The NFL and the National Anthem

By: Tyler Zaring, Sports Editor

With the start of school and the month of September also comes football for all age groups. Being one of the top four major sports in America mean that many people tune in on Sundays to watch their favorite NFL team. This year has been a completely different story for fans and their team’s.

I rarely miss watching my favorite Kansas City Chiefs game no matter the day and this year has been no different. For other fans this year, that is not true. Due to the players and at times even the owners demonstrations during the National Anthem many fans have vowed to never watch another game. Others have taken it a step further and joined in America’s new favorite thing to do in sports by burning their team jersey, flag, and even season tickets.

The player protests started last year when Colin Kaepernick started by protesting police brutality during the National Anthem by kneeling during it’s playing. This year the protests have broadened with even more players participating and whole teams taking a “stand”, or in this case a knee. When discussing the issues the NFL are faced with it is important to remember the demographic that typically makes up the NFL viewers. Many of these people are blue collar and either served in the military themselves or have relatives that have. Kneeling during the National Anthem particularly angers these people and has led to them turning their TV’s off and refusing to watch.

Those that are boycotting the NFL over these issues are either missing the point or just not listening to the point issues that the players are protesting for. The people that are boycotting the NFL say that the players are disrespecting the flag by kneeling during the Anthem and thereby disrespecting those that have served so that they are free. Since when is kneeling seen as disrespectful? As far as I have ever known in history kneeling has been seen as a way to show reverence towards what you kneel to. In this case they are still showing respect to the flag but in a different way that for some odd reason outraged many Americans. The issues that these people are missing and the players are bringing up are that there is still police brutality towards African Americans and that Colin Kaepernick should be able to have a job as a quarterback in the NFL.

With as many injuries to star quarterbacks such as Deshaun Watson and Aaron Rodgers the second issue has grown much stronger in the past few weeks. Kaepernick not long ago took the 49ers to the Super Bowl and has definitely shown he is better than more than a few of the current starting quarterbacks. After last year owners have seen Kaepernick as a distraction to their team and someone that would not be worth all of the extra attention that he would bring if they were to sign him. This issue has gained ground with the NFL agreeing to meet with owners, players, and Colin Kaepernick together to try and fix this problem. While it is growing this issue still follows as a background to the bigger issue.

The bigger issue is that the players are trying to take a stand for all minorities in America but in particular that African Americans have been brutally beaten and killed by police in this country. The players think using the one public access they have they can bring this issue to the front of the view of everyone in the country. This has worked beautifully to get things talked about but has led to little or no actual changes.

The way the players could better use their time and money and not lose viewers for their games which takes money away from them is by starting more funds for those affected by police brutality which many of them already do. They could also spend money to take this issue to a higher power that can enact a law or at least begin to make police officers more accountable. Finally the players could work with the NFL in order to start a civil rights month such as they already do with their cancer month. The cancer month does not bring in money through the NFL charities but it happens every year and has brought a lot of light to cancer research and has led to others donating to fund research. Doing this for civil rights would keep the issue in the light during games for a whole month and would allow for other issues to be brought to light in later seasons when the current issue has been resolved to the point the NFL thinks they can move to another issue.

While I don’t think I know all because well I don’t these are real solutions that could be used in the coming weeks and would bring all the National Anthem protests to a nice close with real results and allow the season to actually be about the games and the players playing them. Until then as always you will still find me loyally watching football and hoping the players and owners can come to a useful solution.