Two opinion writers take on the NFL national anthem protests
The Santa Clara
October 26, 2017
Donald Trump has a lot on his plate. Senator Jeff Flake just announced he will not be running for re-election out of spite for Trump’s administration, the Puerto Rican power grid is still in shambles and North Korea has demonstrated cyber attack capabilities outstripping our worst nightmares.
Naturally, the President looked for distractions.
Among this week’s sideshows is his decision to revisit the NFL national anthem protests: a dead horse so thoroughly beaten that it is pulp by now.
Though this month-old public discourse has been all but forgotten, the President decided he was not finished with the handful of players still opting to demonstrate during the national anthem.
This past Monday, he tweeted, “Two dozen NFL players continue to kneel during the National Anthem, showing total disrespect to our Flag & Country. No leadership in NFL!”
Though the drama surrounding the National Anthem protests is contentious and polarizing, the issue itself is not that nuanced. In fact, it is pretty cut and dry.
When it comes down to it, there are two sides to this debate; either you believe in the First Amendment, or you believe in Donald Trump. Freedom of speech allows these players to protest however they see fit.
Becoming president does not imbue you with the privilege of threatening private citizens’ employment because they do not see eye-to-eye with you ideologically. Someone who has sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution should
That is why Donald Trump is wrong about this topic, but that is not why I am writing this article. The reason I am writing this is because this issue should be irrelevant by now.
It was phased out of the news cycle, and then it became exactly what it should be: a forgettable blip that will momentarily resurge when news outlets do their “year in review” segments in December.
It did not deserve Trump’s attention in the first place and, given the myriad of issues with dire implications he has to tackle, it certainly does not deserve his attention now.
Trump’s decision to drum this issue back up is a reflection of two of the traits coming to define his tenure in office: his knack for diversion and his insistence on winning every battle he engages in—regardless of how trivial or impossible it may be.
There is absolutely no way Donald Trump is going to stop NFL players from kneeling during the anthem. The whole issue has come to a stalemate and that is exactly how it is going to remain.
But he refuses to let it go.
One reason for his unreasonable tenacity on NFL protests is political.
For his base, the dispute is a welcome distraction from the country’s more pressing issues—because it’s easy to make sense of it.
If his supporters are allocating their energy at the Green Bay Packers , Trump can shift the discourse away from topics like gun control in the wake of Las Vegas or North Korea’s newly discovered cyber terrorist capabilities. He can do all this while keeping his base riled, passionate and deep in his corner.
However, to call Trump’s tweet purely political might be giving him too much credit.
Though he understands the political ramifications of what he is saying, I think he is genuinely invested in winning this dispute. He was scorned when NFL owners were not receptive to his demand that they fire the “sons of b*****s” who knelt.
He became even more upset when the league collectively demonstrated against him. He brought this issue up as a deflection, but that does not mean it is not personal for him.
Donald Trump’s decision to rehash the NFL controversy is a testament to his character and political identity.
Donald Trump the politician did it for political capital; Donald the man did it because he cannot settle for anything but consummate victory. Both reasons are equally troubling.
A great man once said, “To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”
For the record, that was not Colin Kaepernick; that was Teddy Roosevelt.
Jay Fuchs is a senior communication major.
The Santa Clara
October 26, 2017
Football was once the place where politics and divisive conversations would cease to exist for a few hours each week.
Now, the National Football League has evolved into one of the most powerful social and political platforms
in the country. From its players organizing a lockout in 2011 to news of the league suppressing reports of a fatal concussion linked brain disease, the NFL has no doubt been entrenched in issues extending far beyond the game itself. Fans cannot seem to get away from the drama now, even on days not called Thursday, Sunday or
President Trump recently embarked on a Twitter crusade against the NFL and its personnel for failing to stand during the National Anthem.
The act of kneeling during the anthem began as a lone protest against police brutality by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. With several big teams—and even Bellarmine College Prep down the road from us—kneeling, the process has been transformed into a sweeping symbol of defiance in the face of discrimination and Donald Trump’s presidency itself.
What surprises me most is not the refusal to stand during the anthem, but rather the hypocrisy surrounding the league in general—particularly when it comes to gender issues.
On Oct. 4, Cam Newton pointedly questioned the credibility of a reporter simply because she was a woman. When she asked him about his in game strategy, Newton chuckled and saying it was “funny to hear a female talk about
While he himself has not actually knelt thus far, Newton has come out in support of Kaepernick’s original message of social equality.
And then there are the repeated incidents of domestic violence committed by the athletes themselves. Ezekiel Elliot, the Dallas Cowboys’ running back, is the most recent player with charges brought against him. After being accused of domestic violence more than a year ago, Elliot now faces a six game suspension.
Unfortunately, this is not an unusual scenario in the NFL. During the draft in May, six of the players selected—including one during the first round— were suspected of sexual assault or abuse. I recognize the ignorance of a few does not detract from the larger issue at hand—racial injustices within the nation.
A majority of these athletes do not engage in these problematic behaviors and work hard to be good role models. Many have chosen to use the stage they’ve earned to speak out for what they feel is a genuine problem. Sports have long served as a chance for dialogue from otherwise voiceless communities, dating back to Tommie Smith’s famous raised fist following his win at the 1968 Olympics.
While some may use the bad behavior of a few as an excuse to discredit the message behind the protests, many people are genuinely insulted by players taking a knee during the anthem. Those who have lost loved ones fighting overseas could interpret it as a slap in the face.
In order for such polarizing demonstrations to unite people toward a common goal, a few things need to be corrected, including the integrity of some of the athletes themselves. It’s hard to take someone supporting the message of social inequality seriously while he simultaneously berates a female journalist for her gender.
Before standing up (or rather kneeling) for an issue, it is the players’ responsibility to come together and recognize that their message is important, but so too is the message of others experiencing injustices.
The players (and coaches) must also conduct themselves in a way that won’t allow anyone to discount what they’re trying to say. Yes, they are people too and will still make mistakes. But gun, sexual assault and other criminal charges will only continue reinforcing negative perceptions.
Earning respect off the field will be the difference between remembering “that time when NFL players knelt during the anthem” and remembering when the NFL transcended sports altogether and accomplished something on a national scale.
John Brussa is a junior management major and editor of the Opinion section.