Students Discuss Anthem Protests

What began as one NFL quarterback kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality has led to hundreds of players, coaches and front office staff protesting President Trump in a turn of events that has divided the nation.


The 49ers’ Eric Reid and Colin Kaepernick during the national anthem prior to the game against the Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on Sept. 1, 2016, in San Diego, California. Photo: Getty Images

As most of the country knows, NFL teams and players are kneeling during the national anthem and protesting against President Trump. This all began when Colin Kaepernick wanted President Trump and the United States to deal more directly about race and justice.

Tweet3Trump was unhappy with the players protesting, and he suggested that owners fire the players and to “get those sons of b*****s off the field right now. Out, you’re fired!”

Some people saw Trump’s comments as racist. Former and retired San Francisco 49er London Fletcher said, “there is a racial undertone to his comments, and the way I heard it is, ‘You black SOB get off the field.’”

There are plenty of opinions on the matter among Northwood School students. John Hepworth ‘19 had this to say:

“In regards to the NFL protesting, the trend all started with Colin Kaepernick last year, who was the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. He started kneeling for the anthem and got a lot of backlash and therefore remains an unsigned free-agent. A lot of people presume it all connects to politics and believe some rights are unfair. Now, other players are starting to do it and some teams are not even coming out of the locker room for the anthem.”

Hepworth strongly believes that many pro athletes don’t support Trump. Not just NFL players, but also NBA all-star Stephen Curry who engaged in a high-profile feud with Trump on Twitter. “There’s a lot of tension and miscommunication between the sports and political world right now,” observed Hepworth.

Patrick Callahan ‘18 shared his opinion:

“It’s peaceful protesting, I don’t see anything wrong there. But, I do see how one would find it disrespectful. The national anthem is a time when we’re supposed to honor our country and honor the flag. But I don’t believe that the intention is to be disrespectful towards our country or our flag. Many people have come forward to claim that they love this country and support our military, and that’s not what the protesting is about. It started by protesting police brutality last year, and I think that this new eruption of protest is more in response to Donald Trump’s recent comments.”


Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle and former Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva standing for the anthem Sunday. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Callahan reflected on an NFL player who chose not to protest when the rest of his team did:

“That player (Alejandro Villanueva) on the Steelers served in the military and wanted to stand for the national anthem, and I completely understand that, and I completely agree with that. I don’t have a say over who does or doesn’t stand for the anthem.”

Tommy Bannister ‘20 isn’t sympathetic to the players who protested:

“I think that the players shouldn’t kneel because in a way I think it’s disrespecting our country, and I think they should stand to show respect to the soldiers who are fighting for our freedom. Our freedom isn’t really ‘free’ and soldiers have to pay the price. The players need to put their pride to the side while the anthem is playing. I can see the players’ point of view, but our country is bigger than one athlete or one team.”

Tommy had mixed feelings about President Trump:

“I think he’s doing a lot of good things in the White House, but some of the ways he goes about it is probably not the right way to do it, but he just speaks how he thinks, and sometimes that’s not the best way. Him telling all the fans that they should [boycott the NFL] is probably not the best thing to say because the fans just want to watch football on Sunday and no one really cares about politics.”


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