US President Donald Trump declared that NFL should enforce rules to prevent kneeling during the national anthem. Trump made the announcement Tuesday, and he praised the fans in the stadium who booed the players, the staff and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. The whole team kneeled before the anthem, but they stood up during the singing.
Trump called the fans to boycott NFL games until the league sorts out the problem of kneeling, and he already noticed the decrease in NFL TV ratings. However, as Trump said, people tune in before the beginning of the game to see whether the players are going to “show disrespect to their country.” More than 200 NFL players and several owners protested last week by kneeling and linking arms during the anthem.
Last week, Trump called the team owners to fire players who show any kind of protest during the anthem. Former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick started this practice last season in order to raise awareness of the racial discrimination present in the United States. Voice of America News reports that the president’s rhetoric sparked national debates about patriotism and racial inequality.
Trump said: “We have great representatives of this country, especially our soldiers, police officers, firefighters, who deserve to be treated with respect and when you kneel and disrespect the American anthem and flag – you show disrespect to them.”
POTUS really added fuel to the fire during the rally in Alabama when he said that all the players who are kneeling should be sacked. This comment angered players all around the league, especially African Americans who saw the announcement as racially-motivated. Baltimore Ravens’ Benjamin Watson said: “Whenever we feel that some of our brothers, from our or some other team, is attacked in a way, we will stand by one another.”
People from other sports spoke out, one of them being LeBron James. He said: “This is not about disrespecting the flag, our military and all those people who make this world free. It is about equality, about the possibility and freedom to speak of something which they believe is unjust.”
He accused the president of trying to divide America. James added: “We live in times when the most powerful in the world has a chance to get as close together as a nation, inspire and calm down the young, telling them it is completely O.K. to walk the streets without being discriminated against the color of their skin or the race, but he doesn’t understand, and he doesn’t care.”
Trump tried to defend himself as he was being attacked by a majority of sportspeople in the country. He said: “No, this has nothing to do with race. I never mentioned race.”
Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Donald Trump’s comments on Monday. She said: “This is about the president and millions of Americans being FOR something, being for honoring our flag, honoring our national anthem, and honoring the men and women who fought to defend it.”
Sports management expert, Daniel Kelly from Georgetown University told Voice of America that many African Americans see Trump’s comment as racist. The president appears to be unintentionally aiding the fight for equality, putting protests forward.
“Every victory, every sportsperson or team owner who kneels and links their arms with the teammates…The effect is evident. It is going to continue, and it will take a lot of time and effort until we see concrete results. This is just the beginning,” concluded Kelly.
The protests in the NFL will continue next week, while they are spreading to the other sports like wildfire. People in sports are becoming more vocal, day in day out, and this could be the start of something big in the U.S. Do you agree?