To kneel or not to kneel: Divisive protest method has everyone taking sides

To kneel or not to kneel: Divisive protest method has everyone taking sides

The controversy surrounding players of the National Football League (NFL) has been dominating the sports headlines as some athletes have been kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and racism in America.

Athletes such as Colin Kaepernick decided to take a stance, resulting in a movement. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder,” Kaepernick said in an interview with NFL Media.

Kaepernick has since been released by the San Francisco 49ers and remains a free agent. The consensus around the league is that owners refuse to sign Kaepernick in fear of the backlash they’d receive from their respective fan bases.

Those who oppose the protest believe kneeling during the anthem is a sign of disrespect toward the military and patriotism. Many people have commented on the protest including President Donald Trump, who during a rally in Alabama said, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b**** off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired.”

This movement has spread to student-athletes in Montgomery County as they are now faced with the issue of whether or not they want to take a stance on the issue. The football team has thought about the issue and some players are considering kneeling during the National Anthem. “Being half white and half Latino, I’ve seen both sides of the issue. Being discriminated [against] and seeing people you love being discriminated [against] is a sickening feeling. I don’t mean any disrespect to the country I’ve learned to love and call home and all the troops who have lost their life and all the families who have served. I am considering doing this to protest [for] equal rights because at the end of the day we are all the same and it is wrong to think otherwise,” senior defensive lineman Sam Alborta said.

According to MCPS students and rights guidebook, students are permitted to exercise their freedom of speech as long as it does not create an unproductive and negative learning environment. Some athletes feel it is important to express their freedom of speech. “I believe we have the right to express our opinion because the issue as a whole must be dealt with. As student- athletes, we can make a difference as a unified team. When we raise awareness about an issue, ” senior defensive back Preston Shay said.
Other students don’t feel high school is the appropriate place to protest. “I think that athletes should have the option to kneel if they feel that it is right. Personally, I would not do it in high school because it is not that big of a stage as the professional level. But, I’m grateful athletes like Kaepernick are setting an example,” senior receiver Elijah Trent said.

While the protests continue, student athletes around the nation will continue to decided whether or not they will participate in the protest until the issue of police brutality becomes resolved.

Alyssa Bursie

Commons Editor