Protests in Professional Sports

Professional athletes do not just play for their fans. There are racial issues plaguing modern day society, and professional athletes, specifically NFL players, are using their platforms to play significant roles in shedding light on these injustices.

A predominant and polarizing topic within sports over the past few years has been the question of whether or not NFL players should kneel for the National Anthem. This debate began back in 2016 when Colin Kaepernick knelt for the National Anthem to protest racial discrimination, especially police brutality. Following this, many athletes all across the country followed in his footsteps, kneeling to bring awareness to the devastating systemic racism black individuals face in the United States every day.

On Sunday, September 20th, the New York Jets, Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins all were out of sight during the Star-Spangled Banner, staying off the field before the start of the game. These have not been the first racial protests this NFL season. Two weeks ago, the Chiefs and Texans players also took a stance, deciding to link arms as a symbol of protest during the National Anthem. Although many NFL fans are content with the political role that the players are beginning to play, not everyone has the same perspective on players protesting. For example, fans at the Chiefs versus Texans game showed their discouragement regarding the protesting by booing the players.




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Not only are racial issues within sports creating a variety of opinions throughout the nation, but they are creating a similar difference of opinions here on the Hilltop. The diversity of opinions spreads throughout races, ages, and amongst athletes and non-athletes at Hackley.  

After watching the Sunday football games, junior Joey Nadol had a lot to say regarding the absence of NFL players during the national anthem. He believes “one of the most American things is the right to peacefully protest,” and that protesting should not be frowned upon, but encouraged.

Another junior, Jared Rosenberg, also believes in racial protesting, but viewed this topic differently. “There are issues in America that do exist, [yet] I think they [could] be handled differently,” he said after tuning into the Sunday games. His reasoning being that, “kneeling during the national anthem is disrespectful to our troops who lay their lives out for the protection of our country.”

Through the lens of an athlete, junior and football player Iheukwumere Marcus provided a different perspective on kneeling.

 He claimed,“I am in support of protesting […] when things aren’t going right in the country, I do think that kneeling during the national anthem is a little bit disrespectful.” He said that it is awkward for an athlete to protest alone as it “shows disunity [among] the team and that […] not everyone on the team is on the same page.” He also said  that “If it is something that you want to do then you should […] agree on it as a team.”

These perspectives emphasize the delicacy, complexity and variety of opinions this topic brings out in people in the sports world. No matter what, NFL players will continue protesting throughout the season, raising and spreading awareness for these racial injustices, in pursuit of long awaited change. 





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I’ll continue to take a knee to bring awareness to the issues of police brutality, systematic oppression and social injustice in our country — that is action. I’ll also continue the work I’ve been doing alongside the protest… Educating myself and others on social issues Being an advocate for mental wellness Mentoring youth and fostering positive action in our community Working with law enforcement to stress safety and accountability in our communities And ultimately, doing my best to use sports as a platform to bring people together. There is great opportunity for this deal to have an impact and that’s the goal. I will say that I don’t respect the way either party went about it. We can all work towards social justice without disparaging one another…let’s hope that Roc Nation recognizes this and shifts their stance on people using different methods to work towards what is hopefully a shared goal.

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