America is at the top echelon in world sports. Just last month, the world witnessed the U.S. come out on top at the Rio Olympics, with the highest medal and gold medal counts. The professional athletes who play in leagues within the U.S. are highly blessed with the opportunities that the country provides.
Recently, however, several athletes have publicly expressed their protest on the playing field. Most notably, Colin Kaepernick, NFL quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, has made his”protest” during the singing of the National Anthem. Kaepernick, who at first sat throughout the playing of the National Anthem, is now kneeling during the playing of the song. Kaepernick was heavily criticized for these actions, but despite this, Kaepernick has stated he would continue his protest until “oppression towards black people and people of color” stops.
Several NFL players, including Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, and Kaepernick’s teammate, Eric Reid, have joined Kaepernick in protest. Other athletes, including U.S. women’s soccer player, Megan Rapinoe, have also protested during the national anthem.
These athletes received a lot of criticism for their protests. Many felt that while Kaepernick’s reasons behind the protest were valid, he could have found other, more respectful ways to protest. Kaepernick’s fame and fortune are the fruits of the opportunities that America has given him. Many felt that Kaepernick shouldn’t be disrespecting the very country that gave him these opportunities.
The thing is, we, and the athletes who are protesting, live in America, where no matter how ridiculous or heinous a protest is, people have the right to protest. The right to protest is based on the constitutional right of free speech. While the exercise of free speech may come with negative consequences, there can be no denying that people have the constitutional right to express themselves.
While I am not a proponent of athletes sitting or kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem, I do recognize their right to protest. I suggest that these athletes express their views on social media, start a fund or campaign, or join a social cause. Personally, I will do what I believe every American SHOULD do during the National Anthem. I will stand tall and sing out loud in celebration of this great country.