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Should athletes kneel during the national anthem?
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Taking a knee is a powerful form of protest

When athletes take a knee right before a game, the action will be broadcasted to thousands of Americans around the country. This is an excellent opportunity for athletes to use their platform for good and use a small but profound action to inspire anger and change for the better.

The Argument

Colin Kaepernick kneeling on the field during the 2016 football season's pre-game anthems had much more widespread implications than the one game itself: it sparked a powerful movement of protest. The story became national news almost immediately, and since then, many other football stars have taken to kneeling before their games.[1] The Jacksonville Jaguars took a knee before their game against the Baltimore Ravens, the Eagles and the Giants both took a knee before their game against each other, and dozens of members of the Buffalo Broncos took a knee. Many of the biggest names in football, from Terry Bradshaw to Tom Brady, have joined in to voice their support for the movement all because of Kaepernick’s first action. During the protests in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, thousands of protestors around the country, inspired by Kaepernick’s actions from nearly four years ago, also joined in on taking a knee.[2] What all of this shows is just how influential and powerful football players could be. With millions of people watching the biggest NFL games, a football player is not just a part of one of the teams playing to win. They are a public figure whose opinions can bring actual change. Taking the knee was a powerful strategy for Kaepernick to bring attention to a pertinent issue. Today, when football is just as popular, taking a knee remains an important way for athletes to express their views. Without a doubt, police violence is a pressing issue facing America. As of October 2020, the police have already been responsible for the death of 861 Americans, with 28% of those being African Americans despite them only making up 13% of the population.[3] Kaepernick called attention to an important issue by kneeling.

Counter arguments

Taking a knee is an ineffective form of protest because it distracts the discussion away from the actual issue. In America, the flag and anthem are seen by most as symbols of pride that should be respected without exception. The fact that, after Kaepernick knelt, the majority of the discussion was not actually about the issue of police violence itself but about whether or not kneeling was legitimate should show that the discourse generated is not actually helpful to the movement. Kneeling serves as a distraction to the actual problems that African Americans face by making the otherwise popular cause of equality a controversial issue. Regardless of what Kaepernick and his subsequent supporters knelt for and whether they were un-American, most of the audience's initial reaction was one of shock and disapproval, not one of celebration and awareness. Public figures, from President Obama to Dabo Swinney, the head coach of Clemson University’s football team, have all come out to voice their disapproval of kneeling in front of an anthem that stands for peace, security, liberty, and so much more than just racist America.[4][5] Police brutality is a legitimate issue, but taking a knee is not the right way to talk about it.



[P1] Football has a big platform, which makes kneeling widely seen and very influential. [P2] Police brutality is a pressing issue.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] The controversial nature of kneeling itself distracts discourse away from the actual issue.


This page was last edited on Monday, 26 Oct 2020 at 00:49 UTC

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