Stand or Kneel for Colin Kaepernick’s Protest?

This is FREE sample
This text is free, available online and used for guidance and inspiration. Need a 100% unique paper? Order a custom essay.
  • Any subject
  • Within the deadline
  • Without paying in advance
Get custom essay

Simply turning on the television on a normal Sunday afternoon, during football season, has changed in recent years. People across the United States are tuning into the game before it even starts. They want to see the actions of individual players or whole teams themselves during the playing of the National Anthem. A whole sideshow has developed around the already very popular NFL games and it all started when one player decided to sit during the National Anthem. San Francisco 49er’s quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, decided that he was going to protest social inequality and police brutality by sitting during the playing the National Anthem each game.

Kaepernick, an African-American from Wisconsin, would quickly go to kneeling to show more respect and power behind the protest (Mindock). This simple action, which caught on with other NFL players and teams, started a very large controversy. Many fans supported Kaepernick but many found his actions disrespectful to the National Anthem and the U.S. flag. Colin Kaepernick, along with other NFL players have the right to protest whether the public agrees or not and should not be punished for their actions. This protest is being looked at in the wrong way; too much time is being wasted away on debating if Kaepernick’s protest sits well with everyone in the country. Not only is Kaepernick’s protest acceptable, it should not be dividing the United States, rather it should bringing people together to solve the real problems of social inequality and police brutality.

To start, Colin Kaepernick has the right to protest as he pleases. When Kaepernick first starting protesting in the beginning of the 2016-2017 NFL season, there were no rules or regulations that the NFL endorsed on what a player can or cannot do during the playing of the National Anthem. Therefore, he was not breaking any rules that the NFL had and was not breaking any government laws enforced in the United States. Kaepernick was simply expressing his rights as an American citizen, specifically the right to freedom of speech.

The very first Amendment in the U. S. Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances (U.M.).” Unfortunately, the NFL would quickly make rules that players must follow during the playing of the National Anthem. Players are either to remain in the locker room during the playing of the National Anthem or must stand while it is being performed. If any player does not follow these regulations, they may receive a fine or suspension from the NFL and further punishment within the organization that one is a part of. Is this the right thing to do though?

It has been proven that Kaepernick’s protest is ethically correct when evaluated by the nine principles of normative ethics. Normative ethics is the study of ethical actions; ethics being the moral principles that decide what a person does or does not do. The specific principles used in this case are benevolence, honesty, autonomy, justice, paternalism, no harm, social benefit, rights, and lawfulness. To understand what these principles are, an example should be used. One would be murder; most people agree that this is wrong, but why is this wrong. Many people may have different reasoning, but the fundamental principles of normative ethics tells us why it is wrong in multiple aspects. In the case of Kaepernick’s protest, the answer is not as clear as the example just given.

When his protest is evaluated by these principles, it is shown to be the following: Benevolent; he donates his time and money to help the oppressed, and has donated close to one million dollars. Honest; he is found to be a truthful person and is truly protesting to help fix the problems of social inequality and police brutality. Autonomic; found freedom in that there were no rules or regulations telling him what to do during the National Anthem and took advantage of this. Legal; there are no federal laws nor NFL rules, at the time he was doing it, stating that Kaepernick cannot kneel during the Anthem. Paternalistic; he is assisting others when they are unable to help themselves. Harmless; no one is physically being hurt.

Some may say that NFL ratings were hurt during his protests but the Presidential debates were also at this time. Ratings would go back up after the debates showing that Kaepernick is most likely not the cause. Socially beneficial; his protest is highlighting problems in the United States and by doing this help or benefit is coming to those who are oppressed. Finally, he has the right; Kaepernick had every right as a U.S. citizen to silently protest (Kane). Therefore, people may not realize or agree, but there is nothing wrong with what Kaepernick is doing.

All this being said, it is understandable why fans felt disrespected at first when Kaepernick sat. One of these fans was United States Army veteran, Nate Boyer, who actually played football himself in college. Boyer felt anger and disrespect when he first saw this protest and ended up writing a letter to Kaepernick personally. To summarize Boyer’s letter: he wanted to make it clear to Kaepernick that he was not trying to take away his right to protest. Boyer also said that he does not know what it is like to walk around in Kaepernick shoes and have to deal with prejudice based on the color of his skin.

However, Boyer made it clear that Kaepernick does not know what it is like to walk in the veteran’s shoes either. About two weeks after this letter was sent, Kaepernick wanted to meet Boyer, and arranged a time. According to Boyer, the first thing said by Kaepernick was: “First, I want to thank you for your service and everything you have done for this country. (Garcia)” This made Boyer have more respect for Kaepernick and in their meeting they were able to come to a compromise. Boyer suggested kneeling instead of sitting because in the military it is a sign used to show respect for fallen soldiers. Kaepernick liked the idea and thought it would be very powerful to do so. Therefore, Kaepernick’s protest was in fact influenced by an U.S. Army veteran.

This just proves that Kaepernick means no disrespect to the flag or servicemen, but rather is showing respect while also protesting for a problem. Boyer, in an interview, states…

“I was looking at our country right now, and where we’re at. And just the shouting. Everyone’s so concerned with just being right and not looking at the other side, even when the other side seems crazy, because when we’re [Army servicemen] overseas and we’re in Afghanistan and Iraq, I don’t agree with most of the customs and cultures, but I have to put that aside and swallow my pride and have a little humility and just say: ‘You know what? I don’t know what it’s like to grow up where you grew up.’… I don’t know what it’s like to be anyone but Nate Boyer, and I never will.” (Garcia)

Boyer’s quote is great for supporting Kaepernick; proving that Kaepernick himself looked at the other side to see why people were unhappy with his protest. He did this and collaborated with Boyer and came to the outcome of showing respect while still protesting. People are unhappy with Kaepernick for “disrespecting” the U.S. flag, yet he is not the one being disrespectful. In fact, he is showing more respect than the President of United States, Donald Trump. At a Presidential Rally in 2016, Trump goes on to call players like Kaepernick “son of a bitch” and even states that these players should be fired for protesting (Mindock).

Not even our President can step back like Nate Boyer or Kaepernick and say: “You know what? I don’t know what it’s like to grow up where you grew up… I don’t know what it’s like to be anyone but Donald Trump, and I never will.” Our President influences a lot of people in our country; he has an even bigger platform than Kaepernick. Most of the people who do not support Kaepernick are Trump supporters (Tannery). Someone like the President should be setting an example, not calling U.S. citizens profane names. He should be looking at the problem that’s being brought up and try to solve it.

Some politicians in congress do not agree with Trump; they may not say the words “Trump is wrong,” however, they still want this country to unite and solve this problem. Saying that Trump is wrong could cause more division, so these politicians simply throw in their own words to this controversy. One of these politicians is Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, a Representative from Texas. He was asked the question, at a rally: “How do you feel about NFL players who take a knee during the National Anthem? And is it disrespectful?”

O’Rourke would quickly answer with: “My short answer is no.” He would go on to explain why he does not think that the protest is disrespectful. O’Rourke brought up the examples from civil rights history including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the freedom riders. He also brought up Rosa Parks; “…Rosa Parks getting from the back of the bus to the front of the bus. Peaceful, nonviolent protests, including taking a knee at a football game… I can think of nothing more American than to peacefully stand up, or take a knee, for your rights anytime, anywhere, anyplace. (Now This)” O’Rourke, a United States Representative, is saying that Kaepernick’s protest American or patriotic. It can be argued that it is more patriotic than calling people names like President Trump did. So why are people saying that Kaepernick is being unpatriotic by not showing respect for the flag and the Anthem when in reality his protest is one of the most patriotic things one could do?

If it is so American to express your rights and stand up, or take a knee, for what you believe in, why do protestors like Kaepernick get punished? After the 2016-2017 NFL season, Kaepernick was a free agent, meaning he needed to sign a contract with either the same team [49er’s] or a new team. Unfortunately, not a single team wanted to sign Kaepernick due to the protest controversy around him. In a weird way, the NFL listened to President Trump by “firing” Kaepernick. Now the NFL did not actually fire him, but by not signing him, he no longer had a job. Kaepernick was not even in the NFL when rules were made for players during the National Anthem. Therefore, he did not break any rules and still was punished; not signed, by the NFL.

Kaepernick has even stated that he would no longer protest during the games if a team were to sign him (Schmidt). From personal knowledge, I know that the NFL has even censored him in all the Madden NFL video games that he is in. Since he is no longer in the NFL, he has not been put in to the more recent Madden games that came out after the 2016-2017 season. This is not a great example to show kids playing these games; standing up for what you believe in means you get punished. That is not a good message to send to the next generation.

Beto O’Rourke brought up previous protestors like King Jr. and Parks, and shows that they can be punished as much as the government authority wants, but at the end of the day they come out on top and rise above the harassment. History shows that punishing these protestors does nothing; this country needs to learn from the past and realize that it would be simple if the problem, in this case social inequality and police brutality, was just evaluated and solved.

Kaepernick, even being jobless, is still out in the community raising money and helping support his protest. He has gone on to win awards for his protest including the “Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award” and “Eason Monroe Courageous Advocate Award in 2017”. Recently, he won the “Ambassador of Conscience Award” in 2018 also (Schmidt). All he wants is to solve this problem and make the world around him better. He is still donating money, attending rallies that are supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, and overall keeping his protest alive (Schmidt). Kaepernick truly wants these problems that he is protesting to be solved. People need to see the determination of this man and respect it, they don’t have to agree, yet they should try to understand why he is doing what he is doing. He is no longer kneeling for the National Anthem, he has conformed to the situation he is in. People who oppose Kaepernick should conform also. This is what should be bringing people together to solve these problems.

It’s understandable to believe that no matter what happens, there are going to be people that do not agree with the way that Kaepernick protested. Yet, that is over now considering he is not in the NFL, and even if he were, he would no longer protest using that platform. It is time to come together as a country and fix these problems. People should not be treated any different because of their physical appearance. People should not be killed for the color of their skin, especially by those in position to protect these citizens in the first place. Justice needs to be brought upon those that do unspeakable acts, such as killing simply due to the appearance of someone. The only way is to come together and fix these problems or else they will continue. I do believe Kaepernick is the present day Martin Luther King, Rosa Park, or Malcom X. So why are we still waiting for these problems to be fixed?

Cite this paper

Stand or Kneel for Colin Kaepernick’s Protest?. (2021, Aug 30). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/stand-or-kneel-for-colin-kaepernicks-protest/

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Peter is on the line!

Don't settle for a cookie-cutter essay. Receive a tailored piece that meets your specific needs and requirements.

Check it out