#TakingAKnee: Valencia College students weigh in


Colin Kaepernick , then of the San Francisco 49ers, takes a knee during the national anthem.

Jade Nunez Soares and Rebecca Newman

On Aug. 26, 2016 after a 21-10 loss to the San Diego Chargers, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick released in an exclusive interview with Steve Wyche, a reporter for NFL.com, on the reasons behind why he sat out during the national anthem for his first three preseason games.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL media. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

On Sept. 1, 2016 Kaepernick took his peaceful protest one step further as he took a knee during the national anthem and was joined by teammate Eric Reid. On the same day, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane, sat out the anthem, showing support to Kaepernick’s cause as well.

In the following two-week span, a number of professional athletes such as Seattle Reign FC midfielder Meagan Rapinoe, former New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall, the entire Indiana Fever team, and members of the Houston Rockets, New York Knicks and Boston Celtics to name a few, all joined the protest, whether they chose to stand, hold hands or take a knee during the anthem.

“I thought it was excellent to show unity among athletes in all sports of America.” Jordan Peoples a sophomore at Valencia College shared. “I would love to continue to see the unity as well as these athletes impact their respective communities in our country.”

The rapid increase of supporters was simultaneously accompanied by a series of positive and negative feedback by people anywhere from sports fans, to reporters and even politicians. While some acknowledged the protest as a positive move towards an equal society, others strongly opposed to it, claiming it disrespects the national flag, what it stands for, and those who bravely fought for this country.

On Friday Sept. 22, 2017, one year later, President Donald Trump addressed the issue during his speech for Republican Senatorial candidate, Luther Strange, at a rally in Alabama.  Trump expressed discontent to see the protest carry into the current 2017 NFL season.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!” Trump said.

Trump’s statement  brought the protest back into the spotlight.

“I can see how taking a knee during the national anthem may be offensive to some people who have family in the army, but the reason behind it is the right one,” Cristian Montantez, a Valencia College sophomore shared with the Voice on why he doesn’t agree with the president’s statement. “I don’t think anyone should get fired, all of the stuff president Trump has said sounds unprofessional and is just starting controversy, as he always does. I don’t like how he is putting so much focus on that, when there are other major problems that need to be accessed.”

“I believe people have the right to say and do what they want; you’re not legally wrong, but Donald Trump is right,” Jonathan Foley, a Valencia College sophomore said. “He is right that it is disrespectful. There may be no need to fire them (the NFL players), but I think he’s right.”

Recently, Stephen A. Smith, anchor of ESPN’s most watched show, First Take, brought to light perhaps a crucial fact, when it comes to understanding the relationship between the NFL and the national anthem.

“It wasn’t until 2009.  Players remained inside the locker-room as the anthem played. The players were only moved out to the field for the anthem, as a marketing strategy to make players look more patriotic,” Smith said. “The United States Department of defense paid the National Football League $5.4 million between 2011 to 2014 and the National Guard payed $6.7 million between 2013-2015 to stage on field patriotic ceremonies as part of the military recruitment budget.”

In midst of such a controversial subject, many military veterans have also made an effort to weigh in and speak on how this situation personally affects them.

“My personal opinion as a veteran is you do feel much appreciated when people say thank you for your services and all that, it doesn’t ever go unrecognized, and I feel like a lot of people these days in America have really fallen away from that, and don’t really realize what some veterans do,” former Marine Corps and Valencia College VA work-study representative David Gilberti said. “I think being a good patriot of America the least you can do is stand for your flag, put your hand on your heart and sing the national anthem.”

This is definitely a topic to watch this 2017 NFL season.  Will players continue the protest?  Will fans push back?  Will the NFL establish rules regarding national anthem protocol.  All of that remains to be seen.

And the Valencia Voice wants to hear your comments, opinions and concerns. Make sure to participate in our poll below or leave any comments regarding the subject.

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.