Should Athletes be Required to Stand for National Anthem?

The issue of standing for the National Anthem became a major discussion within the last year when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to take a knee while the anthem played before a game. He did this as a way to protest the racial oppression and inequality in the United States. His point was that people of color and minorities are not afforded the same rights under the constitution as white people. Many people see the playing of the anthem as a tribute to America and the many people that fight for our freedom. I can understand where they are coming from, but if minorities are not entitled to the same freedoms as their fellow Americans then America is not being truthful with what it stands for and the anthem is not portraying what it is supposed to. Colin Kaepernick said he meant no disrespect to the war heroes and people that fight for us as a country, but felt that he needed to make a statement so he used his platform to do so. Many people bashed him and again tried to say that he had no right to do that before a game. I believe many people wanted to say he was bashing the military and our country as a scapegoat to avoid the issues he was actually drawing attention to, such as police brutality against black people that was going on in cities across the country including where he plays. According to an article on TIME written by Billy Witz, in his team’s final exhibition game before the start of the N.F.L. season, Kaepernick, along with his teammate Eric Reid, took a knee instead of a seat during “The Star-Spangled Banner,” all with the blessing of Kaepernick’s invited guest, Nate Boyer, a former member of the Army’s Green Berets. This was an important step because he was reaching to military personnel and trying to make progress for the country as a whole. According to Chuck Schilken of the LA Times Boyer wrote an open letter to Kaepernick, which included this quote, “Even though my initial reaction to your protest was one of anger, I’m trying to listen to what you’re saying and why you’re doing it,” wrote Boyer. This brings up the point that if someone who has served the country and is a respected veteran can be open to what Kaepernick is doing than why can’t a regular citizen take the same approach?

He later stated he would donate the first one million dollars of his salary to charitable organizations. He set up a charity section through his website that allows people to donate, but also see where he is sending the money and the organizations and cities that are benefiting from his work.

With all that being said, I believe players should not be forced to stand for the national anthem and that their rights are protected. I can also understand that the owners of the teams who employ these players have the right to put a policy in place for the players to stand or be subject to consequences, but there is no one that should be able to look at what Kaepernick did and say his intentions were wrong or he does not make notice of a valid problem across the United States.