Protesting the National Anthem
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Sports and Health

Protesting the National Anthem

NFL rules against taking a knee

WHAT IT IS

  • The National Football League (NFL) announced in May 2018 that all NFL players and staff "shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem" if they're on the field.1

  • The policy is a response to players taking a knee during the national anthem.

MORE ON THE RULE2

Players are not required to be on the field

during the national anthem.

A team will be fined if its players are on the field and do not stand and "show respect for the flag and the anthem."2

Players can stay in the locker room,

or elsewhere that is off the field.

The NFL commissioner "will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect."2

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Eric Reid (35) and Colin Kaepernick (7) kneeling during the national anthem.

  • Taking a knee started in August 2016 by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and safety Eric Reed.5

  • President Trump has tweeted against the protests, and praised the NFL's decision.6

  • President Trump suggested that protesting the national anthem should be a reason to fire someone from a professional team, or even be removed from the country.7

"Well, I think that's good. I don't think people should be staying in locker rooms, but still, I think it's good.

 

You have to stand, proudly, for the national anthem or you shouldn't be playing, you shouldn't be there, maybe you shouldn't be in the country."

-President Donald Trump, in an interview with Fox News.22

WHY IT MATTERS

 

The right to protest or form a peaceful assembly is "at the core of the First Amendment."8 This peaceful form of protest has many questioning if it crosses a line or not.

KEEP PROTESTING

The reason

The leader of the protest, Kaepernick, originally stated his reason for kneeling during the national anthem was to support the #blacklivesmatter movement and call attention to police brutality and racial injustice.9

 

Read "In their own words" for more reasons why players are protesting. 

 

 

Free speech

Protesting is a form of free speech and is constitutionally protected under the First Amendment.21 Some view this policy as restricting free speech protected under the constitution.10

 

 

Public support

According to a 2017 PBS poll, about 48% of Americans believed the protests were "a respectful way to draw attention to their concerns."20

ANTI-AMERICAN

Respect

Those against the protest believe not standing is a sign of disrespect to the country, especially to those that have died to protect freedom.19 

 

 

Losing Fans

According to owners of NFL teams, large numbers of fans and sponsors are angry about the protests by players. This has caused boycotts, burning of jerseys, and a decline in TV ratings.12 

 

According to a 2017 PBS poll, about 46% of Americans believed the protests are "disrespectful."20

 

 

In the contract

A standard NFL player's contract contains language that allows the team to terminate players based on "personal conduct"and "public respect" for the game.13

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color...

 

To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

-Colin Kaepernick, former 49ners quarterback

WHERE WE ARE NOW

  • To support their players, some NFL owners and coaches have told their players they will personally pay for fines.3 4
  • Since starting the protest, Kaepernick and Reed are unsigned (unemployed) from the NFL, despite an impressive and talented career thus far.14
  • Kaepernick was Time Person Of The Year 2017 runner-up.15
  • Vice President Mike Pence left an NFL game of his home team after players kneeled during the anthem.18

 

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

  • Read more about President Trump uninviting the Super Bowl Champions, Philadelphia Eagles, from attending the White House.23
  • NFL coaches responses appeared to be divided geographically.17
  • Read and know your rights as a citizen at a protest.
  • Should the president be vocal about private organizations or institutions?

“Protest isn’t supposed to be comfortable. It’s not supposed to happen in the shadows. It’s supposed to disrupt.

 

Patriotism is demanding America uphold the ideals it was founded on: equality and justice for all. Patriotism is pledging allegiance to democratic values, not to symbols or songs. Patriotism is dissent.”

-Jeff Robinson, American Civil Liberties Union's legal director.16

Key Vocabulary