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The National Anthem began to play. It was over 13 years ago at a New York Yankees baseball game and I was chowing down on my ice cream. My grandpa looked over at me, snapped his fingers and motioned to stand and put my hand on my heart. I didn’t fully understand why at the time, but till this day I can never forget. Now I know why.
There was a time when we had much more respect for ourselves. A time when we set an example and raised the bar for others. A time when we acted in a manner which required serious thought before our actions. A time when our great grandparents and generations before us set the bar so high that we couldn’t fathom reaching that level of dignity, respect, and greatness. That time seems to have been lost and forgotten. Everything now is a cry for attention, an urge to stand out and be “different”, even just for the sake of being different.
I can recall several notable instances of this within the past few years. Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, refused to stand during the National Anthem because of his views on the country’s treatment of racial minorities. Just recently in the news we had co-captain Megan Rapinoe of the U.S women’s national soccer team, refuse to participate in the National Anthem as well. The 33-year-old midfielder stood silently with her arms by her sides as teammates sang the Star-Spangled Banner with their hands proudly over their hearts, regardless of their viewpoints and thoughts on our country. Both of these athletes can represent and participate in sports because of what their country gave them—not only an opportunity to make an immense amount of money, to fulfill their passions and dreams, but most importantly to set an example.
Why did they protest in this way? What were they trying to achieve? It is important to remember that every action is done for a purpose, an end. It seems that, in this circumstance, Kaepernick and Rapinoe wanted to show that they “would not stand idly by while there are people in this country who have to deal with these heartaches” and that they disagreed with our country and its practices. They did this by kneeling during the anthem.
I agree that our country has many issues. What country doesn’t? I also agree that the specific issues that these athletes bring up are a problem in our country to a certain degree. (Look at our political debates, for goodness sake. What a train wreck!)
But here is where I disagree…
In both instances, the means to their end was inappropriate i.e. refusing to participate in the national anthem in order to protest racial inequality. I would argue that it takes more guts to stand for your flag and your country when it is going through tough times than to kneel like they did. Here are a few reasons for why I firmly believe that kneeling for the anthem is wrong, not based on the value of the protesters’ opinions but based on the way they chose to protest.
1. Refusing to stand for the national anthem shows disrespect for the flag and the members of the military who have fought for us and our freedom. You want us to respect your opinions and views, yet the way that you are expressing this is with a disrespectful action. How can you expect people to respect you when what you are doing is essentially disrespectful?
2. Kneeling for the anthem is ineffective and bears no substance, because it’s not done at the right time or place. Stand for your beliefs, but there’s truth in the addage, “There is a time and place for everything.” If you so strongly believe in something, take a stance during the off-season and start a campaign. Just because it is convenient to take a knee while millions are watching and media coverage is guaranteed, does not mean it is the right thing to do. Let sports be sports again; stop being attention seekers.
3. Talk about awkward for your team, who now are assumed to share your personal views. You are representing your team and your whole country at World Finals and kneeling during the country's anthem does not being anyone closer together but rather causes division within the team and more importantly within our country.
4. It is setting a horrible example for our future generation. It’s scary to think that children around the country are being shown that we do not need to respect our flag, our country or what this country has brought us. When I was a kid, you stood proudly with perfect posture during the National Anthem, hand over your heart (thanks, Grandpa). This is less common now.
At the end of the day, I truly believe that this way of protesting is wrong. When it comes to achieving an end, the way you go about it must be thought out and not purely emotional. If the means aren’t appropriate, the end won’t work.
The next time you hear the Anthem, stand strong with your hand on your heart, regardless of what your opinion of our country is and pray that we become better as a team.
“The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.” (Alexis de Tocqueville)
What do you think? Comment below.