NFL protests cause dividing views at Mason

NFL players kneel and stand on the sidelines.

Keith Allison

Washington Redskins' players kneel for the national anthem while linking arms with their standing teammates. This form of controversial protest in the NFL has been a popular conversation topic over the past month. (Photo Courtesy of Merson Common User)

Jay Nesson, Staff Reporter

Over the past month, National Football League (NFL) players from all different teams across the nation have been kneeling during the National Anthem before their games to protest the police brutality aimed towards the African American Community in the United States.

Former San Francisco 49ers’ starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick started this movement by kneeling during the national anthem before the a game against the Green Bay Packers on August 26th 2016.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” said Kaepernick to the NFL media after the defeat to Green Bay.

A year later, as these protests continue to grow in the NFL, it has led to divided views among sports fans here at Mason.

“It’s a good thing to do, I think it has the right meaning behind it,” junior basketball player and NFL fan Hollman Smith said. “The players say it’s not about the flag, it’s not about the soldiers. It’s about police brutality and inequality between the races, so I do understand why people think it’s rude to the country, but that’s not the intention.

“I feel players sitting during the National Anthem is very disrespectful,” junior baseball player Brian Murphy said. “The National Anthem is a symbol of our country and they’re not showing respect to it. It’s also for military people who risk their lives for this country [so] people have no business disrespecting what they do.” said junior Brian Murphy.

“Kneeling during the Anthem shows no disrespect towards veterans or toward the flag. I think they’re just protesting the president because of what he said about them” said junior Brendan Fletchall.

“NFL players have every right to kneel,” junior Raquel Dod said. “People who claim they’re disrespecting the flag because there are people that fight and die for it are misinformed. The flag is the symbol of the state, which includes forces like the police who have been notorious for the maltreatment of minorities. Also this country was based off of democratic principles that stated that individuals are more important than the state and have every right and obligation to express dissatisfaction against it.” 

On September 24th, President Trump reacted to the protesting by tweeting “Great solidarity for our National Anthem and for our Country. Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable. Bad ratings!”.

This movement is not only affecting the professional football world, but also high school football on a smaller level.

A private high school near Houston, Texas, threw two players off their football team for to taking a knee and raising a fist during the National Anthem before one of their games.  According to the CNN article published earlier this month, the mother of one of the kids says she supports the players’ actions and considered the former marine and head coach’s punishment to be excessive.

There’s no consensus among Mason students on the subject of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem, but there’s no doubt that these protests have got people talking. Whether or not these protests or opposing views will have an impact on later rules or societal changes is still unknown.