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Four things you probably didn't know about the national anthem protests

By CryptoWordsmith | Mixed Bag | 7 Aug 2020


On the day after the NFL announced that 67 players have decided to opt-out of the 2020 season, let's take some time to remember an event that occurred during the 2016 season that foreshadowed the current demonstrations across the US which are still taking place.

The US national anthem protests started when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to sit during the singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner". It's a polarizing issue, with many people opposed to the act of kneeling during the singing of the anthem. Here are 4 things you may not have known about the national anthem protests.

 

1. Flag ceremonies are relatively new to the NFL

The US military started paying the NFL in 2009 for flag ceremonies. Before that, it was fine for players to even be in locker rooms when the national anthem was sung. In 2015, Senator John McCain expressed concern when he brought up the contentious issue of American taxpayer dollars being spent on the NFL. 

Given the immense sacrifices made by our service members, it seems more appropriate that any organization with a genuine interest in honoring them, and deriving public credit as a result, should do so at its own expense and not at that of the American taxpayer, - Senator John McCain and the Senate Oversight Committee

The NFL even confirmed in 2016 the flag ceremonies began in 2009, adding,

As you know, the NFL has a long tradition of patriotism. Players are encouraged but not required to stand for the anthem, - Brian McCarthy, Vice President of Communications for the NFL, August 29, 2016

 

2. Why did Kaepernick kneel?

Kaepernick initially sat during the national anthem because he wanted to raise awareness of social injustice, especially the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police. I discovered it was Nate Boyer, the former Army Green Beret and NFL player, who suggested to Kaepernick that he kneel instead of sit.

I mean, I had to carry one of my best friends in a box draped with an American flag, so those symbols mean something very special to me. I wept when I heard that anthem that first time [the game in which Boyer played]. A year later, you know, Colin is sitting on the bench during the national anthem and explaining, you know, this is for, doing this to speak out on social injustice, police brutality, racial inequality, things like this. But my initial reaction was one of hurt just because of what those symbols meant to me.

So I wrote this open letter to the Army Times, went pretty viral. Colin read it and actually reached out and wanted to meet with me. So I met with him, before the final preseason game in 2016, just a couple of months before the election. And through our conversation, he asked if there was a difference that I thought he could demonstrate that wouldn't offend people in the military. I said, "No, but you know, no matter what you do, some people will be offended. But I think taking a knee from my perspective, my opinion is more respectful," - Nate Boyer, June 11, 2020

 

3. Kaepernick was not the first athlete to protest during the singing of The Star-Spangled Banner

More recently, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf also protested by sitting for the national anthem while he played in NBA in 1996.

 

4. The U.S. Flag Code?

For those who are not familiar, the United States Flag Code establishes advisory rules for display and care of the national flag of the United States of America. If any article or document was to be used to pass judgment against an individual kneeling for the US flag, this would be it.

A Twitter thread by veteran HennyWise (@koopa_kinte) brought attention to some very interesting parts of the code that most ordinary people have violated at least once in the past.

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He signed off by pointing out that there is no language of the Flag Code covers kneeling, and that the act in itself is not disrepectful. 

 

 

 

Thanks for reading!

Good luck, and stay safe!

 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Last edited August 7, 2020

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CryptoWordsmith
CryptoWordsmith

Author ⌨ • Host of Blockchain Chat podcast 🎧📻⛓ • Early beta tester for NBA Top Shot & for NFL All Day 🏈 • Nine Lives Lounge member 🏀 • If I commented on your P0x post then you got a "like" and 100% of the tip! Twitter: @CryptoWordsmith


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