NFL Protests Spur Strong Reactions

Matt Mullen, Outreach Manager

“The NFL has decided that it will not force players to stand for the playing of our national Anthem. Total disrespect for our great country.” This tweet, made by President Donald J. Trump on October 18th, 2017, reignited the controversy about athletes protesting during the national Anthem.

These protests, done by sitting or kneeling during the national Anthem at the National Football League, or NFL, games, aim to bring attention to police brutality against people of color. Colin Kaepernick was the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers when he started his protests in 2016. When he started, he made no comment about it until he was asked.

In fact, Kaepernick sat  during the anthem for two games and went completely unnoticed. It was not until the third game that someone accidentally noticed while taking a photograph. When asked about his actions, Kaepernick explained, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

This year, this protest movement has grown significantly, with large numbers of players sitting, kneeling, or locking arms to unify themselves. President Trump has been making a huge deal about being against these kinds of protests, seen through his many tweets on the matter. He is clearly upset with the NFL for not punishing players who sit out during the national anthem. The First Amendment gives citizens the right to freely protest against the government, but Trump has continued to make his opinion clear, saying that these players should be punished.

On October 6th, the famous rapper Marshall Mathers, better known as Eminem, decided to make his opinion known at the Black Entertainment Television Awards. At the BET Awards, he released a cypher, which is defined as a group of rappers who freestyle battle either live or in a video. In this cypher Eminem, as usual, did not hold back. He took a stand against Trump and made it clear that anyone who supports Trump is not a fan of his music and himself. Immediately following the show, Snoop Dogg, another famous rapper, posted a video supporting his long-time friend. This started the flood of celebrities who supported his stance. As the movement has grown, the amount of people taking notice has increased greatly.

In many communities, there have been citizens taking it upon themselves to make a stand. One example being local bars who refuse to show the games until the protests end, regardless of the loss of business on game nights. The movement has even affected Holbrook students, many feeling strongly about their side of the argument. One such student, Aiden Kelly, feels annoyed with how the actions of the players have been taken out of context. He says that the protest is not against the nation or the anthem, but rather “people speaking out for people who don’t really have a voice.”

Another Holbrook student, Niall Horgan, stands on the other side of the argument, saying he respects the players’ actions, but, “they could be causing too much damage to themselves and the league that may not be able to be repaired down the line.” Whatever side the students stand on, one fact remains clear: the protests during the national anthem have been successful in raising awareness.