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Editorial: NFL players have the right to protest

What had dwindled down to a one-player protest was reignited this week by an explosive outburst from President Donald Trump. The outburst verbally attacked NFL players for kneeling during the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

To recap, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick remained seated during the national anthem throughout the season last year. Kaepernick’s actions started a movement for others who share similar opinions and wanted to make them known.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” said Kaepernick in an interview after that first game.

He explained later that he thinks this is bigger than football and, thanks to Trump’s comments, that certainly has been proven in the past seven days.

There have been multiple teams that have opted to stay seated during the national anthem, including the New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, Jacksonville Jaguars and the Miami Dolphins. On Sunday at a game against the Chicago Bears, the Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t even come onto the field until the anthem was over, with the exception of one player.

Trump slammed NFL players who chose to kneel during the anthem, resulting in even more protest from even more players. On Monday, the Dallas Cowboys and the Arizona Cardinals decided to lock arms and kneel because of Trump’s criticism.

Trump’s initial comments were said on Friday and stated that the NFL owner should fire any “son of a bitch” that “disrespects our flag.” After the NFL players demonstrated, Trump responded with more gusto: “Sports fans should never condone players that do not stand proud for their National Anthem or their Country. NFL should change policy!”

Although some will agree that refusing to stand for the national anthem is disrespectful, it still remains that players have the first amendment right to freedom of speech and peaceful protest.

We at The Spectator encourage students and faculty to keep and/or engage in peaceful protest, and to let others speak out about aspects in our society that they oppose, regardless of their own opinion.

We recognize that the national anthem is an important part of the pre-game ceremony and that people should have the opportunity to honor our country for the liberties we have as citizens. However, just as standing during the national anthem to honor our country is part of the American tradition, so is standing up (or kneeling) for what you believe in.

This editorial was written by a member of the editorial staff and expresses the general opinion of The Spectator.

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