by Caroline Favret, ’18
Last year, NFL player Colin Kaepernick famously used his influence as a professional athlete to bring up social issues. As the Star Spangled Banner played, Kaepernick took a silent knee on the field as spectators in the stands stood, hands over their hearts. This peaceful protest made headlines across the nation, around the same time as the Black Lives Matter movement took flight.
Now, athletes across the U.S. have followed in Kaepernick’s footsteps by protesting the National Anthem in an united front against racial divide.
Ohio has seen this trend in all levels of athletics. Last year, Cleveland Browns tight end Seth DeValve became the first white player to kneel or sit during the anthem.
Rodney Axon, a football player for Brunswick High School in Ohio, became the first high school athlete to take a knee. He protested for the same issues as others had before him, but also for his own experiences after teammates used the “N-word” in locker room discussion of the opposing team.
“I didn’t show up to the game thinking that I would kneel for the national anthem,” Axon said to New York Daily News.
UAHS junior Christian Brunton agrees with this method.
“Being black myself, I’d say that they should keep doing what they’re doing as long as they don’t aim at our miliary and only want a change in the police situation,” Brunton said.
This tactic isn’t just contained to Ohio. On Sunday, Sept. 25 teams across the NFL chose to make statements on gameday.
While overseas in London, members of the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars kneeled, then stood for the British national anthem, “God Save the Queen.”
The Seattle Seahawks and the Tennessee Titans played in Tennessee, but when the anthem played, the players remained in their respective locker rooms.
“We will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of color in this country. Out of love for our country and in honor of the sacrifices made on our behalf, we unite to oppose those that would deny our most basic freedoms,” the players of the Seahawks said in a statement.
The owner of the New York Jets joined his team by locking arms during the anthem, while some players on the Miami Dolphins chose to wear t-shirts with “#IMWITHKAP” emblazoned on the front during pregame warmup.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say: ‘Get that son of a b—- off the field right now, out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’” Trump told a crowd during a speech in Alabama on Sept. 22.
Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors in the NBA have their own way of protesting, to which Trump responded in a similar manner.
“Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!” Trump said in an Sept. 23 tweet.