Controversy surrounds NFL players kneeling

Reporter urges readers to look past the noise at the real issues.

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Jacob Wyatt, Sport staff

NFL players have recently been protesting by sitting or kneeling during
“The Star-Spangled Banner” and tensions have been rising between players, fans and even the Donald Trump. This has now brought on the debate of, should NFL players be allowed to sit and kneel or stand? I believe that NFL players should have freedom to do what they want as long as it is appropriate.

People have blown the protests out of proportion with claims of disrespect. These protests were never meant to be about hating the United States. These are peaceful protests to bring to light the injustice African-Americans are exposed to on a daily basis.

When Colin Kaepernick started to kneel in August 2016, he was silent in his protests. Even when people began to lash out at him, he stayed humble and did not fire back. 

In an interview with the NFL media about the protests, Kaepernick said that the issue went beyond the field. “This is bigger than football,” Kaepernick said. He is trying to show these protests are not about his career or the sport of football; he only used football to get his message on a national stage.

I understand how people could think this is disrespectful. Kaepernick is being unpatriotic about the flag and is not showing patriotism one of the foundations of the United States. However, he is exercising  his First Amendment right of freedom to protest, something he is guaranteed as a citizen in the United States.

The right to protest is something everyone in this country should be able to relate to. That is all Kaepernick is using– his right to speak how he feels about the state of this country. In a country where it is okay to be in hate groups such as Neo-Nazis and  KKK  is it really that bad for a group of people to peacefully protest for what they believe in?

People need to realize Kaepernick did not start this protest as a way to get attention; he wants to bring attention towards all of the racially-charged shootings and racism in general that have been in happening alot recently in the United States. His protests have affected his life in more negative ways than positive; he was released from the 49ers, has reported receiving death threats and has had a lot of uncalled-for backlash against him.

This situation is beyond football. The players are attempting to bring awareness to current-day topics that affect all of us as a country. Being able to have these difficult conversations in a way that allows people to express themselves is an important component of being an American. So why not let these players do what they believe in? Being able to speak up for what you feel is right and speak against what you feel is wrong it is part of being in this great nation.