by: Carter Caldwell
In the wide world of politics, sports, entertainment, occupations, business, and countless other fields, the idea of any of them mixing is absurd, right? Apparently not, as evidenced by the ongoing situation regarding President Trump’s hearty disapproval of the recent athletes who have opted to kneel during the playing of the US National Anthem at their sporting events, especially in the NFL.
The protests began when Colin Kaepernick, then-quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, decided to sit during the playing of the National Anthem at the start of the 2016 NFL preseason. Other athletes gradually joined Kaepernick, starting with 11 others joining him in Week 1 of the 2016 season and currently who has since become a free agent, and climaxing with over 200 participants during Week 3 of the 2017 season, mere days after President Trump demanded the removal of an and all protesters from their organizations. The President, and others, have referred to the protests as ‘disrespectful’ to those who have served in the military as well as in the police force.
Kaepernick began his protests in response to what he perceived to be police brutality, which came to his attention via the Black Lives Matter Movement. Following Trump’s comments, the protest has become more of a reaction to the controversial President than its original commentary on racial inequality. The protest has also spread to other sports and even other countries with German soccer club Hertha BSC supporting Kaepernick, as well as college, high school, WNBA, NHL, and MLB athletes have taken part in some form of the protests, on top of two members of the House of Representatives.
The protests have proven to polarize political figures, entertainers, and companies alike. In the business world, Ford, Nike, and Under Armour have expressed support for the movement, while other companies have dropped sponsorship for athletes who have taken part in the protest. Several entertainers, including John Legend and Stevie Wonder, have incorporated some aspect of kneeling into their own shows, bringing the issue onto a much larger platform, and influential figures such as Barack Obama and Ruth Bader Ginsburg have commented as well, with the former President calling the issues “legitimate” while the Justice referring to the protests as “dumb.”