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4 Reasons You Can't Blame NFL Players for Kneeling During the National Anthem

I'm a proud American—a patriot. To understand some of the more debatable issues, I like to look at both sides of the story by researching.

Do you agree with kneeling as a way of taking a stand?

Do you agree with kneeling as a way of taking a stand?

Standing during the National Anthem is something we are taught to do from the moment we learn how to walk and talk, but can we justly ridicule those who do not share the same patriotic views?

Since Colin Kaepernick first opted to sit, rather than stand for our National Anthem, the media and political activists have been on a warpath to condemn all those who followed his example. Have we grown so far away from our American roots that we have forgotten what America is all about—freedom?

Here are the top four reasons you cannot blame NFL Players for kneeling during the National Anthem.

1. Colin Kaepernick Decides Not to Stand for a Reason

In several interviews, and even on his Twitter page, Colin Kaepernick stated his reasons for choosing to sit out the National Anthem.

"I’m seeing things happen to people that don’t have a voice, people that don’t have a platform to talk and have their voices heard, and effect change. So I’m in the position where I can do that and I’m going to do that for people that can’t." – Colin Kaepernick

It's not like Kaepernick has anything to personally gain by choosing not to stand. Kaepernick states that he has great respect for the men and women who have served his country, but he will not stand to support a flag that is the symbol of a country that oppresses their minorities. That one statement is enough to explicitly indicate that Kaepernick is not trying to disrespect his country's fallen veterans.

Nate Boyer and Colin Kaepernick showing respect in their own ways.

Nate Boyer and Colin Kaepernick showing respect in their own ways.

2. Taking a Knee Is Actually a Sign of Respect

After Kaepernick sat out the National Anthem for three straight games, Nate Boyer, a former Green Beret and NFL player, took notice. Boyer wrote an open letter directed towards Kaepernick in the Army Times describing how he felt about Colin's decision to sit during the National Anthem.

A few days after Boyer's letter was published, he and Kaepernick met to discuss the reasons Kaepernick was sitting during the National Anthem. Ultimately, the two agreed on a compromise: instead of sitting, Kaepernick would kneel during the National Anthem.

"Kneeling in front of a fallen soldier's grave is a sign of respect" – Nate Boyer.

Kaepernick, of course, had no problem kneeling, in lieu of sitting, to show respect for his country's current and fallen soldiers if it meant he could protest his concerns as well. So, in essence, the kneeling that we are seeing more and more players demonstrate actually derives from a very thoughtful, respectful compromise on Kaepernick's behalf that he had no obligation to agree to.

NFL players are invoking their rights.

NFL players are invoking their rights.

3. NFL Players Are Invoking Their 1st Amendment Rights

Not the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th amendment, but the very first amendment outlined the various freedoms of speech and demonstrations that were allowed to every American. As long as NFL players are not falsely defaming somebody, causing physical harm or damage to property, they are well within their rights as Americans to voice their opinions and kneel, sit, or even lie down during the National Anthem if they so choose.

Berating any individual for their beliefs is the same as censuring them for their religious affiliation or way of life. In other words "Judge not, that ye be not judged" - Matthew 7:1 (KJV).

4. People in Glass Houses Shouldn't Throw Stones

Dating back to the 17th century, this phrase should be a staple in everyone's vocabulary. If you've never heard this quote—and I cannot imagine how you could not have—the underlying meaning is those who are subject to similar or worse persecution for their actions should not start attacking others.

I cannot remember the comedian who said it, but an abstract sample of his monologue is:

"I don't get the big deal with people being offended. It's not like you wake up the next morning after being offended and are sick or dying. Being offended does not hurt you."

Let Us All Be Slow to Anger

In summary, let us all be slow to anger. Let us try to seek explanations and understanding before we decide to condemn others for their beliefs.

Maybe if we could walk in their shoes we would understand how strongly they feel about their beliefs. Are we justified in thinking our beliefs are superior or more logical than others?

I, myself, have and will always stand for our National Anthem. While I do not support their form of protest, I do recognize their right to voice their concerns. I will not be one of the individuals that boycott the NFL for actions they cannot control just because others say I should.

Now that you know their reasons for kneeling, will you be boycotting the NFL for aspects they cannot control? Remember, "One bad apple does not mean the whole barrel is ruined." – Dean Winchester

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.


Aiden on December 26, 2018:

I don't see anything that can cause people to kneel or sit, because our flag does not symbolize oppression of minorities and women, it symbolizes freedom and your right to chose what to do with your life. Affirmative action has been in place for 15+ years, it helps out the minorities hugely. I just don't see anything that will cause someone to kneel.

Reginald Thomas from Connecticut on October 04, 2017:

I do understand and agree with much of what you are saying. My biggest problem with the whole thing is the disrespect we give to the National Anthem, The American Flag, The President ( whoever it is !). It sends the wrong message at the wrong time. And the way people look up to these athletes as “heroes “. They will grow up having little respect also!

DOUBLE R on October 04, 2017:

I agree.

Kari Poulsen from Ohio on October 04, 2017:

Personally, I feel they are well within their rights. They are not trying to show disrespect to this country, veterans, the flag or our service men and women.

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on October 04, 2017:

You are welcome, my friend. As a southerner, football enthusiast (go Pirates, Tar Heels, and panthers!), I understand what the protest was all about. My dad served in the military, and he would have had no problem with the way the young man behaved. I know this is true: my dad served in Vietnam, and he had no problem with Muhammad Ali's protest of that war. He didn't like it, but my dad recognized the famous boxer's right to do so.

I also participated in a few marches in my life. Just like this situation, our message was misrepresented in order to avoid the real issue. It's a product of the delusion to some that nothing is wrong in America if it doesn't impact them.

You were accurate, insightful, and forthright about this matter. We must keep saying the truth over and over again. That's one psychological strategy which helps defeat the cognitive disconnect brought on by delusion.

Jesse James (author) from Crooked Letter State on October 03, 2017:

Tim, Tim, Tim... I always welcome and enjoy a good pun. Thanks for your input.

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on October 03, 2017:

Hi, Jesse James and C. E. Clark:

Beautiful comments. I've checked and currently the NFL has not suffered substantially behind this situation. It's true: I will stand for our flag and our anthem, but a man has a right to protest peacefully anyway he desires. This isn't about money: It's about police brutality. Hiding behind the flag and anthem only serves to disrespect the men and women who died so that their children could grow up without being fatally shot by police at home. (That's poor White, Black, Hispanic, etc.) The irony here is that using the flag and anthem to cover this fact is even more unpatriotic than taking a knee.

A bullet does not discriminate when it fires, but some bad law enforcement officers do.

Just as law enforcement in our nation shouldn't be the property of one group, likewise obeying the law should impact all groups. No one should get a pass.

Your four reasons were right on target - pardon the pun.

Jesse James (author) from Crooked Letter State on October 03, 2017:

Oh, I absolutely agree. The NFL will suffer, and is already. DirecTV has already refunded thousands or NFL Sunday Ticket packages. As for me though, I am not going to let my opinion or the opinions of others keep me from watching a sport I love. And I certainly won't boycott the NFL for something they have no control over. To me, that's like disliking a person because of the color of their skin - they have no control over that.

breakfastpop on October 03, 2017:

Okay then, there are consequences for this kind of behavior. I say let the free market and free will reign, and I have no doubt that thNFL will suffer financially. Ouch!

Jesse James (author) from Crooked Letter State on October 03, 2017:

Hi breakfastpop, and thank you for your comment. While I understand your opinion and agree that you have every right to that opinion, the purpose of this article is to educate those that are unaware of the underlying reasons for the NFL players protest. Many people think that the players are blatantly trying to disrespect veterans. My intent was to highlight the fact that Kaepernick made a compromise that he was not obligated to make in order to show his respect to our service members and also be able to stand for his beliefs. I am as conservative as it gets, but we cannot allow our constitution to be thrown out the window just because we "think" something doesn't belong in a particular sporting event or any other place. I also want to state that this thing is much bigger than Kaepernick now. Entire teams are opting to kneel during the National Anthem due to their beliefs.

breakfastpop on October 03, 2017:

There are any number of ways a person can stand for what they believe in. I get that and I support it, but disrupting a football game and causing such unrest is simply unnecessary. By the way Colin donated a ton of money to an organization defending someone who murdered a cop. That's ugly and has no place in football. It has no place anywhere else either. This ugly divide in our nation started with Obama. Let's hope it ends now.

Jesse James (author) from Crooked Letter State on October 02, 2017:

C E Clark, after reading your comment I almost want to give you this article so you can add this comment to it . Well stated. I really could not add anything more to support your comment.

C E Clark from North Texas on October 02, 2017:

It really comes down to which you value most, the playing of a song (our anthem in this case) at a certain time and place, a piece of cloth stamped to be the U.S. flag, or life itself. There are millions of flags with more produced everyday, and the anthem is played dozens of times everyday.

Disrespecting the flag or the anthem is an action that doesn't have much in the way of after effects. Once a life is snuffed out, it's forever. There's no printing out a new life, and no lifting your instruments and playing out a new life. That life is gone forever.

While the flag and the anthem represent the U.S. and should be appreciated and valued for the symbolism, it is our Constitution that sets the U.S. apart from all other countries. The destruction of the Constitution is far worse than burning a flag or thumbing one's nose at the national anthem. No one is destroying the Constitution and so long as it stands, our country will stand. The First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees free speech.

However if you are a person who places the value of the national anthem or the flag above life, that speaks volumes about who you are.

Of what value are the flag, the anthem, or even the Constitution, if life can be ended merely because a person who shouldn't be in law enforcement in the first place, can end someone's life simply because. Yes, just cuz. What if that life was yours or your child's?

Oh, it wasn't just cuz, you say. The person was driving with a broken tail light on their vehicle. Well, for sure, THAT should be a death penalty offense! Yes, and worst of all, the person was guilty of driving while black. THAT was the true offense. THAT is why a flag and an anthem is valued more than life, because it was a black life. See? I understand better than you think.

There are some white folks shot for similar reasons more often than you might think, but if it were publicized more often, perhaps more people would be putting a knee down in protest. Perhaps if they really thought they or someone they love might be shot for some ignorant reason, they would question exactly where patriotism starts and ends.

What would Jesus say? Good Christians everywhere should question their faith if they imagine Jesus places more importance on a song or a flag than He places on life. ANY human life.

Everyone is allowed to speak, and SCOTUS has ruled that burning the flag, waving at the flag with your middle finger, and a host of other gestures and words are free speech. Everyone or anyone may do so legally.

The thing about free speech is that in order to have the right to speak freely and criticize anything about our country that you wish to criticize without fearing imprisonment, you must grant that same right to everyone else. That means you will have to hear and possibly see some things you aren't going to like. Things you may even hate. That is the price of having free speech for yourself.

So, if you're not yet ready to give up that freedom yourself, then I recommend curtailing your gripes. You can still fart and snort about it if you want, but when it comes to punishing people for the things they say, remember, YOU too can be punished for that same reason. It's an all or none thing. If one person can be punished, black or other, for speaking their minds through words or gestures, then all people could face punishment for using their right of free speech.

Are you ready to lose your job because somebody doesn't like the things you say? Are you ready to be blackballed from employment for life? Are you ready to pay a hefty fine for offending somebody with your words? Are you ready to be deported or imprisoned for life because of your words? If not, then learn a little tolerance. You alone, whoever you are, do not own the right to free speech.

I personally would prefer that protests didn't include our flag, our anthem, or anything else of that nature, but I would also like to see these cops who abuse their authority by beating people up or killing them just because they know they can get away with it, removed from law enforcement permanently. No pencil pushing paper shuffling jobs for them. They should be permanently forbidden to work in law enforcement in any capacity ever again. If their deed was bad enough, they should do some prison time themselves in the general prison population, no special protections.

I understand some cops just want to take some of the burden off the courts, the judges and the juries, but that is beyond their responsibility, beyond their right, beyond their education, training, and pay scale. They need to apprehend only, and let the courts and juries decide if someone should face the death penalty, or get a good thrashing, or both.

No truly Christian nation would tolerate police beating or killing people for any reason, much less some trumped up excuse (no pun intended) because that isn't the job of police, and it's just plain wrong. Neither would a truly Christian nation allow the things that go on in our prison system to continue.

The fact that people rise up to the extent that they have regarding this NFL situation with the anthem and/or the flag tells the world that they are capable of raising holy hell when they want to.

Now if y'all would just raise holy hell for a good reason, like putting cops out of business who abuse their authority and power. Like ending a prison system that ignores and permits unspeakable activities. These things could be done if enough people cared enough to do them -- good Christians that many objectors to the NFL actions claim to be.

Now that we all know that there is power in numbers, use that power for something worthwhile and useful. Use it to end discrimination and unnecessary death in our law enforcement system, and to end depraved activities that are currently rampant in our prisons.

Rebecca Graf from Wisconsin on October 02, 2017:

This has become so heated and things are getting twisted. Whether you agree or not with their actions, they have the right.

Leslie McCowen from Cape Cod, USA on October 02, 2017:

Your welcome. It needs to be said until people get it!

Jesse James (author) from Crooked Letter State on October 02, 2017:

Thank you Yes Dear. I was inspired to write this article after having a conversation with my wife about how her college peers have responded to the NFL players kneeling in protest. This is a very debatable subject in the South as many southerners are very patriotic and conservative. I'm hoping others will read this to understand that this protest is not meant to show disrespect to our veterans and service members.

Leslie McCowen from Cape Cod, USA on October 02, 2017:

Great hub. And from now on i will be kneeling at the anthem as a show of respect for all those who fight to make us live up to our ideals:

All men are created equal

Liberty and justice for all

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