Randy Smith: NFL Anthem Controversy Isn't Over

Friday, May 25, 2018 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith
This week the National Football League owners declared there will be penalties and fines for players who continue to kneel during the playing of the national anthem. Don't think for one minute this controversy is over. What has made our country so great and so strong for so many years is freedom; the freedom to express ourselves without fear of retribution. Making a choice to kneel instead of standing while the anthem is played is not my personal choice. However, I am a white male. Members of my race are not typically arrested and beaten or shot by police. Normally, members of my race are not discriminated against for housing or jobs. Members of my race are not racially profiled by police or store owners.
The only way members of my race would have a reason to kneel would be to show support for their African- American teammates.

This has always been a peaceful demonstration, though it has raised the ire of many white Americans. The Trump administration claimed a huge victory when the NFL owners announced their decision this week. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stated the vote was unanimous, though this week a couple of owners said that was not true, as they had abstained from voting. (Perhaps Goodell has taken a page from President Trump's book regarding untruths.)

So, what happens next? The NFL Players Association isn't going to just take the edict handed down by the owners lightly. It is a matter of fact that the kneeling protest has never been about disrespecting the United States flag. To me it is more disrespecting to the flag and my country to stand for the anthem, with your cap or hat still on your head than it is to kneel in protest and believe me, I have noticed that happening on more than one occasion. Colin Kaepernick, who started all of this during the 2016 NFL season changed his protest from sitting, to kneeling because he had discussed his protest with members of the military and it was decided that kneeling was more respectful than sitting. 

A good portion of America took issue from the very beginning with Kaepernick and his protest, even though very few took the time to really understand what he was protesting.  Dr. Martin Luther King once said, "And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met.  And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity."

It was that way fifty years ago or more, and it hasn't changed much at all. Only when all of America decides to realize that there is injustice in our society and the kneeling protest by NFL players is about that and nothing more. Hopefully, we can put this past us and start to correct the more serious problem.  

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Randy Smith can be reached at rsmithsports@epbfi.com



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