ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Should the NFL Allow Anthem Protests?

Updated on September 3, 2018
CJWood71 profile image

As an avid follower of political and social issues, Chris has developed strong insights into the world around him.

Members of the San Francisco 49ers kneeling during the National Anthem - 2017
Members of the San Francisco 49ers kneeling during the National Anthem - 2017 | Source

The NFL Anthem Debate

I honestly never planned to cover this issue, so much had already been said and I felt this was something that would not remain in the News cycle for very long. It seems I really misjudged that one.

One of the reasons I chose to stay out of the Anthem Debate was due to the controversial aspect of the whole thing. Now that we are two years into the story, I feel that it is time for me to weigh in with my opinion. After all, opening up about feelings and having dialogue is how we solve problems.

Why Are The Players Kneeling For The Anthem?

The National Anthem Protests began during the 2016 preseason, when San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to remain seated during the pre-game Anthem. Shortly afterwards, the story began doing the rounds on social media and news outlets picked up on the story.

The stated reasons behind Kaepernicks choice was to bring attention to the oppression of African-American citizens and the killing of unarmed African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement. Kaepernick wanted to give a voice to those who couldn't speak for themselves.

"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 said, via

After the first few pre-season games, several other players began kneeling during the Anthem, in support of Kaepernick's message. The movement continued to gain steam as the regular season began, on Sunday, September 11th, 2016, the anniversary of 9/11.

As the season progressed, the number of players kneeling for the Anthem continued to grow. Despite the continued insistence by the players that the protests were not anti-American, or anti-military, frustrations among fans and the general public also began to grow.

The Public Debate Grows

In September of 2017, President Trump sent out a series of tweets criticizing the protests and suggesting that the protesting the Anthem should be fired. This, of course, further intensified public debate and the different viewpoints became very polarized. Everybody had an opinion and there was no in-between. Also, the number of players taking part in the silent protests further inceased.

On the one side, you have those who support the Anthem Protests and feel that it is an important message that must be made. They make the argument that stopping the protests would be a violation of the player's First Amendment rights, another example of oppression against minorities.

On the other hand, you have those who feel that the protests are disrespectful to members of the military and law enforcement. These individuals feel that America is a great country that provides more freedom for all people, regardless of race, gender, or religion. They feel that the National Anthem is the wrong forum for these protests.

For the sake of keeping this hub from becoming too long, I am not going to go into detail on the merits of the protests themselves, I will leave that to others. Instead, I will focus on whether or not the protests should be allowed.

Are The Protests Protected by the First Amendment?

This is a viewpoint that is brought up quite often, but it is a tricky one to answer. Although the First Amendment does grant the rights of free speech and peaceful protest, we must remember that NFL players are employees, in uniforms and on the job. Most Americans are unable to take part in protests while on company time, being a professional athlete does not grant players special rights.

Members of the Oakland Raiders kneeling during the National Anthem.
Members of the Oakland Raiders kneeling during the National Anthem. | Source

During the first two seasons, the NFL (employer) allowed the protests to continue. The league offered support for the players using their platform to bring about social change, they stood behind the players. Although a few within the league criticized the kneeling players, the primary debate was taking place outside the league, among the fans and news media.

However, this was still not a First Amendment debate. The NFL was alright with the actions taken by the players and criticism of the kneeling did not amount to a violation of free speech. Still, this did not prevent some supporters of the protests from making such claims.

NFL Ratings Fall

The 2017 NFL season saw a decline in ratings. Some have made claims that the ratings drop was a backlash from fans upset about the Anthem Protests, while others cited various reasons for the decline. Although we may never know the cause and the league downplayed the significance, it certainly caught the attention of team owners.

During the off-season meetings following the 2017 season, team owners and league officials decided to require players to stand for the National Anthem. The new rules do allow players the option to remain in the locker room during the Anthem, which seems to indicate that the league is attempting to find a compromise between the Anthem Protests and the negative publicity.

At the end of the day, the NFL is in the entertainment business and without the fans, there is no league. Therefore, it is important that the league takes the concerns of the fans into consideration and finds a happy medium. Perhaps this could be accomplished by encouraging players to get more involved in the community.

In Conclusion

During the last two seasons, players kneeling for the Anthem has become a dominant storyline in the NFL. It is a mostly negative image that is hurting the league. Some will say that the protests are drawing attention to a serious problem in the African-American community, but fair or not, that is not the message the general public is receiving.

The Players should look for a more effective method of getting their message across. If they are truly concerned about the issues, then they must be concerned that the public is talking about disrespecting the flag, instead of the issues in the African-American community. Their protests are not bringing the desired results and their approach should be altered.

© 2018 Christopher J Wood


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)