The US professional athletes have been silently protesting the racial inequality and police brutality by kneeling when the US National Anthem is played. This started is 2016 at the National Football League when 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem. This resulted in members of different NFL and other sports team engaging in similar protests throughout 2016. The protests became more widespread as over two hundred players kneeled in response to the US President’s calling for owners to fire all of the players who are participating in the protests.
Playing the Star Spangled Banner before sporting events is a tradition in the United States. The people present are expected to stand in attention with their right hand placed over their heart. Until 2009, National Football League players were not required to be present when the national anthem was played. However, ever since 2009, this has become a tradition.
According to Kaepernick and his teammate Eric Reid, they decided to kneel rather sit as it is a more respectful gesture. They even compared their protest to flying the flag at half-mast to mark a tragedy. The country is split over their response to these kneeling protests. Some people even find it as disrespectful to those who have been wounded or killed during services of the United States.
Kaepernick initially protested against the death of African Americans by police actions or while they were in police custody. With the growing momentum of the Black Lives Matter Movement, the protests could not have come at a better time. After the game, Kaepernick was reported to have said that he believes that this way bigger than football and he will continue protesting till he feels that his country started representing what it is actually supposed to represent. He has even pledged 1 million dollars to different organizations to help those communities in need. This has led to other NFL players following his lead, moving the President to ask the protesting players to be removed from the NFL.
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