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At the start of the 2016 NFL season, Colin Kaepernick, a football quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, as well as Megan Rapinoe, a midfielder for the United States women's soccer team, and other professional athletes. They decided to exercise their first amendment right to free expression by protesting during the national anthem at the start of the season. Protesting police violence against African-Americans in the United States. This rally almost instantly sparked a national discussion on social inequality. Introducing the issue in the midst of a multibillion-dollar returns market. It was an unavoidable dialog. Colin Kaepernick protests have spread immensely inspiring political controversy all over amongst all kinds of different people. Couches even going as far as encouraging locker rooms race conversation about diversity. Inspired also are other actions like NBA players locking arms during national anthem, even though they are not taking a knee. Most players taking measures to improve societies race relations in their communities.

Regardless though this peaceful forms of protest still have a down side to them. In one instance death threats have been sent to very young kids. Some pro athlete players have lost most endorsement. Other youth seasons having to be cut short after receiving too much backlash. There are those who believe that the kneeling is improper because there are so many other methods and platforms one can protest their causes from other than during the national anthem singing time on games.

Using gestures such as taking a knee at the time of National Anthem to point out injustices, should not be considered as act of dishonoring the country, nor protesting American flag. It should rather be looked at as patriotism in part of a citizen to trying to bring out conversations to the main stream about police brutality to find solutions. Unarmed Americans being killed by police should be an intolerable act, and all citizens should rally together in the stopping of such a heinous act. One may argue that in honor for the ideas the flag stands for, kneeling is not disrespect towards the flag

"This is our role as very concerned American citizens legally trying to play our right given role in a bigger more important conversation on and about race in America, a broader conversation about Americas criminal and justice system, and our lands law enforcement," Jenkins said. "And this is also not an indictment on law enforcers nor police. We are not of anti-police agenda. Most of us worked very hard hand-in-hand with law enforcers to come up with solutions and ways to move the country forward in a much better direction, to re-instill trust in the countries law enforcement and to hold them accountable and make them transparent to as that of our communities are looking for."

The reason why a positions such as the one taken by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, of sending a memo to try and forcefully stop all 32 teams from allowing any of their players from taking a knee failed. A statement which he later retracted after a meeting with the players and NFL owners. It’s because it is within ones right to do so. In fact, kneeling" is virtual definition of 1st amendment act.

The NFL response is quit fair. Instead of shutting the players down its only but right to support their cause as long as it’s within the confines of the law. Goodell initial reaction of failing to acknowledge the players right to freedom of expression was only but hostile and would have been met with only more resistance. Making things only worse.

Consider University of Missouri refusal to play football in 2015 until the school president stepped down. Less than two days later Wolfe resigned. The NFL when deciding how to handle the ’take a knee’ gesture should recall such an incident, for popular sports figures can wield so much immense power when there is a political and racial turmoil.

Even though most view the NFL as just an entertainment platform, where millions tune in to see hardworking athletes rewarded. The reality is these players are who are patriotic citizens with lives, families, and opinions.

Protests more than often if miss handled might end up causing more problem than initially trying to address. It’s better to have football pitch’s a forum for public political debate than to have NFL and players back and forth fighting.

It is plain obvious that there are racially inclined elements to this protests. Protesters are obviously being retaliated against due to them protesting, and no known direct regulatory laws are available to protect them from this. Even so, state and federal discrimination laws don’t carry enough weight for the players to claim that NFL is retaliating against them for protesting racial harassment and discrimination. State laws and Title VII focus solemnly on whether an employee is punished retaliation due to opposing discriminatory workplace practice, but not for general speaking out over race relations.

Even though so far there has been no full descriptive work done among citizen on different forms of anthem protest and NF responses to such actions. Some research on young adults indicate that respondents who were black most likely supported close to all forms of protest on flag anthem and didn’t support the disciplining of players in the NFL that protested. Even after control of multiple correlates, several key of them. Racial effects seemed to remain which they point out very key distinctions regarding how adult citizens view the world.

Currently, kaepernick is not signed by any NFL team. It may not be because of his protest it could also be in consideration of his previous season job performance, but still, he could argue that since at first the team was unwilling to fire him. He can bring an argument that his letting go was caused from pressure from the funs who demonstrated against him in, on his beliefs and racial preferences.

Counter arguments such as members of the military Malcolm Jenkins, Philadelphia Eagles safety who raised a fist during the anthem, and former New York jets player Michel Faulkner who has suggested that during National anthem teams should stay in the locker room if they are going to protest.

Also, some argue that football players are like employees in the private sector. Where employers are given a free mandate to regulate any political speech and activities within their work sites and premises.

The President Donald Trump also tweeting “I think that Sports fans should have never condone players who do not stand proud for their National Anthem or their Country. NFL should change policy!”

But from such criticism players have reacted defiantly and in a variety of manner. This has also increased the number of players joining the protest. Of cos question being, while protests are gaining popularity is the cause united. For some might argue that others are not primarily protesting police brutality but rather they are protesting Trump. So are they united in their cause?

We are starting to see already that some may be protesting civil liberty and equity while others are protesting to show their team mates support against those who want o deny them their right of protest. For example, Brandon Marshall appears to be agitating for awareness of inequality through his kneeling. Unlike the first protester Colin Kaepernick whose kneeling protest is for police brutality end. Even though Marshall is the one joining Colin, their goals seem to vary.

So if they already lack consistency in their reasons for protests will they be able to affect any change. Truth be told is that the players will affect very little change not unless they unite under a common singular cause. Sociological change starts at a regional level. Discussion may start from the national level focusing on the state leading to faster goal resolution and a higher rate of success. Commonly social change is discussed on a national debate but is impacted on the state and local level points. This may not seem right but most important social changes in US history (the Vote Right Act of year 1965 15th also 19th amendment) were effected mainly through their national protests. 

Another example is when women rallied together seeking their right to vote. Most changes started at the local and state level. This were protests held in the 1910s during the World war 1, protesting suffrage experienced by women discriminately.

Lack of a singular defined end game or goal may make the protests useless as how will they be able to measure their success. Unity amongst members and goals achieved are two most success deterministic factors of a protest.

It can be argued that for sociological change to occur it’s supposed to start at the regional state level. By just looking historically at previous major protests over the decades there is a common method of how to achieve progress. Looking at the occupy movement and tea party we see deference’s again. The tea party argued for mayors to be locally elected, also governors and state legislators while Occupy movement significantly ignored those cries and focused their attention on federal point level insisting on trying to force president and congress to consider their pleas. The route by the tea party seemed to have yielded riper fruits. Since faster growth and progress change is attributed to elections in the local state happening more often, also they got more vote electioneering power during federal elections because of placed laws that were new in place at the city level and state.

Charities are also applicable to this circumstances; they often see less action even though this charities usually have immense lobbying power and money. Those that are focused on their area of change tend to be more successful movements and have faster and effective results. This is why the elite tend to only support their charity causes or closely related ones. Athletes are best known for such practices. Colin Kaepernick is famed for his donation of 1 million dollars to charities. Players in the NFL are often told to form individual charities or support those of similar cause. For example, David Bruton found it worthy to fight illiteracy among children, so he had a regional focus during so through books and school supplies donation. He had a more effective impact this way than if he had focused on the multinational or national level.

It is a noble cause for NFL football players to try and accomplish meaningful goal through national level protests but rarely are they effective enough. The best path to follow is through influencing the local government state officials. This has already been seen. In fact, linebacker for Broncos Brandon Marshall being amongst to join Colin stopped kneeling after he met with police department of Denver, state, and city representatives, this is more influential than if hid donated money to charities of national stature.

In conclusion, I want to emphasis that the players won’t be able to achieve much influence or lasting meaningful impact if they are not united in their cause. Very little will be achieved, Like the rebellious actions towards President Donald Trump and the fight for free speech. Also change almost starts bottom up, from the local to the state. While a national broadcast is good for awareness increase its not great for effecting change. Therefore, donations and protests may be nice but not as reliable as holding meetings with mayors and deputies to come up with revolutionary solutions.

Seek meetings with target group that one is hoping to exercise change. Help congressmen and lobbyist come up with guiding rules and principles for proper monitoring of equal rights distribution. This and many more are to my opinion more effective ways of achieving social change compared to just taking a knee and donations.

References

Intravia, Jonathan, Alex R. Piquero, and Nicole Leeper Piquero. "The Racial Divide Surrounding United States of America National Anthem Protests in the National Football League." Deviant Behavior (2017): 1-11.

Rorke, Tom, and Adam Copeland. "Athletic Disobedience: Providing a Context for Analysis of Colin Kaepernick’s Protest." FairPlay, Revista de Filosofia, Ética y Derecho del Deporte 10 (2017): 83-107.

O'Brien, Timothy. "Understand legal aspects of game day protests involving the national anthem." College Athletics and the Law 13.8 (2016): 1-3.

Bramhall, Bobby. "An Employment Stance on Taking a Knee." Journal of Legal Aspects of Sport 27.2 (2017): 109-126.

Pena, Vincent. "Taking a stand by kneeling: An analysis of national anthem protest coverage." (2017).

Smith, Kerry. "Ex-Collingwood star slams AFL racism." Green Left Weekly 1150 (2017): 22.

August 09, 2021

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