Samuel New York

Stand Up

Citizens should solve their problem in a well thought out approach instead of disrespecting our national anthem.

Dear Future President,

As you know, NFL player, Colin Kaepernick, has refused to stand during the national anthem. He is protesting racial oppression, and this has caused quite the controversy around the country. Kneeling during the national anthem disrespects our country’s flag. If people have a problem with social injustice, then fight for reform. It bothers me that athletes who get paid millions of dollars to throw a ball are disrespecting those who give their lives for this country.

The national anthem is a symbol of our freedom and is the cornerstone of our democracy, and when professional athletes refuse to show respect, it is disrespectful and rude. Since 1892, school children have stood to salute the flag every day. This demonstrates the sacred importance we place on respecting our country. And in professional sports, the anthem has been played since the beginning of World War I. It is a time to pause and give thanks for our freedoms and heritage. I am an athlete and proudly stand for the anthem before each game I play. Each time, I am reminded that those before me sacrificed their lives to secure my safety.

Kaepernick has a right to protest and make a political statement, but while functioning as an NFL player is not the time to do so. He has been fortunate enough to be on the worldwide stage as a professional athlete and he should not exploit this opportunity to promote his personal agenda. His success actually negates his cause. He feels that black men are held down by racial oppression, but his $114 million NFL contract proves black men have extraordinary opportunities in this country. Other athletes have felt they need to protest, but have done so without insulting others. For example, last year LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Kobe Bryant wore “I can’t breathe” t-shirts protesting police brutality. While they also exploited their sports to promote their own agendas, at least it was done in respectful manner. There is a time and a place for everything, and an NFL game (which is intended solely to entertain) is not the time or the place.

While many have supported Kaepernick’s cause and even joined him kneeling during our country’s anthem, other well-respected people have criticized his actions. According to Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “it’s dumb and disrespectful” and question’s Kaepernick’s reasoning behind mixing his professional life with his personal activism. Ginsburg sits on the highest court in the land, and her disapproval shows that Kaepernick’s protest was simple-minded and rude. Also, the New Orleans Saints quarterback, Drew Brees, also weighed in on the controversy calling it “an oxymoron”. He says that Kaepernick is protesting the the very thing that gave him the right to speak up in the first place.

Despite the fact that President Obama said that Kaepernick is exercising his constitutional rights, I think you -- as our new leader -- should discuss those who have felt disrespected and unappreciated by his protests, namely our veterans and soldiers serving to protect the very right he is utilizing. You should urge those who have the money and resources to donate their time and efforts to making real change via creating events to spread awareness in areas affected by this, or even advertising the importance of this touchy subject and steps that should be taken to respectfully eliminate this national issue. In the meantime, every single time the national anthem is played, all people should stand in respect for those who are fighting for freedom -- so themselves need not.