The question surrounding the NFL and the sports world since August 26, 2016, has been this: to kneel or not to kneel? If you were wondering, this has everything to do with the protesting of the national anthem by 49er’s player Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick’s reason for choosing to sit during the national anthem was to bring attention to the oppression against people of color and police brutality. A week later, Eric Reid, who is a teammate of Kaepernick, joined in on the protest. Eric Reid was not the only NFL player to join in on this protest; a few other players throughout the NFL did as well. On Sept 16, 2016, the protest reached high school football and by Sept 20, 2016, former Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch supported Kaepernick and his protest on Conan. Toss in a few player interviews and watch a few hours of Sports Center and the conversation is started. Overall, the protest was successful in doing its job in starting the conversation about the very thing the flag represents, which is to protect the rights of all Americans.
Unfortunately, Kaepernick became a martyr in the process—he is now blacklisted from the NFL. While the NFL owners will never say they blacklisted Kaepernick, there is no coincidence that during the summer of 2017, Kaepernick got maybe three workouts with teams, while even poor quarterback Jay Cutler got dragged out of retirement to play football. To make matters worse, President Donald Trump,made sure the world knows how he feels about the protest. In Huntsville, AL on Sept 23, 2017, President Trump said he hoped NFL players who knelt during the national anthem would lose their jobs. The President of the United States of America is openly trying to deny NFL players of their first amendment right to freedom of speech. Is the President’s job not to protect the constitutional rights of ALL Americans?
“God bless every player that finds courage to kneel today. But the real power comes from you deciding to not watch,” says rapper J. Cole, Sept 24, 2017. Before President Trump’s statement on Sept 24, the question was to kneel or not to kneel. Now the question is: to watch or not to watch? People all across the U.S. are boycotting the NFL. Not only are individual people not watching the NFL, but some businesses such as sports bars are refusing to play NFL games on their televisions. The hurdle that this protest has to overcame is that the NFL is a billion dollar industry that is ingrained in the culture of the United States. To put it simply, the NFL is not going anywhere anytime soon. Personally, I agree with Kaepernick’s stance, and I feel shame when I hear our President’s words on the issue. That being said, I love the sport of football too much to boycott the NFL. But, if you are thinking about boycotting the NFL I suggest that you consider the following questions. Is this protest worth the effort? If enough people join this protest, will it be enough to spark change? To what extent will we let President Trump dictate how we live our lives?