The players that started the protest during the national anthem were doing so in order to start a conversation. While almost everybody is talking about it now, an unfortunately large percentage of those conversations are not about the issues that they're actually protesting. A lot of people are upset about players disrespecting the flag and disrespecting the military. If you listen to any of these players, they will almost unanimously talk about how they support the military and are not trying to disrespect them or the flag. These players are trying to move our great country forward to fight for racial equality and social justice. This deserves more than a dismissal because of “disrespect to the flag/military”.
So why are they protesting during the national anthem?
The question of why this protest is happening during the national anthem brings me to another question. When/how would you prefer them to protest? I've heard suggestions that they should hold a press conference to talk about these issues. If they did that, how many people would it reach? I love sports, and I rarely listen to postgame interviews. Do you really think change would come out of that? This has become a conversation for people who never even watch sports, in large part because of when the protests occur. Again, a lot of those people might not be aware of what these protests are actually about. But that's where we can come in.
Protests are usually uncomfortable conversations for somebody, because it is asking for change. Changes like these don't happen overnight so we shouldn't be shocked that this has received some backlash. But I am surprised the extent to the backlash. The fact that the president of our country is more upset about black men protesting against racism and social injustice in an extremely peaceful way than he was about a group of people that wear their racism as a badge of honor proves the point of these protests.
To a few arguments against these protests
- "If you don't like the country, you should leave."
- This has to be one of the most un-American sentences I've ever heard. Can you imagine if some of our founding fathers or Martin Luther King Jr. had that attitude? Just because we don't think this country is perfect doesn't mean we don't appreciate it.
- I'm sorry that this is an inconvenience for you during the 2 minutes that the anthem plays, but have you considered that this isn't a political issue? Racism and social injustice are real issues that minorities in this country deal with on an every-day basis.
- To say that athletes should stick to sports would mean that JJ Watt should give back the $30 Million that he raised for Hurricane Harvey relief and that LeBron James should take back all of those educations that he has paid for to improve the lives of kids and their parents in the inner cities. You can't have it both ways—you can't applaud players for doing good things in the community and then chastise them for speaking their minds when their opinions differ from yours. The fact that some people expect these players to go out and perform and entertain us and then immediately have no more existence outside of that is absurd.
- A lot of these players, in the NFL and NBA, are very involved in their community and trying to do things to improve it. Please take the time to look into how much some of these men have done for their communities.
If you don’t think black people are facing injustice in this country
Have you asked? Try starting a conversation, make some new friends, see what they have experienced, are dealing with and are worried about before you make up your mind. If you have never read Martin Luther King Jr.'s letter from a Birmingham jail, I would highly recommend it. He does a tremendous job of thoughtfully expressing his side of the events.