Social media has recently been flooded with videos of former NFL fans burning their jerseys. People are burning jerseys in reaction to the protests carried out by players of the NFL. With a large portion of players in the league either kneeling or waiting in the locker rooms during the national anthem, ratings have been dropping rapidly.
By now we’ve all heard the story about Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the National Anthem last season. This year it wasn’t just a few players but entire teams that protested social injustice by waiting out the National Anthem in their locker rooms.
After last week’s trend of NFL team jersey burning, I wanted to know exactly what was happening. Could this be the end of the NFL as we know it? Or simply a fad that will pass as quickly as it started?
The question on everyone’s mind is, “How does not standing or saluting our flag equate a positive message about social injustices?” In fact, many Americans see the actions taken by players as a direct insult to our beloved flag.
“Drape an American flag over your brother’s coffin, and then ask me if standing and saluting the flag during the National Anthem is important to me,” said Greg Beaty, Air Force Veteran and owner of Brackin’s Blues club in Maryville.
Mike Patterson, a local Air Force Veteran, also opened up on the matter.
“They don’t understand what they’ve done,” Patterson said. “They have the right to do as they please, and I have the right to change the channel.”
Veterans weren’t alone in their fury towards the NFL players, as president Trump also chimed in on the matter.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” Trump said on the matter.
The irony of the situation lies in the fact that most Americans would probably join in to protest social injustice. Many who oppose the actions of the NFL feel that the NFL players are protesting in a way that seems misleading and could alternatively be demonstrated several different ways.
For instance, many have argued that they could march in an actual well-defined protest that has clear goals. Those who take a knee during the anthem at football games are likely doing it for vague and undefined reasons such as “police brutality” and “injustice”, whereas those in the social justice movement that lead actual protests have well-defined goals and ideology.
They could also speak out more than they do currently. Taking a knee is a good visual indicator that something is wrong– football players do it all the time when someone is injured– and the argument could be made that they’re taking a knee to signify that our country is injured; however, that simple act can only go so far. Being far more vocal about their own experiences and injustice that they’ve experienced can help to provide more voice to their cause.
All that being said, I’ll likely continue to stand and face the flag during the anthem. I recognize that this country isn’t perfect, and that the argument that things could be much worse isn’t valid, but it’s still my homeland and I feel that I owe it that much. Americans of every race have fought, bled and died for this country. From black soldiers in the Civil War fighting for the Union, to the Navajo code-talkers who served in World War II, they’ve all given their lives and the “last full measure of devotion” to this country, and that will forever deserve our respect.