Opinion: National Anthem Protests Are Ineffective

Bryan Hudnell | Staff Writer

What has changed since Colin Kaepernick first took a knee during the national anthem?

It has been over a year since the former 49ers quarterback first protested racial inequality and police brutality, but what does America have to show for it? It is hard to argue that any significant change has resulted from these protests. In fact, rather than talking about these important issues and working together to help solve a vital problem in our country, we spend our time scrutinizing these athletes for disrespecting the flag.

The national anthem and flag symbolize many things to Americans. They represent hope, freedom, and the opportunity for a better life. The national anthem is played at sporting events of all levels to help remind us of these core American values. Furthermore, it reminds us of the brave men and women who sacrifice their lives for these liberties. So when athletes take a knee during the anthem, people are going to take offense to it.

For me, the national anthem represents a time of reflection of what America has given my family and me. I can go to church on a Sunday morning and not worry about practicing my religion. I am heard on Election Day when I walk in a voting ballot. If I am upset with how our government is being run, I have the right to peacefully voice my displeasure, much like these professional athletes.

I am not saying that these athletes do not have the right to protest during the national anthem. I am also not saying that the cause that they are protesting is not worth fighting for. In all honesty, racial inequality is an issue all Americans should resent no matter what race they are. African Americans should not be the only ones demonstrating their umbrage and disapproval. It requires people of all walks of life to see everyone as equal. We need to put aside our biases and tendencies for the better of this country.

And in order for that to happen, professional athletes need to find a new way of protesting. People are spending more time talking about the national anthem rather than the issues that they’re protesting about. Awareness of your audience is crucial for the effectiveness of any protest that you’re trying to conduct. There has to be a certain level of respect for both sides of the issue so a solution can occur. If there isn’t, the other side of a debate will never see any potential flaws.

The way I see it, professional athletes need to take a more active role in their respective communities. They need to go to police stations and speak to officers about solutions to police brutality. They should visit schools and city hall meetings to help spark discussions about how to solve racism in their city. An issue like racial inequality requires a lot more than taking a knee.

Are athletes wrong in kneeling before the game? No. But taking a knee during the anthem only increases tensions and continues to offend more people which takes the focus away from the true point of protesting. If professional athletes continue to do this, no progress will be made anytime soon.