Taking a Knee

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Political protests should remain off the field

By Emma Limor ’21 and Lucas Lee ’21

Players taking a knee in the NFL has caught wind this season after Colin Kaepernick’s demonstrations last season.  They have been protesting since Week 1, and by Week 4, the notion of kneeling had gained significant popularity.  Throughout the season, President Donald Trump has actively expressed his opinions about the players’ demonstrations.  Recently, he told football team owners to take players off the field if they plan to take a knee because it is disrespectful to the American flag.  In response to these comments, players have continued to take a knee for a variety of different issues, the most recent being about Houston Texans’ owner, Bob McNair’s, allegedly racist comments.  People have taken a knee as a symbol and rejection of the United States government and its ruling under Trump, as well as to stand up against racism, police brutality and oppression within the U.S.

This movement has been met with controversy, and many have questioned whether players have the right to make political statements during games and if protesting against the national anthem is justified is a focal question.  There are two main arguments that have been made: is this form of protest justified, and is during the national anthem at the beginning of a sports game the right time to be addressing these issues?  The main question of this issue is if the players should protest during professional sports games. Since games are work environments, we must look to societal standards.  In the work world, protests would be an interruption to the work environment, and thus, not permitted.  If an employee disrespects the boss, then the boss has the right to discipline the person. Obviously, the players cannot be denied the 1st Amendment right to protest so, we simply concur that it is unprofessional and disrespectful.

While it is important to address issues within the U.S., the football field is an improper platform for this expression.  Politics should have no place during games because it is a distraction to the viewers and players.  However, players should be able to embrace symbolism and expression once off the field.  Many players justify their actions by saying that their protests get the most attention when on the field, but this only serves as an interruption to themselves and the politically impartial world of sports.  These players should not intertwine their political views with their involvement in professional sports outing, but instead outside of the games use social media as a platform for their expression off the field.  Also, it is widely known that police brutality is awful, and non-sport protests are wildly successful.  When demonstrations take place in the sports world, it not only deters people’s’ ability to engage solely in sports, which is the reason channels like ESPN exist, but also, inherently, deters people from the broader discussion of these issues.  Sports organizations like ESPN have taken a strong political left-wing stance in response to these protests, another reason why these demonstrations lead to an interference in the unbiased sports world.

In conclusion, the sports world should remain politically unbiased and the flag should always be respected.  A key misconception is that the elimination of demonstrations is in opposition to their political meanings, but we must isolate engagement of politics and recognize that it has no place in professional sports.

 

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