Weston Campbell

ENG 101

Professor Ramos


Argument and Solution: Kneeling in the NFL

What does it mean when the president doesn’t support football players protesting during the national anthem? The NFL has had some league defining moments during the extremely controversial protesting that happened in over a year ago now concerning the players, the league its self and even the president. The spark of this incident was when Kaepernick on the 49ers took the knee during the national anthem at a football game to protest police brutality on minorities. This action has erupted into a roar with hundreds of other plays taking the knee, locking arms, or staying in locker rooms. With either side of people supporting the players or against the protesting, the problem evolved into something else when the President weighed in multiple times to say the players should be standing during the anthem. Some say that it morphed into what it was because Mr. Trump had interceded in the matter. There are a lot of different thoughts on this problem and there is a solution to this, but it may seem hard to find in this mess. The NBA, MLB, and NASCAR leagues had showed both criticism and support to the NFL players who took the knee, which came from the players, coaches, journalists, and even more politicians were getting involved in the debate. In the end, one must remember the main focus of this problem is the discussion of the first amendment and how much the U.S government has funded the NFL because of their showings of “patriotism” and what it means for the players when they protest at games.

“Protest in sport reached a level that has not been attained since the 1960s. The eternal mix of sport and politics has continued, but that mix is only approved by the dominant forces in society when it is serving the status quo. It is proper for the NFL to wrap itself in the flag in a display of PR patriotism, but not for players to protest racism during the national anthem. Where all of this will end is difficult to predict, but the protests and politicization of the players is not likely to vanish. The genie is out of the bottle, and it is very difficult to put it back.” (Crepeau). This quote from Richard Crepeau is my favourite quote from this source because it demonstrates the sitatution with the NFL and how it is reacting to this situation as they display their “patriotism” in PR statements concerning the amount of money they are given from the US government for being a patriotic sport. Nonethelesss with the President’s incidicary stance on the sitatuion, only making things more complicated, has sparked a discussion of whether the situation would become too mixed up, and the original real cuase would get diluted in the madness. With just about everyone talking about the situation in the NFL at this point, there was over two hundered players, managers, and owners finding different ways to show their dissent during the games. It came to the point to where the president had said ” They were fighting for our flag, they were fighting for our national anthem and for people to disrespect that by kneeling during the playing of our national anthem, I think that’s disgraceful,”. After this remark and many more a wave on social media was set off starting with the hashtag “TakeTheKnee” which was shortly followed up with on the following Monday with the president making more tweets about how the problem wasn’t anything to do with race and used his hashtag “StandForOurAnthem”. After all of the remarks and escalations, this matter had gotten blown into a whole new world of mixed messages and confusion.

As stated before, the original reason that Kaepernick took the knee, along with other protests at that time, were in protest of police brutality. So, when you have Trump, The NFL, and The American Legion calling the protests un-patriotic and calling the players who take part in them “ungrateful” caused the protesting to turn into just protesting racism. About a year before the protests in 2017 had gotten attention, the black lives matters movement in 2016 had already done protesting in the NFL during the anthem. Now, why didn’t anyone get mad when this happened? You’d be wrong to assume that of course, as someone will always have something to say about it, but why not on the level of the 2017 police brutality protests?  The reason for this backlash in these protest is because the fact that the players themselves are protesting, not a performer who was singing the national anthem. Many were concerned that the NFL was becoming an activist’s platform which would hurt viewership for the NFL because many fans watch for entertainment and not a place they want to see political statements being made. In this time we live in, one shouldn’t get surprised when politics gets mixed into something totally irrelevant to it, but will find some way apply its self to whatever the political situation is. For instance, for NFL fans don’t want to see players protest because they just want to watch for entertainment without dealing with political discussion, should instead involve themselves and take part in the discussion to better help the NFL deal with this tricky problem rather than just sit in the dark and push away the issue while it becomes bigger of an issue. “NFL players take the knee, take heat.” (Kraayenbrink).

However, there is another side to this problem and it must be looked at to be assessed properly to help solve this issue. To ignore the other side, no mater how negative or opposite to one’s self they are, can cause even more problems within this huge mess. Now, this group of people that stand against the protests have different reasons for doing so, not all of them are angry Trump supporters who want to support the president’s statements and “fire those damn bastards” for protesting during the anthem or staying in the locker rooms during the anthem.  That group of people can be very stubborn on their position, so hearing their reasons is enough and their solution is not one that can compromise everyone’s needs, in fact their solution would cause the biggest controversy in sports history most likely. So, we turn to the next group who voices their concerns about the protesting in a more comprisable way. Most of the fans in the NFL or any sport are there for the entertainment and to support their team or competitor. When the protests started happening, the NFL saw viewership drop in numbers, not just at the stadium, but across the Nation from people watching at bars or at home. Some bars said they would turn off that game of any of the players were to kneel during the national anthem which ended up hurting viewership. By going about this way of showing their dissent for the protests, the NFL started to respond more to this, because its real numbers that showed a lot to the people monitoring these things in the NFL. So, when there are many different sides that have their own requests and problems how does the NFL react and what is their solution? It is a very complicated and drawn out problem at this point with even the president, to no surprise, giving his own thoughts on the matter. The main reason for the protest have been so diluted at this point, that most people don’t even know why this all started and just see something about the matter on some headline online or a news article and get these extremely negative stances on what the players are doing because to them the NFL players look like a bunch of complaining millionaires. So the question rises, is this really the best place for them to be doing these protests? This is the only real comprisable problem that comes from the main problem of the protests done by the professional football players.

The first amendment, some of the biggest freedoms we have in comparison to the rest of the world’s countries comes from this. It has been looked over many times and questioned under many different problems most were worse than this. So, where does the first amendment come into play here? The players who take the knee or any other from of protest are defended by some because they believed that these players should be allowed to do these protest during the anthem because the reasons they have are justified. Without question this group thinks the first amendment applies perfectly to these players motives and support it defending the players from being punished. Of course, the other side to this argument must be assed too. Therefore, is it really the players that should be making these protests so controversial to get attention to their cause by protesting during the most patriotic moment of the most patriotic sport in the USA? The answer would be yes, because obviously that would get the most attention and get the most response as it has worked very well to spark discussion, but with much retaliation from the fans, the government, and the NFL. “Coverage from sources generally adhered to some of the characteristics of the protest paradigm, which are framing, the reliance on official sources, use of public opinion, delegitimization, and demonization.” (Pena). People who support the players or even the players themselves are called un-American, unpatriotic, disgraceful, and ungrateful by he other fans and the president. Meanwhile the ones supporting patriotism and the NFL are being named as the racists here. With all this tension that has been built up, either side has their own toxicity in the situation. Handling this problem needs a well thought out and must incorporate all sides to properly compromise for each side of the situation.

First one must find out why the NFL is not supporting the players who protest so the real reason is exposed. The US government funds the NFL a lot of money because the NFL is a “patriotic” sport, so when they have players who protest during the national anthem they must make a decision. This plan will have to give into the needs of the players as well because they still have a reason to protest. The players should find a better and more effective way of getting a message to get the change they want. Saying that protesting during the national anthem as professional athletes with the entire nation watching isn’t an effective way to get the message out would be outright wrong, because just look at what its caused so far. However, there is a better way to do this as doing this will only escalate the problem more and cause more bigotry to stand tall against the real problems these people face as police brutality and other race related matters have gotten worse over the years.

The solution should look something like more of a plan and not a singular magical fix that will effectively bring back viewers, satisfy the people who don’t want to see protesting during the game, and get the right message into the world that these problems are real, and that real people face them every day. Just because some of these problems do not affect their communities that are against the protesting does not mean they should push away the problem and let it get worse, instead they should show support to the cause while also showing that they do not want to see the protesting happen during these games. Doing this would show that they care about what’s happening to this affected communities and might help the players find a better way to protest. Its not about THE singular solution, we must come together to compromise and move on from bickering about things we see online that cause negative confrontations that lead to these things. If each side can admit their problems and be able to see the other sides needs that can compromise with their own, then we will see a progression in moving towards a positive place to move on to bigger issues that affect the entire planet rather than just a game.





Source 1:

Crepeau, Richard C. “Three Weeks of Madness.” On Sport and Society (2017): 4. <http://stars.library.ucf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1815&context=onsportandsociety&gt;.

“Protest in sport reached a level that has not been attained since the 1960s. The eternal mix of sport and politics has continued, but that mix is only approved by the dominant forces in society when it is serving the status quo. It is proper for the NFL to wrap itself in the flag in a display of PR patriotism, but not for players to protest racism during the national anthem. Where all of this will end is difficult to predict, but the protests and politicization of the players is not likely to vanish. The genie is out of the bottle, and it is very difficult to put it back.”

This reading from Crepeau will come in very useful as it highlights the main reasons for players kneeling and it also explains how the NFL is acting during these protests. I will use this article to further explain the situation with the protests and how different parts of the NFL reacted to it and how the Government did as well, mostly concerning the President.

Source 2:

Forst, Michael L. “Kneeling But Still Singing.” Kaleidoscope (2017): 18. <http://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1313&context=kaleidoscope&gt;.

“My choice in prioritizing the reactions of White onlookers over the performance of a woman of color implies that there is greater academic and social value in their responses to the protest, than in Lawrence’s protest itself.”

From reading this article I was much more informed on where kneeling during the anthem in sports has happened before within this decade and for this one it was for the black lives matter movement in 2016. This article is going to help me explain the racial problems that are intertwined with the protests and who in these situations is supporting the racism and why.





















Annotated bibliography

Source 3:

Pena, Vincent. “Taking a stand by kneeling.” University of Nebraska-Lincoln (2017): 73. <http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1056&context=journalismdiss&gt;.

“Coverage from sources generally adhered to some of the characteristics of the protest paradigm, which are framing, the reliance on official sources, use of public opinion, delegitimization, and demonization.”

This journal will prove to be extremely useful in my paper because of how much this reading covers on the whole situation and lays out every different subtopic that has to do with this problem. Next, most importantly this reading beautifully examines the protest paradigm which is a major problem concerning the protest because it is how the people who follow these journalists will be seeing the protest which will either make them players on the NFL teams look bad or good. This is going to be important because there are when other aspects of protesting come into the question. I will be using the article to explain previous acts of protests compared to these and why people then acted the way they did to them rather than these ones now. This is mostly because of the time and place that the protest is happening, so it determines whether the people support or dislike the protests.

Source 4:

Kraayenbrink, Clarissa. “NFL players take the knee, take heat.” The Diamond (2017): 8. <https://digitalcollections.dordt.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1787&context=dordt_diamond&gt;.


This article will further help my explanation of the situation as there are many different interpretations of all the incidents in the NFL that happened, so I want ot make sure the reader knows what exactly is happening in the problem. Next, I need another new source for what is happening all around as it will help push forward the flow of the paper with bringing in new sources. Also, the first incident with Kaepernick is nicely explained and will help me set up the first section of the paper for explaining the problem.

Source 5:

Atlantic Union Gleaner. “Can We All Stand?” (2017): 24. <http://atlantic-union.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Jan17_Gleaner_mr.pdf&gt;.

Now that I already have plenty of articles to help explain the situation, I am now using this article to further continue the discussion and not repeat myself by using the other articles as much. This article will help me bring fresh information to the conversation of players kneeling and it will help with my solution to the problem as it discusses that as well.

Source 6:       

Casto, Jared. “The Pathenon .” Sports (2017): 6. <http://mds.marshall.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1684&context=parthenon&gt;.

“President Donald Trump is indulging in his favorite kind of drama — personal, aggressive, culturally volatile and entirely of his own making. And his feud with the NFL shows no signs of abating, with the president tweeting early Monday morning: “The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!””

This article talks about the situation with how the President is acting to the NFL in a way that I liked, so I will be using it to explain that problem.

Source 7:

Cunningham, Phillip Lamarr. “Please Don’t Fine me again.” Journal of Sport and social issues (2016): 39-58. <http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=;.

Finally, this source will be used to better help my explanation of the racist aspects of the problem in sports which goes back to the 1960’s. This will help me explain one of the biggest problems and parts of this issue in sports and is an ongoing thing still. The root of the problem is analyzed in this article and It will make my explanation and solution much clearer in the end.