By Connor Owen
Amidst the recent controversy of NFL players opting to ‘take a knee’ during the American national anthem, CULTIVATION UK examines the significance of this brave act of defiance.
Ever since quarterback Colin Kaepernick was documented sitting down for the national anthem at the third NFL preseason game of 2016, the form of protest has developed a strong contingent of followers – players and supporters alike.
When questioned as to why he sat for the pregame rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner, Kaepernick was quoted as saying;
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour”
The act of kneeling has since become a nation-wide campaign, and it has encouraged a plethora of sports stars – not only from the world of American football – to make political statements during the national anthem in reference to social injustices in America. These social injustices include police brutality and the rise of commonplace racism. Stephen Curry and Lebron James are among those sports stars who have protested.
Only a few days ago, President Trump publicly called for the NFL to institute a new rule that would see the act of kneeling during the national anthem as warranting a ban for the offending player.
Rather unsurprisingly, this comment has provoked controversy because of its antagonistic and seemingly uncaring approach towards the struggles of the black community in the US.
When accompanied with the notoriety that is held to Trump’s name surrounding concerns of race and equality, Trump has become the face of opposition to the protests. However, this happens to be a topic that holds controversy on both sides because for all the opposition that Trump and his followers receive, the option to ‘take a knee’ has similarly been criticised. It is has been voiced on social media how kneeling during the anthem has “ruined the greatest sport in the world” because it detracts fans from the game itself.
The common criticism is that sports and politics should be kept separate, and that sportsmen and women should thus withhold their political agenda from the public eye. One former sports star who is no stranger to receiving a torrent of abuse and contempt from voicing his political opinions is Gary Lineker. Tweeted on the 26th September 2017, Lineker joined the ‘take a knee’ debate by sarcastically writing;
This was then followed by further subtle support for the protest movement;
Whatever your stance regarding this current scenario, the exercising of free-will and demonstration of personal opinion should be applauded and taken with respect.