Opinion

Athletes should not let fear of retaliation sway their decision to kneel

Who would have ever thought that the President of the United States and the National Football League would be butting heads. It’s absolutely incredible what has happened in sports this past weekend. You scroll through Twitter seeing endless videos of football players, coaches and general managers joining in on the #TakeAKnee movement. Are they wrong? Or are they right?

I sat in my Gender and Women’s Studies class learning about the women’s suffrage movement and my professor asked the question, “How do you resist in a way so that people can hear you?” That question instantly brought to mind Colin Kaepernick. How does an athlete with a platform that reaches so many resist in a way that makes a statement and also makes his voice heard?

If athletes take a knee then they are slammed for disrespecting everyone who has sacrificed, or is currently sacrificing, for our Stars and Stripes. But if they remain quiet they are still slammed for having a platform and not taking advantage of it.

I read something on Twitter from user Katie Hubbard that shocked me. It read, “My husband died for your right to #TakeAKnee. He would have supported you; I support you. Sincerely, a military widow.” A widow whose husband made the ultimate sacrifice for his country is standing behind all the athletes who have decided to kneel during the National Anthem.

The largest opponent of this movement is undeniably President Trump. With a series of tweets and speeches he has made it clear he does not support anyone who kneels during the National Anthem. He has said, “Courageous Patriots have fought and died for our great American Flag...The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country…”

Many would disagree with the president and say that the movement is about race. It’s about the oppression of people of color and it’s about time action is taken. People will not stand behind a country or its national anthem if they feel that it does not respect them.

In order for your voice to be heard you sometimes need to take extraordinary measures. You can’t be passive with your complaints. If kneeling is the only way to get someone’s attention then kneeling it is.

If the athletes made a simple statement at a press conference before or after their game, do you really think people would be talking about the problem? I don’t think they would. They’ve tried that numerous times. If a press conference wasn’t going to change anything, then maybe a knee would.

I’m brought back to the question of how you resist in a way so that people can hear you. If it means being called out by the President of the United States, would you do it? This movement has several different sides. There are many who agree with the president and many who agree with the athletes.

I took this question to the streets of UW-Madison where I asked students about their opinions on this topic. I received similar reactions from most of the students: they agreed with the athletes’ decisions. One student said, “Donald Trump’s response is outlandish.” But another student who agreed with the President said, “Our President is just trying to bring respect back to our country.”

Whether it’s boycotting riding the bus, marching through the streets, or taking a knee during the playing of the National Anthem, resistance is resistance. There will always be someone who doesn’t agree with your form of protest. That’s why it’s called protest. It’s up to you if you will let what other people say stop you from standing your ground or if you will rise above in resistance.

Chelsea is a freshman intending to major in journalism and spanish. Do you support athlete’s kneeling during the national anthem? Send all questions, comments and concerns to opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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