To stand or not to stand, for the anthem

More athletes follow Colin Kaepernick's protest

Rachel Belson, Contributing Writer

Standing for the national anthem shows that a citizen supports the United States of America, the military, the government, and what the country believes in.  Many people agree that if you are not standing for the national anthem because you are on your phone or you don’t feel like standing, it means that you are disrespecting the U.S.

Athletes are beginning to refuse to stand for our nation’s song because of personal political conflict.  After not standing for the anthem, quarterback Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers, explained to the NFL Media, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. 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.”

On Sept. 5, another athlete followed Kaepernick’s actions when Megan Rapinoe, midfielder for the Seattle Reign Football Club, refused to stand for the anthem.  She told American Soccer Now that she did it out of respect for Kaepernick and the statement he was trying to make.

“I think it’s actually pretty disgusting the way he was treated and the way that a lot of the media has covered it and made it about something that it absolutely isn’t. We need to have a more thoughtful, two-sided conversation about racial issues in this country,” Rapinoe said.

Rapinoe believes that the American flag does not protect her as a member of the LGBTQ community. She feels as though she does not receive the same freedoms as others. She also requested that white people stand in support of the racial issue.

Eric Reid, 49er’s safety, joined Kaepernick in protest by refusing to stand for the anthem.  Jeremy Lane, Seattle Seahawks’ cornerback, didn’t stand either because he felt connected to what Kaepernick was protesting.

All of the players mentioned have lived lives that most people can only dream of. They play their favorite sport for a professional team, and take home a hefty salary for simply playing a game. They have the freedom to publicly and nationally disrespect our country, receive free publicity for it and speak about why they acted the way they did. Yet, their country is not something to be proud of because it is imperfect.

President Barack Obama spoke on Sept. 5, in China, after the G20 summit, about Kaepernick’s protest. He spoke in support of Kaepernick, saying, “He’s exercising his constitutional right to make a statement. I think there’s a long history of sports figures doing so.” He says that it is tough for military personnel to hear of someone disrespecting the flag and the national anthem.

As President of the U.S., President Obama should be outraged by these actions. Instead, he is using the excuse that it is his “constitutional right.” Yes, our Constitution allows freedom of speech; however, that freedom of speech can be over-exercised. In regards to the flag, that right was out of line.  President Obama’s reaction was surprising because one would think he would be offended by citizens who did not stand for the national anthem out of respect for our government.

It is offensive to those who serve in the military and their loved ones when a person does not stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” with their hand over their heart. It is offensive to those who have immigrated to this country to become citizens in order to escape the injustices of the government from which they came. It is offensive to anyone who is proud to call himself or herself an American.

This country has given these people so much, but because of its imperfections, they believe the flag does not deserve their respect.

Yes, racial inequality is something that needs to be addressed, in addition to the many other issues we have in this country; however, that does not give someone a reason to dishonor this country.

When you walk through a store, do you see what candidate the store owners are supporting, what their political stances are, what political party they are registered to vote in?  In my experiences, the answer is no. That is because it is unprofessional to voice your opinion on anything political to your consumers. Playing sports may be their passion, but it is also their career.

There is no reason to disrespect the flag and “The Star Spangled Banner.”  Therefore, the answer to the question, “Should we support our country if it has flaws?” is “absolutely.”