Athletes take knee for pregame National Anthem


Brian Gastwirth

Most (if not all) of us are raised being told to stand for what we believe in. Our First Amendment gives us this very right to freedom of expression. If this is the case, why was 49ers player Colin Kaepernick’s decision to stand for what he believes in by sitting during the national anthem criticized so heavily and so widely?
In a nation built on a foundation of pride and patriotism, sitting during the national anthem is on par with sneezing on the Queen of England. What I mean is, it is not done. And when it is, it can cause uproar.
The arguments are easy to understand about why sitting during the national anthem is “wrong”– it is a song that symbolizes independence and the fight for that independence, and by not standing for it, it seems as if all of that sacrifice is being taken for granted. It seems like a deliberate snub toward our nation’s military, soldiers and veterans as well as our Founding Fathers.
While this is a valid argument, we must consider the viewpoints of these very same groups. The intention of our Founding Fathers was to create a nation in which all people are equal and have the same sets of rights (though it took a couple centuries for African Americans and women to be granted these same rights), and if these rights were not being upheld, people have yet another right– the right to revolution.
Kaepernick’s decision to sit during the national anthem showed more courage and patriotism than deciding to stand would have. His refusal to stand has further illuminated racial issues, solidified by the extreme hatred he has received via social media. Along with tweets including racial slurs, pictures and videos of Kaepernick’s jersey being burned have circulated along with the waving of Confederate flags. Critics of Kaepernick have even claimed that he is “Un-American” because of his actions.
If this is the America we stand for, I want no part of it.
Although Kaepernick has more enemies now than he did a month ago, it seems he also has more supporters. Various NFL players have followed Kaepernick’s lead, though, taking to kneeling during the anthem. Kaepernick’s teammate Eric Reid joined him in kneeling at the 49ers final preseason game, and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane decided to sit at another game.
The movement has broken the confines of the NFL though, and has made its outreach to women’s professional soccer player, Megan Rapinoe of Seattle Reign FC. “Being gay, I have stood with my hand over my heart during the national anthem and felt like I haven’t had my liberties protected, so I can absolutely sympathize with (Kaepernick),” Rapinoe said to Galore Magazine.
I hope to see more athletes joining in. Society looks out for heterosexual white men, but what about the rest of us? Next time I hear the national anthem, I will not stand, not for this.


Julia Gastwirth

Managing Editor