The football player protest has lingered far too long. In fact it is beginning to spread to other sports and venues. The only problem is that this brand of dissent, during the National Anthem played before sporting contests, clouds the objectives of the protesters. In this regard many Americans have mixed emotions about the purpose of the protestors actions. A more organized effort at another moment before an athletic contest would draw significantly more support for social justice.
It all started with a one-man protest by an African American quarterback on the San Francisco 49er team. Many fans were outraged that Colin Kaepernick “disrespected” their flag, their anthem and their country. Kaepernick has repeatedly indicated that this was not his intention. Rather he wanted to make a statement about police brutality directed at African Americans.
Americans appreciate that everyone has a right to protest against anything they want in our country. The Constitution guarantees it. But Kaepernick was employed by the 49ers, and the team’s management expected all the players and personnel to be respectful. The team did not say Kaepernick’s protest was wrong. Rather Kaepernick’s decision to protest at a specific moment dedicated to our country was what really ticked off team managements and anti protesters. By the way Kaepernick is now unemployed. It is debatable whether his protest or his performance on the field is the reason for his inability to find a new job.
Kaepernick has a right to protest, but the fans and observers have a right to challenge him. A large number of people would have been supportive of Kaepernick and all the other players if they protested at any time other than when the anthem was being played. In fact I am sure the NFL would have been happy to give the players a chance to make such a statement.
The ballplayers are highly paid employees of their respective teams. They are living a dream life. If their principles force them to wrap their protest around a sacred rite that is important to millions of Americans, they should expect blow back that may include their dismissal and boos.
Before the NFL game last Thursday night the league did not televise the pregame ceremony that includes the playing of the National Anthem. Why? If there was a protest the NFL did not want to evoke a negative response from the fans on live TV. Football fans are generally nationalistic.
This tiresome ordeal could be put to rest if the NFL, and other sporting teams, organized a pregame program at each event. Perhaps a moment of silence could take place for those who have suffered injustices and in recognition that the relationship between the races still needs more work. After, everybody would stand while the anthem is played.