The anthem is not a platform

Everyone who knows me is aware of the fact that I’m not exactly a sports fan. However, I’ve recently found myself watching and listening to several news stories concerning the NFL players who decided to kneel during the national anthem.

While I am a supporter of free speech and expressing one’s feelings, I am not a supporter of disrespect. Relations between civilians and police have been rocky for several years and should be addressed, but this protest is designed to paint the police in the worst light possible and takes away from the original issue.

Yes, police brutality is a serious issue; I’m not negating the effects of corrupt law enforcement. However, there are many more positive police experiences than negative ones, but these good experiences are rarely noticed or praised.

The American flag and the national anthem are important symbols in this country’s history, and, in my opinion, they should be respected as such. The anthem represents the millions of people throughout history who previously fought or are currently fighting for the rights of citizens to be protected, and as a person with several friends and family members who have served or serve in the armed forces, I find myself extremely frustrated with this protest.

Those who have served and fought for our country deserve respect, and these players are taking away the respect and recognition that the American military deserves to make commentary on police misconduct. Using the right of free speech and protest to be unpatriotic and disrespect armed forces seems contradictory and problematic.

Protests can be effective without disrespecting the nation’s history as a whole. The issue at the root of the protest is police brutality, which occurs at a small rate when considering the number of peaceful and positive police encounters, so I don’t think the nation as a whole should be put on display for bad behavior.

There’s no question that police brutality is wrong, and these players are trying to make an effective stand against disrespect. The way that these players are mixing sports with patriotism, though, only aids in perpetuating disrespect, especially when those protesting are in such privileged and esteemed positions.

NFL players are easily recognized by sports fans all over the country; clearly, the players protesting are in positions of power and can easily influence people across the country. The NFL players are advocating for social change by using disrespect.

Frankly, I have a problem with this. People with a privileged and powerful role should be mindful of the way that their actions affect and sway others instead of using their positions to essentially negate others’ accomplishments and hard work. I do believe they should use their voices to bring light to this problematic issue, but not to the detriment of others.

It’s pretty clear the NFL players want respect for their accomplishments on the field. So, maybe they should think about the impression of their means of protest in case people choose to remain silent about their accomplishments or refuse to attend or watch NFL games to protest the not-so-upstanding behaviors of a fraction of the players.