By Madison Ames
Colin Kaepernick, quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, took a knee instead of standing for the national anthem. According to the National Football League, Kaepernick said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
Following Kaepernick’s protest, other athletes are also refusing to stand. Air Academy Federal Credit Union revoked its sponsorship after
Denver Broncos player Brandon Marshall refused to stand for the national anthem on Sept. 8, 2016. The Washington Spirit women’s soccer team played the national anthem before the teams took the field to prevent Megan Rapinoe from protesting.
Kaepernick and others following his example have been criticized because people see refusing to stand for the nation anthem as “unpatriotic, disrespectful and they disagree with what the athletes are protesting.”
By not standing, they have been accused of not caring about the lives of soldiers that protect of freedom or having pride in the country itself. Instead of focusing on what they did, we should be focusing on why they did it. The question we should be asking ourselves is why should one blindly support something that does not value every person equally. Every athlete should be able to stand up — or refuse to stand up — for any set of ideals that he or she sees fit.
We should all be looking for ways to make society better and we have the ability to express that. Kaepernick shouldn’t be denied the right to exercise expression of free speech because of his profession. He should be able to speak out against injustice just like any of us should.
Athletes hold more power as public figures than one may realize. There’s something special in watching a little kid put on the jersey of his or her favorite athlete or seeing children excel in sports to be just like their heroes. How athletes act on the field, say in interviews and post on social media should show their fans the appropriate way to express their beliefs. By refusing to stand for the national anthem, he used his public figure status to express something he believes in: the right to freedom of expression. He was able to show all of his fans that he demands a change in society. More people, both public figures and those who make up the public, should support him in his quest to change society and find a way to make our flag truly stand for freedom for everyone.