Athlete Has Right To Take Stand By Not Standing

NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick​ has generated news recently with his ​​decision not to stand during​ the ​National Anthem​ prior to kickoff. ​His decision is unpopular with some fans, but others support his constitutional right not to stand.

Kaepernick, ​a quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers​, said he chose not to stand during the anthem to protest the oppression of ​minorities in the U​. ​S​.​ While many groups accept this, others find it disrespectful to those who have fought for the flag. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said his protest is “dumb and disrespectful.”

Because he did not break any​ NFL​​ rules, Kaepernick is not being punished for this​ by his team or the league​. The NFL encourages players to stand during the national anthem, but it is not required. His coach, Chip Kelly, said that Kaepernick will not be benched for the act and that, as a U.S. citizen, Kaepernick does not have to stand.

The 49ers issued a statement in which they said that the national anthem was an “opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens.” One of those liberties is the right to choose whether or not to participate in the honoring of the national anthem.

Alex Boone, a former teammate of Kaepernick, is among the people who find Kaepernick’s demonstration disrespectful to veterans, and he has chosen to speak out against the quarterback’s actions. ​Other veterans ​have supported his decision, saying that one of the very freedoms they fought for is the same freedom that Kaepernick ​is ​exercising.

Kaepernick has recently decided to kneel, instead of sit, in future games to “get the message back on track and not take away from the military, not take away from pride in our country but keep the focus on what the issues really are​.​”

Notable figures such as rapper J. Cole, Seattle Seahawks player Jeremy Lane, fellow 49er Eric Reid and U.S. Women’s Soccer player Megan Rapinoe have recently joined Kaepernick in his protest. Even President Obama has spoken on Kaepernick’s protest, saying that he was “exercising his constitutional right to make a statement.”

In the United States, citizens enjoy many rights that are not commonly found in other countries of the world. In oppressive regimes citizens would have no voice to speak out against an issue like this.

The way many people see it, any U.S. citizen has the freedom of expression as defended by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the U.S. Kaepernick has the right to kneel or stand during the national anthem, and the people protesting against him have the right to protest. ​The freedoms granted to citizens by selfless veterans allow all of us to express our opinions freely.​ Those freedoms help make our country great.​