Kaepernick Causes National Anthem Controversy

Photo courtesy of FootballSchedule, Flickr

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit during the national anthem has sparked a huge debate.

Kaepernick said he felt that black people in the country are oppressed.

“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,” said the quarterback.

Junior Austin Unglaub, who is a member of the Ramapo baseball team, said he would never sit during the national anthem at one of his games.

“Standing shows that you are thankful for the people fighting overseas, who are the ones that give us the ability to stand and live safely as American citizens,” said Unglaub.

“It’s one thing to say what you believe, but how you act on it is another. There is a time and a place for everything, and kneeling on September 11, a very important day to the people of this country, is disgusting,” said student Deana Laudicina.

On Sept. 11, the first Sunday of the season, and on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Sports Illustrated model Kate Upton tweeted that players kneeling during the national anthem is “unacceptable and horrific, especially on 9/11 when we should support each other.”

Upton later went on to say in an Instagram post, “After the song is over, I would encourage everyone to please use the podium they have, stand up for their beliefs, and make America a better place.”

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees also said that he felt compelled to speak out against Kaepernick’s actions.

“I wholeheartedly disagree,” said Brees. “Not that he wants to speak out about a very important issue, but there’s plenty of other ways that you can do that in a peaceful manner that doesn’t involve being disrespectful to the American flag.”

Former United States Navy Admiral William McRaven, who served as commander of the Osama Bin Laden raid, and is currently the Chancellor of the University of Texas System, also expressed his views on the protest.

“Honoring the flag does not imply that the republic for which it stands is perfect. Honoring the flag is our collective commitment that we will constantly attempt to get better as a nation, to improve as a people,” said McRaven.

On the other hand, some that feel that Kaepernick’s silent protest is efficient and justified. Steve Harvey showed his support in a series of Tweets posting, “IMO the anthem protest isn’t anti-government/military, its drawing attention to how the country isn’t living up to the words. ‘Land of the Free’ ain’t true for all sadly.”

Sophomore James Scalia agrees.

“Colin Kaepernick isn’t disrespecting the military, the lives lost on 9/11, or the country by kneeling. He’s making a statement that black lives matter and that it’s a very important issue in our country,” said Scalia. “The manner in which he’s doing it is extremely smart, He’s not being vulgar, violent or irrational.”

President Obama said Kaepernick is spreading awareness.

“I think he cares about some real, legitimate issues, and if nothing else, what he’s done is he’s generated more conversation around some topics that need to be talked about.” 

Whether one can or cannot agree with Kaepernick’s method of protest, or if his actions are un-American or simply highly controversial, it is undeniable that he has sparked an important discussion and certainly brought to light the issue of the growing racial tensions in the country.