Brevin Scullion, Parker Cote, and Kaleb McCloud
Over the past couple of seasons in the NFL some players caused controversy by sitting or kneeling during the National Anthem to call attention to injustices people of color face in America today. Many players have been participating in the protest but the figurehead in the NFL is former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick started sitting during the national anthem because he believed that what the anthem stood for is not true in today’s society as there is still racism. Then after a meeting with Army veteran and former Seattle Seahawks long snapper Nate Boyer, they came to a compromise to kneel instead of sit during the National Anthem. This has sparked important conversations about racism across the country among all age groups and even here at Jamesville-DeWitt High School.
In September, Donald Trump further popularized the controversy by saying the players who kneel should be fired and further tweeting his thoughts on the subject and how it was disrespectful to our country. He even trashed the NFL for not making a rule, where all players have to stand for the anthem.This sparked even more anger and protest in the NFL and in the country.
J-DHS students have strong opinions on whether athletes should be able to kneel or sit during the anthem. Some support the players using their First Amendment right. “It’s really important for people to use their freedom of expression to stand up for things they believe in,” said social studies teacher Donna Oppedisano, who believes that NFL players have the right to kneel if they would like to. “Anybody is entitled to voice their opinion in a peaceful and productive way,” said social studies teacher Andrew Cottet who also thinks that it is okay for players to be kneeling. The First Amendment is a common reason people give on why they think it is in their rights to kneel. Senior Danielle Jaffe said, “I think it is a part of their free speech so they can do whatever they want.”
Sophomore Amirah Britt and many other students are glad that they are protesting.“Racism in our country needs to be stopped because things are getting out of hand,” said Britt. “Athletes are not disrespecting the soldiers, they are protesting racism in the U.S,” said Britt. “Soldiers are fighting for freedom in the United States and the NFL is taking away the athletes freedom,” said junior Mia Antonucci.
However, some students disagree with the idea of politics in sports. “I don’t agree that politics and sports should influence each other, they should just play,” said freshman Scott Reeves. “They are just causing unwanted attention,” said sophomore Brendan Coyle. Some students are angry with how politics are beginning to influence sports. “Athletes should just stick to playing their sport,” said Coyle.
Other students are frustrated with how the players are reacting. “Players are disrespecting soldiers who fight for our country every day,” said sophomore Josh Duby. “Soldiers are dying everyday to protect our freedom, the least players could do is show respect during the anthem,” said Duby.
This topic has sparked debates in the US and has brought up many important racial issues affecting the United States. “In the end, there is no right or wrong answer,” Reeves said.