The issue of taking a knee during the national anthem originally surfaced during the NFL 2016 season, but President Trump’s Twitter posts have recently sparked further controversy about the movement.
The tweets have mainly been aimed at Colin Kaepernick and those who followed his lead to kneel. Other players taking part in the protest include Marcus Peters of the Kansas City Chiefs, Marshawn Lynch of the Oakland Raiders and Michael Bennett, of the Seattle Seahawks.
Numerous athletes and teams across the NFL, other major league sports, minor leagues, and down into high school have taken part in the protests.
The movement’s meaning lies in protesting and bringing attention to police brutality toward black Americans.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said in a statement in August 2016 regarding his reason for kneeling. “To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street, and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
The NFL released a statement the next day, on Aug. 27, 2016, saying “players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the national anthem.”
This year, Trump’s disdain for the movement was expressed in September by numerous tweets and statements.
“The NFL is in a very bad box. You cannot have people disrespecting our national anthem, our flag, our country,” Trump said outside of the White House. “And in my opinion, the NFL has to change, or you know what’s going to happen. In my opinion, their business is going to go to hell.”
The attention that has been brought around this movement has created two very polarized views, which divide much of our nation, and Capital isn’t immune to this.
“Capital University is a place that encourages higher learning, exploration, and personal development through challenging oneself and others, as well as free speech that encourages a positive experience and community,” Ryan Gasser, sports information director for Capital’s athletic department, said. “We respect a student-athlete, staff or faculty member’s right to freedom of speech and encourage all to stand up for their personal beliefs behind educated and respectful methods which supports positive change to the Capital and Bexley community, and our society.”
Gasser also acknowledged the controversy that this stance may cause.
“We understand that opinions may differ, but also expect that those differing viewpoints are met with critical thought and open minds so that constructive dialogue can be had by all sides of an issue in an effort to make that positive change a reality,” Gasser said.
Gasser also commented on the new pregame procedure for football games.
“Each team and sport has different procedures for how pregame is run. Football made the change prior to the 2017 season to have both teams remain in the locker room, field house, or outside the gated entrance before the playing or singing of the national anthem,” Gasser said. “This was done to limit foot traffic in that area prior to the game and allow each team additional time for preparation against its opponent, and not in response to any of the events happening on a national level.”
While it was not done deliberately in response to the issue, does keep taking a knee to be an issue for the football team.
“Each team may have different team policies in regard to its expectations when the national anthem is played,” Gasser said. “With how pregame is run for football, this is a non-factor due to the timing and location of both teams.”
Last year, the football team was on the field during the playing of the national anthem, and Kane Thomas, junior, spoke about players’ actions last year.
“We do what you feel like is necessary … We get back to being family and playing football right after that,” Thomas said. “Last year, we got emails [addressing] the players that did kneel and the players that did raise their fist, saying that it was okay and that they supported everything we did because the university supports inclusiveness, and difference and peaceful protest.”
According to Thomas, the attitude toward students who participated in the protest was still positive, and that they were not told that they shouldn’t be protesting.
“I personally don’t believe it’s an anthem protest, I believe it’s a protest during the anthem,” Thomas said. “… It’s how individual groups feel like they’re being treated. So with that regard, I think everyone … is just trying to get their point across the best way they can peacefully.”
Junior Cory Wibbeler commented on the polarization of the media regarding this movement, and that both sides are being misunderstood from the opposite view.
“If there was more collaboration, both sides would be heard out,” Wibbeler said.
Head Football Coach Chad Rogosheske agrees with Capital’s statement that this form of protest is peaceful and respectful, yet effective. Because the team is not on the field during the playing of the national anthem, there has been less talk of the protest this year. It came up more last year when the movement started, but has resurfaced due to the conflict between the president and the NFL.
“Disagreements come from a lack of understanding and lack of empathy from the other person’s point of view,” Rogosheske said. “So in instances of conflicts … there has to be an acknowledgement and understanding of the other persons perspective.”