Americans have First Amendment rights.
And, as defined by Cornell Law School, “The First Amendment guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition. It forbids Congress from both promoting one religion over others and also restricting an individual’s religious practices. It guarantees freedom of expression by prohibiting Congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely. It also guarantees the right of citizens to assemble peaceably and to petition their government.”
Thus, players of the National Football League can take a knee during the National Anthem and disrespect their flag and country.
Indeed, they have the right to do so.
But, that does not mean they are then immune from the consequences.
I know, many NFL players don’t really think about consequences all that often (especially those who get pulled over for DUIs, violently attack their girlfriend or wife). But they still happen, regardless of one’s consideration.
When you exercise your First Amendment right, others may not agree with you, and that is exactly what happened to the Baltimore Ravens.
According to The Daily Caller, almost all of the players on the Baltimore Ravens took a knee during the national anthem and they received quite the backlash from fans:
Thousands of fans were incensed that nearly all of the Ravens players knelt during the national anthem, displaying what they called a “gut-wrenching” lack of respect for the country and the flag.
Many fans said they would no longer support the team because of the protests.
“Introducing politics into today’s was the lowest behavior of any team. I’m no longer a Ravens fan after today,” one man wrote on the team’s Facebook page. “I will be notifying M&T Bank of my decision to pull out as well. If you don’t support my country, you & M&T Bank don’t deserve my support or my money either. Shame on you Baltimore Ravens!”
Others saw the demonstrations as a lack of respect for the team’s fans and the city of Baltimore.
“You all forget who you represent. Not just yourselves,” a woman posted. “You represent the ravens, Baltimore, and America. And you embarrassed yourselves and us today. You not only broke the unity of us as Americans today, I think you broke the unity between Ravens players and Ravens fans.”
And here is an incredibly important point: the Ravens, along with many others in the NFL, have forgotten who they represent.
In their scurry to hop on the attention train in hopes of becoming the next Malcolm X football edition, they have lost sight of the big picture.
The question is not whether there are problems in the United States.
The question is whether kneeling during the national anthem is appropriate, or if that solves anything; if that actually disrespects the fans, society, and country who have afforded you this opportunity.
Timeliness and target are both important. Why are they doing this at this particular moment (during the game) and why must the target be the flag, the anthem?
Exercise whatever rights you’d like, but also know that actions sometimes have consequences. They can choose to take a knee, and we can choose to take a walk.
Have you contributed to this backlash? Are you no longer watching a particular team?