Standing for the national anthem before games and athletic events is a widespread American tradition that shows support for the country and it’s military.
Nearly two years ago Colin Kaepernick, the former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, chose to sit on the bench during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality. It wasn’t until after the 49ers third preseason game on Aug. 26, 2016, that his protest gained national attention, and the backlash against him began. Kaepernick’s decision to sit was later misconstrued as disrespectful to the country, American flag and military personnel.
Before this was brought to the media’s attention, players were required to stand for the national anthem or their teams would face consequences.
On May 23th, NFL owners voted to change league rules and these new rules allow players to remain in the locker room for the anthem. Staying in the locker room during the national anthem was previously banned. These new rules also encourage teams to punish players who violate the new protocol. Even though players have the option to stay in the locker rooms, they are encouraged to stand and support the country. “We want people to stand — that’s all personnel — and make sure they treat this moment in a respectful fashion. That’s something we think we owe. [But] we were also very sensitive to give players choices,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said.
Some people think that it was President Donald Trump’s criticism that pushed the league to shift its stance. It is alleged that the league and its 32 teams colluded to keep Kaepernick unsigned last season because of Trump’s political views. “League executives publicly repeated the NFL’s aim to stay out of politics. But privately, they made political calculations in response to Mr. Trump’s repeated hammering of the issue” according to an article in the NY Times.
It can be argued that Kaepernick’s human rights were compromised. He lost his job because he took a stand and tried to send a message to the nation about a topic that affected him personally. “I still think it is so unfair that he no longer plays because of his views,” freshman Kyler Hamlin said.
Football players should remain standing during the national anthem because it is something that the entire nation unites to do together. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints quarterback, supported Kaepernick’s message but disagreed with the delivery: “[I]t’s an oxymoron that you’re sitting down, disrespecting that flag.”
By not standing for the national anthem, it can get in the way of the message of thanking soldiers and granting our freedom.