Athletes take a stand on social issues by not standing for the national anthem
Where only first names appear, names have been changed to protect the identities of the sources
Before the 2016 National Football League (NFL) season began, standing for the national anthem was, from professional stadiums all the way down to small grass high school fields, a given. Now, by virtue of Colin Kaepernick, a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, the national anthem has become another way for people to protest injustice.
Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem prior to a preseason football game has sparked national debate over what the anthem means, what constitutes an appropriate form of protest and even what our rights are as citizens. When Kaepernick first sat for the anthem, he told NFL Media NFL Media that he refused to stand for a country which oppresses people of color. His protest has spawned national praise, criticism and anger, as well as imitation from numerous other athletes at all levels of competition.
While many disagree, Watkins Mill players believe the football field is a great place to recognize social issues. "I think it's a great place to have the discussion. Football is America's sport. If football players do it, it's the best way to get attention," Watkins Mill senior Brian McNeary told the Washington Post Brian McNeary last week during practice. Grant says that the captains kneeled to call attention to important issues raised by Kaepernick, such as police brutality and racial inequality. Watkins Mill coach Mike Brown told a player that "the choice [to kneel] is yours."
The Poms team spoke with their coach prior to the game. "Coach was on the same page as us. She said everyone has the right to express what they believe in," senior pom Ellen said. Coach Makeyda Hilliard opted to let the team figure out what to do. "I have no comment as this was a decision that the ladies on the team made," she said. Poms members were not required to kneel and now, Poms is in the process of exploring other ways to express their stance. "We will most likely continue to protest but are considering other ways of doing it besides kneeling. We haven't really established yet what we will do and if it'll be for the remainder of the season," senior pom Clara explained.
Other Blair football players have voiced a similar understanding for those who protest, but none feel that it is their duty to join it. Senior running back Eric Zokouri said the players "can stand up for whatever they believe in," and that he has no problems with athletes speaking out. But even if Blazers understand those who protest the anthem, most don't know whether they will join in the protest.
Senior wide receiver Cliff Carter wasn't sure if he would ever join the protest. Carter said, "I'm not sure. They're all entitled to their opinions, though." Whether or not any Blair athletes, football or otherwise, will take a knee for the anthem remains to be seen, but it's clear that many Blazers understand and support those who sit down for what's right.
Nate Bodner. I write, I play soccer and I build things for stage crew. Game of Thrones books>T.V show More »