UVA Football Players React to the Movement Colin Kaepernick has Started A. Ruby Nwaebube

What does the national anthem mean to you?

“Patriotism,” said Naji Abdullah, a Defensive End on the UVA Football team.

“Freedom, justice, and equality”, said UVA safety CJ Epps.

The National Anthem can, clearly, mean different things to different people. Those different interpretations have sparked immense public debate in light of action taken by one professional football player.

Courtesy: Sporting News
Courtesy: Sporting News

When San Francisco 49ers Quarterback, Colin Kaepernick decided to take knee during the National Anthem, he says he intended to start a conversation that needs to be had in this country– about racial injustice and police brutality.

There are many individuals that are accusing Kaepernick’s protest, and refusual to stand during the National Anthem, as Anti-American or Anti-Military. Some of these individuals are even suggesting that Kaepernick has no right to question the National Anthem, because he is “just” a football player. Yet others argue that if the National Anthem is meant to represent the sacrifice the military gives for Americans, then there should be recognition that one of the very things veterans have risked their lives for is our right to freedom of speech. This, they argue, includes Kaepernick.

“For [Kaepernick], to take a knee during the national anthem to me is not him saying he doesn’t love his country. It’s that he’s disappointed on [the issues] that are occurring in [this] country”, said Epps.

To say that Kaepernick is “just” a football player is an understatement. Regardless of his agenda, by nature of his profession, Kaepernick has a huge platform that allows millions of viewers to hear his message. It is for this reason that he has gained a following. Several other professional athletes have knelt during the National Anthem in recent weeks in a show of solidarity. But there is uncertainty as to whether their efforts, or his, are effective.

“In certain ways this protest could be viewed as a good attraction; however, it can also be viewed as bad timing, since Kaepernick lost his starting position spot”, said defensive player, Naji Abdullah.

Even if the kneeling alone is not successful, Kaepernick intends to continue the dialogue. He said he plans on donating one million dollars to communities impacted by racial injustice and police brutality, because he wants everyone to understand that this protest is not just some trending hashtag or just a controversial moment in sports history.Therefore, the next time you stand for the National Anthem ask yourself are your rights truly being represented? If not, what are you going to do about it?


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