Are NFL players disrespecting the country?


Graphic courtesy of Angelina Zheng

Sanchita Teeka, Contributing Writer

When we hear the anthem we generally stand, put our hands to our hearts, and face the flag as a sign of respect and loyalty towards our country. I’ve been doing this for almost my entire life without giving it a second thought, as have most American citizens. At  NFL games, players have started to kneel to the flag and withdraw from reciting the national anthem. Many Americans consider this to be disrespectful. But do they know how many people disrespect the American flag on a daily basis? In reality, this issue is being blown way out of proportion. This past year has been filled with many controversial topics, including police brutality and racism, which is why NFL players are kneeling and refusing to recite the anthem. They are trying to show their unity and support toward unfairly-treated people of color.  

Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, originally felt that this sort of conduct was inappropriate. However, in the first NFL game of the season, he joined his team and took a knee. He now says he was proud of his team for showing respect and unity.

“We want to stand and respect the flag,” Jones explained. “Nothing we did tonight says anything other than that, but we also, as a complete team … want to be able to, when we can, demonstrate that unity is important and equality is important. So, the thing that I’m so proud of these guys for, they did both.”

We know how the players feel, but what do the majority of people think? A recent Remington survey as of Sept. 26 found that 64 percent of Americans believe players should be standing for the anthem. At the same time, 80 percent of people feel sports are too politicized. Basically, the vast majority of people seem to believe this is disrespectful towards America and our flag. Most of all, they want games to be less political.

The topic of disrespecting the flag and nation has caused tons of controversy and debate. Officially, there is no law or code stating that it’s illegal or disrespectful to kneel before the flag. Yet, many Americans do officially disrespect our flag and nation, almost on a daily basis. If you have American flag clothing or American flag uniforms you most likely think you are showing your patriotism and love for America. According to the U.S. Flag Code, that in fact is quite disrespectful. In fact, even Mr. Donald Trump himself has violated the U.S. Flag Code. One particular area of the code states, “The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever.” Evidently, Trump has used the US flag in many of his campaign posters ad signs and campaign merchandise. Nobody made a big deal, or even really cared. So why is it now that people are so aware and upset about NFL players kneeling, and supposedly disrespecting the flag?

We know the number and percentages show most people don’t really like this form of protest, some people believe that it is the players’ right to kneel. Constitutionally speaking, it is  the right of the people, according to the First Amendment, which gives us the right of speech and protest.

The reality is that people are taught to abide by the Bill of Rights, but at the same time, don’t enjoy protest, especially when it’s on a huge field surrounded by thousands of people who are just there to be entertained. Because let’s be honest, who wants politics to interrupt their leisure time? People don’t care much if protests are done out of their direct view, where they can easily avoid it. When protests are happening and people are forced to watch it, that’s when they get angry and start caring.

In reality, kneeling to the flag is made out to be so much worse and more disrespectful than it really is, especially when compared to how citizens act on a daily basis. To prove my point, the next time somebody truly disrespects America or the American flag by wearing it, using it for advertising or all of the above acknowledge it, take notice of it and see if anyone else did. Were people offended? Did they make it as big a deal as kneeling to the anthem?