Standing Up by Sitting Down

Alex Botello, Reporter

Originally published on Oct. 5th, 2017.

The debate over players taking a knee during the National anthem had been silent for the past few months until President Donald Trump commented on the players’ actions.

It’s been over a year since San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, knelt during the National anthem.  This action was met with criticism and hatred. To this day Kaepernick’s career has not been the same; as of Friday, Oct. 13th, he filed a motion that the NFL has been colluding to keep him out of the job.

During this time, police violence and brutality was an issue, not only in the black community but all across the United States. Kaepernick knelt because he did not want to stand for a flag that “oppresses black people and people of color.”

image via nbcnews

Although his motives were never to disrespect the flag or veterans, this became the interpretation.

Despite the hatred Kaepernick received, he continued to kneel. Only after other players knelt earlier this season did the protest pick up momentum.  Kaepernick’s message of equality began to reach other players in the league. The Seattle Seahawks locked arms during the national anthem, members of the Miami Dolphins took a knee, and other players raised a fist in the air during the anthem.

Each team took a different approach to protest, but it all started with one player that wanted to use the NFL as a platform to convey a message.

As the season came to a close, the media shifted their focus away from players. Protests continued but the noise was slowly dying down.

That is until President Trump commented on protesters by stating, he’d love to see NFL owners “take that son of a bitch off the field,” essentially asking owners to fire players who protest.


The purpose of the protests was to shed light on social injustice and bring the country closer to equality. The statements made by the President demonstrated how far we are from being equal.

Saying owners should fire players expressing their first amendment right, is exactly what these protests are for: to rid the country of oppression regardless of race, gender, religion or social status.

After these comments, NFL teams started to protest again. The Pittsburgh Steelers stayed in the locker room while the anthem played; the Denver Broncos took a collective knee; other players wore “We stand with Kap” tee shirts to show support of Kaepernick.

NFL owners Shad Khan and Dan Snyder linked arms with their players in protest of Trump’s remarks.  For the first time in a long time, the entire league was unified. 

To see an entire league kneel together against something greater than football is amazing but despite the unity can the reaction be called hypocritical? Has the meaning of taking a knee changed?

When Kaepernick knelt during the anthem, colleagues and other individuals, such as team owners, said they would never take a knee or sign Kaepernick because of the negative impact he would bring to the team. Now those same owners and colleagues are taking a knee with pride. Was this an act against the social injustice in America or an act to ensure billionaires stay billionaires?

Throughout Trump’s presidential campaign and presidency, Trump made comments offending anyone who wasn’t a rich white guy in America. Despite all of this, NFL owners Shahid Khan, Dan Snyder, Jerry Jones, Robert Kraft and Robert McNair donated large amounts of money to Trump’s inauguration. As beautiful as the NFL unity was, the significance and meaning of taking a knee has been lost.

Taking a knee was meant to bring the issue of social injustices being endured by minorities to light. Now it has become nothing more than a publicity stunt to combat President Trump. The players and owners are not kneeling for equality, they are kneeling against the President; they are kneeling or linking arms to ensure their bank accounts stay the same.

This action, to some, was a step in the right direction, not only for the NFL, but for America. It’s tragic that every other hateful comment made by Trump did not register in NFL owners’ minds, but it would appear the bells have been rung.

One-day others might see this as an act of peaceful protest and not an act of disrespect. However, the impact this act has had on the nation can be easily noted.

image via CNN

It will be interesting to see how teams handle their protests the rest of the season, and if they will continue to protest. Perhaps one day taking a knee will again represent the fight for social injustice.