe that someone who makes millions per year should be thankful for the life he has.
         Recently, Kaepernick’s actions have inspired others in the NFL to participate in similar protests. Many players, and whole teams have refused to stand for the anthem. The demonstrations have transcended into other sports as well.
         Even President Donald Trump has weighed in on these protests saying that if a player should refuse to stand, then the owners should “get that SOB off the field.” This has dramatically catapulted the issue into the forefront of national news. The president’s words have split the sports world, and further widened the gap between the two sides of the argument.
        This issue seems to be more than right vs. wrong. Instead the focus should be about the roles that society expects athletes to take in regards to social issues. Many athletes are criticized for voicing their opinions because of their social and financial status. What makes the millionaire athlete’s opinion less valid than that of a billion dollar businessman turned president?
         Everyone is entitled to a say, and everyone should be allowed to peacefully protest. These athletes shouldn’t have to put their jobs in jeopardy if they want to voice their opinion. Instead of respecting the opinions of others, people are completely refusing to coexist.
         Kaepernick is now a free agent. He is completely ready to play, but no one is willing to sign the quarterback who started on a super bowl team just a few years ago. It is yet to be seen if Kaepernick will be able to revive his career, or if his career will be the only one tarnished by the decision to speak one’s mind.
         The issue doesn’t seem to be making any positive strides either. People are offended by a peaceful protest to the point of intolerance to opposition views. This regression is sickening to a degree, and the regression will continue if the American people are unwilling to see eye to eye.