Why the NFL and MLB anthem protests are not about the flag

“Get the son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!”

These were President Donald Trump’s words last Friday, Sept. 22 in Huntsville, Alabama, regarding what he would like to hear NFL owners say to their players who do not stand for the national anthem.

In response to Trump’s statement, the first MLB player, Oakland A’s rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell, knelt during the national anthem the following day.

The NFL thoroughly protested Sunday, with almost all teams either kneeling, locking arms or staying in the locker room altogether during the anthem. Even owners locked arms with their players on the sideline, showing gestures of unity in a time of chaos.

The president’s comments last weekend certainly caused players of multiple sports to speak out about what many believe are injustices and join in on a movement brought into the spotlight by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick last season.

Kaepernick was taking a seat during the anthem starting last August because he refused to show pride in a country that he felt oppressed African-Americans and had them murdered in the streets, even by police. From there, the protests spread nearly league-wide after the president attacked NFL players as a whole.

San Francisco State baseball player Zac Neumann said, in regards to this movement, “ … it’s a protest against racism and violence against people of color. As Americans, we have the right to protest and voice our opinions.”

Many athletes have found these protests to be a demonstration of their rights and opinions. Some, however, feel that this is not the way to go about protesting the anthem.

SF State baseball player Jackson Kritsch, for one, strongly thinks kneeling is not how these issues will be solved.

“These protests are disrespectful to not only the people who have served and died for this country but also [to] their families and loved ones who have had family members lay their lives on the line for the country,” Kritsch said. “The only reason why we are free… [is] due to the fact that these underpaid and underappreciated soldiers lay their lives on the line every day to protect us.”

Rather than kneel for the anthem, Kritsch said he feels that players “could be proactive and help out their communities and actually work to change them and not just take a knee.”

However, Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James explained what he sees the protests are about during the team’s media day on Monday.

“…It’s not about the disrespect of the flag and our military and everybody that has made this world free. It is about equality and people having the option and the freedom to speak upon things they feel that aren’t just… This is not a disrespect to the men and women who have served our world to help us become free,” James said. “It’s not about that. It’s the furthest thing from that.”

Everyone has an opinion on this issue, and this divisiveness can be seen throughout the country.

However, through all this disagreement, athletes of multiple sports leagues will continue to lock arms and kneel in protest of the social injustices they would like to see changed in this country.

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