The NFL season has been a roller coaster of emotions for many. There has been anger, joy, sadness and frustration across the board for fans of the game. Along with the range of emotions, different factions of fans have begun to show up. Some fans are boycotting the game, allowing social media to be their only window into what is going on in the NFL. These are the fans that have supported the NFL protesters and Colin Kaepernick. Other fans that are still watching despite what is going. Those groups are there but there is another group that has also rose to oppose the NFL protesters. The counter protesters have had a strong reaction to everything that has happened since that faithful day last season when then San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first sat than kneeled for the anthem in Levi’s Stadium. Since that day, counter protesters have been calling for him to be fired and threatening to go away from the NFL (some did but some like making idle threats on social media). Heading into this year, the counter protesters have not been quite as loud. Some of that is because Colin Kaepernick is unemployed honestly. Well, after the words of Donald Trump on Friday night in Alabama, those counter protesters got revved back up again. As NFL teams and players across the league were taking a knee, not standing or sitting in the locker room in response to Donald Trump’s comments (everyone has heard his comments by now), those fans that did not like what they were seeing and began booing and posting on social media how they were not watching the NFL again and how they should fire those that kneeled or discipline them. To those counter protesters who were mad about the protests that were happening, I just want to take a minute of your time and discuss some thing that I have heard you say.
The anger of counter protesters has been documented all over social media. Heck, we even had social media tell us about a stadium employee that took off his Bills gear after their anthem protest and left the stadium, quitting on the spot. The thing that so many counter protesters hate is the way the protest is being done. They say that it should be done this way or that way or the other. Well, did any of these counter protesters bother to look up what a protest is designed for? A protest is actually designed to make people feel uncomfortable and to draw attention to an issue. After Colin first did it, he drew everyone in and spit out his message loud and clear what he was protesting for. He was protesting for the inequalities in America for people of color and police brutality. Many people heard what he was saying and supported his cause, but there were so many that were still hung up on a piece of cloth called the America flag. The counter protesters bashed Colin for his stance, saying that he was disrespecting the soldiers that died for this country and that he was in-American and also there were plenty social media gangsters that told him that he should leave the country if he is unhappy with America. Well, to those that said that, did you forget that soldiers died for the right to have freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of expression? The NFL has no rule against people expressing themselves in any way during the anthem. You may not like it, but people can do so and that is their right as American citizens to do so. If you are asking them to do something because you like it, then you are trying to dictate to them and last I checked, this is the land of the free and the home of the brave not the land of the told and if you don’t then we scold.
Not all the counter protesters have been the same in scolding Kaepernick and others that have protested, but there have been some of them that have stepped out there and said this statement, “The way these protesters could show unity is to stand for the anthem amongst their teammates.” Well, let’s check how that has been going. People have been standing for the National Anthem for years and years and some of the problems of inequalities and discrimination are still here and in some parts of the country have not gotten any better. Standing and following the status quo has not done anything there and probably will not do anything there. The very statement of those that want to say standing would unify people makes me want to wonder one thing about some counter protesters: Do you believe in insanity? I know there are counter protesters that are scratching their heads when I said that, so let me break it down for you. Insanity is not just something that you can associate with someone that is crazy. Insanity is doing something over and over expecting a different result. By suggesting that by doing the same thing of standing for the National Anthem over and over again would somehow unify people when it hasn’t unified everyone yet is the very definition of insanity. So if by trying something different to try and make America better is the way someone tries to, respect it. You may not like it, but it is their right to do so.
So many counter protesters have been talking relentlessly that they have not taken the time to actually listen to what has been said in regards to why the protests started. Listening is a skill that some, if not many of them, lack at this point. I would challenge all counter protesters to actually listen to guys like Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, listen to what Colin originally said when he started his protest and listen to Anquan Boldin, who quit the NFL because he wanted to start helping people and wanted criminal justice system reform. After you listen to them, then maybe you will have a little bit more of an understanding and maybe some empathy for what is going on in their worlds and what many that look like me have experienced. Also, maybe you will understand the reasoning behind the kneeling and the need to bring attention to issues going on in the America that they may not see.
The General Mike Patton is an up-and-coming writer from Nashville, TN who brings a fresh and non-biased opinion about sports. From his radio experience in Nashville to his time as a sports writer for Free’s World, the website for radio personality and former co-host of BET’s 106 and Park Free (www.freesworld.com), The General is definitely one you want to get to know in the sports world. You can catch his work on SPORTSAWAKENING.COM. Mike grew up rooting for the San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bulls, and Chicago Cubs and remains a passionate sports fan who expresses intelligent opinions.