To Kneel or Not to Kneel: That is the Question

Colin Kaepernick kneels during the national anthem.

Ethan Bachand ‘18
EE Co-Managing Editor

What started with one man on a fateful night in August has transformed into something no one could have ever anticipated. It was on August 14th, when Colin Kaepernick, former quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers,  took a seat on the bench during the national anthem. He did so to protest police brutality and promote racial equality.

What started with one man on a fateful night in August has transformed into something no one could have ever anticipated. It was on August 14th, when Colin Kaepernick, former quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers,  took a seat on the bench during the national anthem. He did so to protest police brutality and promote racial equality. At first, no one noticed- not until three games into the preseason- when a single photo would spark one of the major story lines of the 2016 season.  Fast forward 13 months later, and there is some sort of demonstration that is conducted by a player on each and every NFL team. So how did we get here?

In the origins of Colin Kaepernick’s protest, only a few players followed suit. Every time a player would take a knee or perform some resemblance of protest during the national anthem, their name would appear in the headlines the next day. People were divided on the issue, yet it never dominated the actual game. Until this month, when the issue took on a whole new level.
With more people taking up some form of protest during the pre-game national anthems than the last season, President Donald Trump made comments at a campaign rally in Alabama, on top of multiple tweets, regarding such demonstrations. In his speech, he suggested that NFL owners should take immediate action agaisnt players that protest during the national anthem, kneeling or otherwise, by firing them.

The message immediately sent shock waves throughout the NFL. It was no longer just about racial inequality, it was now about unity. As a whole league, players came to support their peers. Whether it be joining in arms with their teammates or joining them in a kneel, football players rallied around each other.

More than ever, players have begun demonstrating during the national anthem, and it has caused considerable backlash. DirecTV even offers a refund on their Season Ticket package, which gives viewers the ability to see every game from around the league, in response to the negative reaction by some NFL fans.

This will without a doubt continue to be a pressing issue that surrounds the NFL for the remainder of the year. No matter where you stand on the issue, the one thing remains clear: one man has changed the course of NFL history, just by taking a knee.

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