The inequalities, are extensive issues in the United

The NFL represents “The National
Football League,” which is a professional American football league containing
thirty-two teams. Over the past year to present time, there has been a lot of controversy
within the league concerning a major political issue with select NFL players
kneeling during the playing of the national anthem before kickoff. Kneeling is
executed to represent a form of silent protest. The NFL players who are kneeling
believe that there are prevailing issues in the United States that need to be
brought to the public’s attention. According to the philosopher, Boxill,
protest is meant to not only stop the injustice from happening, but to also show
self-respect (Boxill, para 1). The injustices that the NFL players are silently
protesting against during the playing of the national anthem, are police
brutality and racial inequalities occurring in the United States. The issues
behind the protest should be addressed, but the way the NFL is allowing players
to kneel during a time which celebrates patriotism and the symbolic
representation of our country, should not be allowed.

The protest first
began in the NFL when a player from the San Francisco 49ers sat, and then
kneeled during the national anthem while his other teammates remained standing
(“U.S. national anthem protests”, para 2). Ever since
the first player, Colin Kaepernick, kneeled during the anthem, it has started a
widespread protest encouraging other players in the NFL to join. The reasons
behind the protest, such as police brutality and racial inequalities, are
extensive issues in the United States. According to the mapping of police
violence, police have killed 1,079 people in the United States this year. Of
these 1,079 people, 26 percent of those killed were of the African American
race which represents 13 percent of the American population (“Mapping Police
Violence”). These statistics are well known and alarming to most. The NFL
players felt that something needed to be done in order to bring the injustices
to the public’s attention. As mentioned above, the protest itself is genuine,
but the way it is being executed is exceptionally wrong and troubling. My first
argument, is that the form of protest the NFL players are using shows
disrespect towards the members of the military and the American flag because the
national anthem is played during sporting events to display patriotism for the
wars that were fought. The national anthem was written by Francis Scott Key during
the War of 1812, which was a conflict between Great Britain and the United States,
killing roughly 15,000 Americans (“Star Spangled Banner Lyrics”, para 2). By
kneeling, the players are showing a lack of patriotism for our country and this
draws attention away from their concept of protesting. Under Title 36 in the
United States Code, Section 301 states, “all other
person’s present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right
hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their
headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand
being over the heart” (“United States Code”, para 2). Although there is no
federal punishment for violating the United States code, it shows overall
disrespect towards the country. Many soldiers have lost their lives fighting
for the freedom of the United States, and to military personnel, it may come
off as very discourteous.

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The first argument not only enrages the majority who serve
in the military, but it also upsets the fans. The disrespectfulness fans perceive
from the way the protest is performed, can lead to unintended consequences. Protesting
in the public eye may lead to boycotts and un-peaceful events. Ever since the
protest began, more security has been needed at the games  to protect fans from violence that might
occur due to the kneeling that takes place. Also, fans have been committing
arson by burning the jerseys of players who promote the protest to show dislike
(“Refusing to Stand for the National Anthem”, para 8). Not only is the kneeling
making the audience feel uneasy, but causing them to lash out to also be heard.

My second argument, is that not standing up during the
national anthem is a very ineffective way to promote a protest of injustice.
Kneeling during the national anthem catches the viewers’ attention, but can be
a major distraction. It can be a distraction to their teammates and can also
cause internal team controversy for those who don’t agree with the style of
protest. Not standing for the national anthem before the game, can get in the
way of the main message they are trying to protest, which is police brutality
and racial injustices. The national anthem stands for men and women who have
fought for our country. Once people see a player kneel, it is hard for them to
get past the perceived disrespect for the military personnel of the United
States and listen to the deeper concerns of the protest. Many fans get
distracted by the action the players are performing, not even realizing there
is a bigger cause behind the action. Not only does it distract the players and
the audience, but it takes away from the overall football game starting minutes
after the kneeling occurs. In addition, the protest draws attention away from
the actual reason people bought tickets, which was to view and enjoy the
football game between two opposing teams.

There are many objections that
you could use to rebuttal against the first argument. I think the best
objection is that if one believes the United States is not holding up the
foundations the country was established on, refusing to stand during the
playing of the national anthem is reasonable. The reason the protest was
executed by kneeling, was because Kaepernick felt that his country wasn’t
showing justice for all and was oppressing African Americans (para 3). He did
not want to show pride in a country and flag that undermined police brutality
and racial injustices, acting like these were not issues in the United States.
Many other players now kneel during the national anthem for this reason. The
players are not purposely trying to offend the military, police, or others who
find it disrespectful, they are trying to bring recognition to the
issues, so other people can be informed. Raising awareness of social injustice
is their main target, not dishonoring those who have risked their lives for America
(para 3).

Another major objection to the
first argument could be that kneeling during the national anthem is protected
by the First Amendment. The football players are exercising their constitutional
right to peacefully protest, bringing the issues of police brutality and racial
injustices to the public’s attention. Legally, there was nothing wrong with
Kaepernick’s form of protest. The players of the NFL have the right to speak
out and make a statement about something they believe is unfair. The First Amendment
states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or
of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition
the Government for a redress of grievances” (Staff, para 1). In addition, it is
an individual’s choice whether or not he or she wishes to participate in
standing for the national anthem. With the freedom of speech, comes the right to
express your opinion peacefully without diminution, and that’s exactly what the
NFL players are doing (“Freedom of Speech”).

The second argument emphasized that kneeling during the national anthem
is not an effective way to promote and protest the injustice occurring in the
United States. A possible response to this argument could be that kneeling is
an effective way to promote the issues because it easily grabs people’s eyes on
a platform that is viewed by millions of Americans. Kneeling is an unexpected
action taken by the NFL players and it shocks the audience which makes them pay
attention to the issues. This sparked other players to join Kaepernick in the
kneeling because they realized the public would react, good or bad. Also, it
created a conversation on social media and in the news. The protest spread like
wildfire, and people were widely talking about it. On social media, there were
those who took the NFL players’ side and others who did not agree with the form
of protest. By grabbing the fans’ attention, they are able to speak out and
voice their opinions on racial issues that needed to be displayed. Now that the
public is more aware of the police brutality and racial injustices, actions can
be taken to try to prevent those injustices from happening further.

The objection to the first argument was that refusing to stand during
the anthem was justified if you feel that your country is not holding up the
ideals it was founded on. The other objection to the first argument was that
the right to peacefully protest is protected by the First Amendment. A response
to these two objections could be that yes, NFL players are protected by the First
Amendment, but if they are going to protest it should be done respectfully. The
national anthem is repeatedly used to honor those who lost their lives or those
who were injured while fighting for the United States. It is not something that
should be belittled by a protest against totally separate prevailing issues.
You gain self-respect from protesting injustices done to you (para 1). Through
this form of protest, the NFL players are gaining self-respect, but are alienating
others such as select military personnel and viewers who don’t agree with
kneeling. The players are utilizing the First Amendment to proceed with their
protest, and therefore can’t fully state that the United States is not holding
up its ideals which is the reason why they kneel.

As for the second argument, the objection was that kneeling is an
effective way to protest because it makes others notice and is widely seen by
many. A response to this could be that kneeling does grab people’s attention,
but it takes away from the game NFL players are paid to play. Adding politics
to a professional sport, creates even more tension and possibly the loss of
fans. There are more effective ways to protest that are more serene and reduce
unintended consequences. The players could conduct a protest that can be heard
and seen outside of the football game, or even spread the issues another way
during the game. Several other ways the NFL players can speak out about the police brutality and racial injustice in the United States could be by wearing a piece of clothing, making a speech,
or dedicating a color to the cause. Another alternative could be the NFL
players kneeling before the national anthem playing begins and then standing
back up, which shows solidarity without being divisive. If they used one of the
other ways mentioned, people would not feel disrespected and attention would
still be drawn to the present issues.

The protest against police brutality
and racial injustices began by one NFL player kneeling during the
playing of the national anthem. This created tension between fans and the players.
Now, there are over 200 players kneeling for these issues and the number of
players participating in the protest is growing. There are some who think the
kneeling is justified and others who believe it is disrespecting our country
and those who fought for the United States. Police brutality and racial
injustice are major issues occurring throughout the country, and it is
important for others to speak out on the issues they believe are corrupt. Due
to the First Amendment, people have the right to freedom of speech with
includes peaceful protest, which is what the NFL players are executing. Although
protesting by kneeling during the national anthem is viewed by many as disrespectful
and can cause viewers to have negative thoughts towards the NFL, players are proceeding
with the protest. There is a significant reason behind the cause, but the form
of protest could be conducted in a more efficient and less controversial way.
The kneeling should not be allowed during the national anthem, so that there is
less tension and miscommunication between the public and players. The protest
should be executed in a different way in order to only draw full attention to
the issues at hand. 

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