The Kneel Down – Ricky Oaks

September, what a time to be alive, especially for sports fans. We have playoffs coming up in baseball, and the start of football seasons from pop warner to the professional level. And each what unifies all levels of football are the words, “Please rise and remove your caps for the playing of the national anthem.” And sure enough, for almost the past 50 years, everyone at every NFL game has stood to commemorate the stars and stripes, every year until this year.
In a week 3 preseason game against the Packers, former San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick shocked us all by sitting on the bench during the national anthem at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. He later released a statement saying, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” All this following a series of events that impact us on a daily basis around the country. Every day, it seems one of our family members turns it on ABC 30 and the first thing that comes on Good Morning America is a story on how a community is rioting on how an unarmed african-american teenager is shot by police.
Immediate outrage came towards Kaepernick, from hate mail, threats, and of course, the burning of his jersey as a sign of betrayal which is most common associated when a player switches teams. Even in today’s society we often grow into outrage (mainly on social media), we oppress over instances of both large and small proportions. Starting from elementary school, we have all been taught to always stand up for the pledge of allegiance, and for those who do sports, even at games or events, we nonchalantly stand and put our hands over our hearts. Even in high school, we often don’t listen to the announcements, yet when we hear the pledge of allegiance, we feel obligated to immediately stand up and say the pledge. For this reason, Kaepernick is doing something that seems so out of the ordinary that some people feel like this type of behavior is unorthodox.
Even through the harsh criticism, Colin Kaepernick continued his statement the final preseason game, when not only himself, but also teammate Eric Reid took their stance. But rather than sitting down, they took a knee. In the weeks that followed, other NFL players from around the league started the trend such as the Seahawks Jeremy Lane and Denver’s own Brandon Marshall took the knee. Even outside of the NFL, USWNT soccer star Megan Rapinoe took a knee during a professional soccer match. Even our president acknowledged Kaepernick saying that Kaepernick is, “exercising his constitutional right.”
Some people at first thought think of this as a publicity stunt to draw away from the fact that Kaepernick is a second string quarterback, but he is stating a case here. And not only that, with the skyrocket of his jersey sales, he has used his sales and has contributed to the cause and has donated money towards a number of charities. And it isn’t just him in the 49ers organization. 49ers CEO Ted York contributed $1 million himself towards charities as well, one being Camp Taylor, a charity that offers several programs for young people and families of children with heart disease.
And with the season just starting, it brought up a serious question on whether or not to kneel. For those who don’t know, the NFL kickoff started on Sunday, September 11, which was the 15th anniversary of the terrorists attacks in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania. A day in which is represented as a day all Americans stand united as one, showing pride and patriotism. But yet, there are players and coaches on both sides who are debating if taking a knee is really a way of showing we were united as one. And this Saturday, teams were hand and hand, or interlocking arms and raising their fists, as others like three Miami players took the knee during the national anthem.
Now how does this topic affect our school you might ask? I asked three of Kerman’s very own football players on the subject. First, freshman Tyler Wright Celaya said,”If I was the coach, I would’ve cut him from the team.” Then Thomas Camargo stated,“I agree with what he is standing for, but disagree with how he is showing it.” Finally, Ryan Troutman stated in his case, “I would just bench him.”
How long this will last, it is an unclear statement right now. Kaepernick said he isn’t going to rise until he sees a change. The only problem with his statement is that even after the Civil Rights movement, the violence between police brutality and african-americans has lasted for nearly forty-seven years. Even Chicago shooting guard and native Dwyane Wade said at the ESPYS repeatedly, ”It has to stop.” And this statement is one of the biggest threats to our society. So when we stand up for the pledge of allegiance during second period, or at the start of America’s pastime, let us also know of what each message is about. What stance you are on, is up to you, either stand up and praise your country, or kneel down and make a stand up for what isn’t right.

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