Kneeling For Justice – Both Sides Explained


Avery Miller, Cougart Co-Editor, Community Building Co-Editor

Colin Kapernick, the man who started the storm. Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback, took a knee during a pre-season game’s national anthem last year. He stated that he wouldn’t honor the song or, “Show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” The action of taking a knee was an action to raise awareness for racial equality and for police brutality after a few lethal incidents around the same time last year, including the recent shooting deaths of African American police.

He wasn’t fully aware of the debate and controversy that he provoked. All was quiet until last Sunday, September 24th, 2017. Players from several teams including the, New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, the Denver Broncos and the Miami Dolphins, took knees during the anthem. The Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Seattle Seahawks didn’t even take the field until after the flag was displayed and the singing of our anthem was over and done with. Others kneeled until the flag was displayed and then stood, some linked arms.  This sparked a huge response, from citizens, retired veterans, and the media.

President Trump even tweeted to regard the actions taking place. He ordered NFL owners to fire anyone who disrespects our flag. This was further followed up by NFL officials, umpires, coaches, and owners. The NFL front office told CNN “All across the league, owners, coaches and players came together to decide what was best for them.” The source added, “If Trump thought he could divide the NFL, he was wrong.” The official playbook was also sourced for the right of players to stand or sit for the playing of the national anthem. It is indeed true that a player has that right, without getting into trouble.

People found that although these idols were trying to prove a point and raise awareness to societal issues, they are also disrespecting our country’s flag and what we have fought for. For years it has been a tradition and common knowledge to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance or the National Anthem. The fact that these players weren’t standing caused some fans to not watch the football games, on the television or attend the games.

Taya Kyle, the widow of Chris Kyle or “American Sniper”, spoke out about the protests on the field, calling them “disappointing”. Married to Kyle,who  was commonly known as the deadliest sniper in America, she has close ties with veterans and is proud of our country. She loves football and grew up watching it. Kyle wrote a message to the NFL reading, “Did it ever occur to you that you and we were already a mix of backgrounds, races and religions? We were already living the dream you want, right in front of you. Your desire to focus on division and anger has shattered what many people loved most about the sport. Football was really a metaphor for our ideal world –different backgrounds, talents, political beliefs and histories as one big team with one big goal — to do well, to win, TOGETHER.”

In conclusion, she challenges the players present on the field to stand up for this cause in some other way. To raise money towards a charity that helps this cause. Kyle states, “They can do more than just linking arms or kneeling.” These men, who are role models for the upbringing of our society, our America, can help this cause in some other form than showing disrespect to our flag and the people that fought for it.

Others believe that this act out is bringing awareness for the issues that we all face today, what is deeply ingrained in our everyday lives. Many argue that this act isn’t aimed towards the veterans and citizens who are fighting for our country, or aimed to disrespect the flag.

Seahawks Quarterback Russel Wilson was the main leader in the plan to stay in the locker room during the national anthem. Wilson stated “linking arms or kneeling wasn’t enough.” After an hour of controversy and discussion about the issue between the leaders on the team, Wilson, Sherman, Bennett, K.J. Wright, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas finally came to an agreement to stay inside the locker room for the anthem. It wasn’t an easy decision but it was ultimately made to avoid the questions that came after. Some of the members on the team didn’t like the decision being made but went along with their team mates. 

Wright stated,“We were not just protesting Trump,” Wright said. “We were protesting the message. It’s a message that’s been around for a long time. That we can’t do certain things and express ourselves in a certain way, that we aren’t full citizens.”

Bennett also added, “This is beyond a black-white thing. This comes down to what are we going to do as a country, as a world to start taking care of people for just being people.”


Sources: CNN, WashingtonPost,