Real Talk Tuesday: NFL Player Protests: A Message Lost in the Shuffle

pence national anthem

By: Dan Bender

If you’re anything like me, you are exhausted from the ceaseless debate over player protests during the National Anthem at NFL football games.  The non-stop coverage over which team or player did what during the anthem has dominated not only sporting news, but all news since former 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick first knelt during the anthem last season.  This article is not intended to report on the minutia of how players protested, but rather highlights how Kaepernick’s original message has been lost over the past year due to the responses from our nation’s leaders, most recently being from Vice President Mike Pence.

This past weekend’s matchup between the Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers was visited by VP Mike Pence who reportedly left the game following the player protests during the National Anthem.  Pence was quoted via twitter saying, “I left today’s Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.” Pence’s words show how he has misconstrued Kaepernick’s message of racial inequality and police brutality towards minorities.  He suggests that the players are showing disrespect to our military and country as a whole through their protests when in fact they are focusing on the never ending racial battle.  It appears as though Pence and President Donald Trump, who tweeted that NFL players who protest are “SOBs” and should be fired, are trying to paint the picture that the protestors are unpatriotic, even though they are promoting arguably one of the most American ideals of racial equality, something this country was supposedly meant to have been founded on.

Pence’s early exit from the game looks as though it could have been a staged political stunt as journalists were reportedly instructed to stay in their vans as there “may be an early departure from the game.” Additionally, a CNN report estimates that his trip to the game cost around $242,000 which is quite the expense for a political statement that ironically is separating people despite his claim that the player protests are doing such.

I understand people can argue these player protests are driving a wedge between Americans and are forcing us to take sides over a difficult issue.  Maybe this is true and that we are becoming divided as a nation over race, which is simply an embarrassing and barbaric concept.  However, it is important to remember the protests are focused on this issue and are not an attempt to disrespect our military, Flag, or any other aspects of the US that make our country great.  If people can’t understand this, then maybe it is good to separate those who are promoting equality for all and those who hold views of ignorance.

Relevant song to put things in perspective. If you feel the need to argue about this topic, give it a listen.

*This is an opinion piece that Street Smart Sports stands by. If you are offended by the views in this article, it is not our place to cater to your needs. We understand that player protests are an emotional issue, however, this article in no means diminishes the respect for our flag, military, or country. We stand by the First Amendment rights to free speech and expression. Peaceful protest by NFL players in this situation are warranted and appreciated.

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