Aaron’s Angle




Most of the time, when a player kneels in football, it is to wind the clock down in the final moments of a game. Recently, however, there has been an opposite trend: players are kneeling before the game during the national anthem, to show disapproval of how our country is being run.

The whole trend started almost exactly a year ago, when Colin Kaepernick first took a knee for the national anthem. Since then, scores of players have joined him in kneeling to show their displeasure with racism and violence.

This has sparked a national debate of massive proportions, with valid arguments on both sides. At the core of this debate: where does freedom of speech end and disrespect start?

On one side are those who think that people have a right to this type of protest. The primary argument is that it falls into the protection of the Bill of Rights. Others say that kneeling during the national anthem disrespects veterans who fought for the country it represents, and that it breaches the first amendment.

I respect anybody who is willing to speak their mind. I have immense respect for people who vocalize (or demonstrate, in this case), their disapproval even though they are aware of the backlash it may cause. I have great respect for those who are willing to stand up or kneel for what they believe in. I really do respect those players for protesting what they perceive as a problem in our country. I just don’t like the way they decided to show it.

I don’t really think that there is anything specifically wrong with kneeling during the anthem. I don’t think that there is anything wrong at all with the players’ message. I do believe something is wrong with the timing of their protest.

Football games started as a way of bringing people together, even in the darkest of times. People watch football to be entertained, not to spark political arguments.

I want to be able to go to a football game to watch football, not to debate someone’s right to protest in a certain way.  I want to open ESPN and see analysis on scores, not on which players knelt a certain week.

There is time in post-game interviews for players to voice their opinion and to argue whatever they want. However, I think that between the time they step onto the field and the time they step off it, the players should be just that: players. Not activists, not politicians,
just players.