Emory & Henry Students Have Mixed Reactions to NFL Kneeling Controversy

Andrew McClung, Sports Editor • ajmcclung15@ehc.edu

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Kneeling in football used to be a normal occurrence, but in 2017 it has become a symbol of change for many football players, as well as a hot topic of debate. Currently in the National Football League (NFL), players have been kneeling for the national anthem as a form of protest.

On September 10, President Trump told NFL owners to get their players off the field if they knelt in protest during the national anthem, according to Fox News. That Sunday received the highest number of protests yet according to Sbnation.com. Over 200 players participated in some sort of protest that Sunday during the anthem, and some teams didn’t even come out of the locker room.

These protests have sparked nationwide debate about the appropriateness of protest during the anthem. Students at Emory & Henry have mixed thoughts on the issue.

Junior Carter Newton spoke on how she believes that players are expressing their right of free speech. “Soldiers fought for American citizens to protest and exercise freedom of speech. They’re trying to raise awareness for social injustice and police brutality. I don’t think it makes those NFL player any less patriotic than those physically standing.”

Freshman Evan Underwood said that he was very disappointed in seeing players kneel during the anthem. He said, “The national anthem has always been a symbolic event for myself be- cause I believe the military is fighting for their right to even take a knee and the players are just taking advantage of them. The players should take a second to think about how many people have died, just for their right to take a knee.”

 

Junior Nathan Krauss, another student at Emory & Henry has a different view on the subject. He said, “Each player has the same right as any other person in the United States. The problem that every player faces is that they are held on a different platform than other people. Just be- cause they’re held to a higher platform, should not mean that they should not have a right to protest injustice that they believe is occurring.”

Colin Kaepernick was the first NFL player to protest during the anthem. He did so during the 2016 NFL preseason.

Kaepernick stated that the reason he protested was the deaths of numerous African Americans due to police actions or while in police custody, according to Fox News.

After Kaepernick continued to kneel for the anthem during the pre- season, other NFL players decided to join alongside Kaepernick in his protest. The protest began to gain national attention from the media and many fans.

This is not the first time that taking a knee in football has become a controversy during recent years. In 2011, Tim Tebow, a former NFL player and current Major League Baseball player was in the spotlight during his time playing, due to kneeling in prayer after successful plays.

 

Junior Megan Stitzer believes that Tim Tebow was in a similar situation as the current protesters. “Tebow was exercising his freedom of speech kneeling. Whether one is protesting or praying, I do think that one should respect our country but also know there is major inequality and cannot be unnoticed. Neither Tebow or Kaepernick should be penalized for exercising their right,” said Stitzer.

 

Nathan Krauss also spoke on this subject, saying “both the Tebow and Kaepernick different postures on the football field are both acts of free speech protected by the First Amendment. While non-government entities have such as the NFL, or its commissioner have the right regulate the actions of its employees while performing the professional sports leagues should think long and hard before making any policy changes which might infringe on the ability of players to express their political or religious views.”

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