Staff Editorial: Athletics present opportunity for social and political unity


Isaac Richert

Royals football players kneel during the National Anthem. Kneeling during the National Anthem and not standing for the Pledge of Allegiance have become widespread phenomena at HHS and in the nation.

Over the past year, many people have questioned the motives behind athletes kneeling during the National Anthem. The majority of Americans hold different beliefs in regards to kneeling, though one thing is certain: this issue has definitely caused controversies.

The trend began when ex-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to kneel during the National Anthem. Soon after, many players followed in Kaepernick’s footsteps.

On Sept. 23, President Donald Trump spoke at a rally for Luther Strange, the Republican candidate for senator in Alabama, and said “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!’”

In the weeks after the tweet was published, many professional, and even high school athletes decided to protest in response to the tweet.

Even though this issue has been controversial, not many people have thought about the fact that sports have recently been used as a way for our country to come together and address different political and cultural issues.

We believe that sports, in general, can be an influential tool to unify our country. Whether it is through competition or even protesting, sports can be a vehicle to bring fans and athletes together.

No matter how famous the athlete is, there is always an opportunity for them to make a difference. In the NFL, that means players should use their position and celebrity status to effect positive change, like visiting students in hospitals or working with young athletes in their sport.

Additionally, owners and presidents of the NFL have decided to speak out on this matter according to NPR. For example, Arizona Cardinals team President Michael Bidwill said that sports are something that has always united Americans.

Buffalo Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula said, “President Trump’s remarks were divisive and disrespectful to the entire NFL community, but we tried to use them as an opportunity to further unify our team and our organization.”

Instead of our country just focusing controversial political issue, it would be impactful to think about how our professional sports teams have come together to unify the country regardless of beliefs.

Although kneeling during the National Anthem is a large issue, the main reason why athletes are choosing to participate in protesting is that, in the past, they have experienced or know somebody who has experienced racism or injustice.

At HHS, it means that we are giving students the opportunity to express and support a cause. Whether or not every student at HHS believes that kneeling is the correct way to protest, we believed that students should be able to find a group that supports them–including athletics.

Many teams create a strong bond among teammates while spending every day with their them for eight weeks. Teams often become the students’ second family.

Even at HHS, we see student-athletes kneeling. The thing we should pay attention to is that they are a group that unites us as a school, and their efforts to effect social change should be applauded.