There is a old concept that athletes should only stick to sports when they have the spotlight. This concept was never true, and it is not relevant in today’s times.
Athletes have always used their platform to shed light on current events that are going on in the country and around the world, creating awareness and sparking conversations on touchy and personal ideas or beliefs: like Muhammad Ali protesting against the Vietnam War to Colin Kapernick kneeling during the National Anthem.
Today, athletes are using their platform to kneel during the National Anthem. Kneeling was first introduced to mainstream media last year when former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee.
This was a comprise to originally taking a seat on the bench. He instead took a knee with some persuasion of his team that served in the military. Kapernick kneeling is against the oppression of African-Americans and black people living in the United States and systematic racism that has a stronghold on America. Kneeling during the anthem is not to disrespect the men and women that served, died or currently serving in the Armed Forces.
On Sept. 22, our current president specifically called out and requested that NFL owners should fire or suspend players that kneel during the National Anthem. In addition, he called those who kneeled “son of bitches.”
This created an outburst from the athletic community, especially the NFL players.
Over the past two Sundays, multiple teams had players kneel, link arms from players to coaches or many stood up for the anthem with their fist up in the air proudly. Specifically, the Pittsburgh Steelers stayed inside of tunnel when the anthem was being sung.
This movement reached more than football players, stretching out to the WNBA team Los Angeles Sparks as they went into the locker room during the anthem to show support of fellow athletes during the WNBA Finals. Bruce Maxwell, a professional baseball player from the Oakland Athletics, was the first player in Major League Baseball to take a knee.
Due to the president’s comments, there are numerous collegiate and professionals team that are not going to visit the White House. Sports Illustrated has a cover of many athletes linking arms with the caption “A Nation Divided, Sports United.”
If someone disrespects or belittles a sport league or organization, it will come back with more support in ways we couldn’t even imagine.