The NFL Just Knee-Jerked

Sports fan or not, this week in May has got to stir up something inside of you.

Just recently, the NFL (National Football League) in America just passed a new rule for this fall’s season in regards to players kneeling instead of standing for the national anthem. This decision comes after months of arguments, debates, and proposals.

Whether or not you like sports—or more specifically, American football—should be immaterial.

Whether or not you agree with the players protesting in this fashion (or at all) should also be immaterial.

You as a fan (and American) should be able to vocally support or oppose the “kneelers.” Be loud, if you’d like. Please, be my guest!

But don’t make rules prohibiting it. This is dangerous territory.

Let me illustrate:

A few years ago, the Westboro Baptist Church were involved in a court case. Yes, I’m referring to the hateful church family in Kansas that travels around with florescent signs of hell-fire phrases that pretty much condemn everyone—even America itself.

This group was fighting a First Amendment case on the grounds of free speech, freedom of religious expression, and freedom to assemble. Most people were against the racist, homophobic, and condemning words that Westboro use and yell at people, including mourners at military funerals.

There are few groups as devoid of morale as this fringe group, Westboro Baptist Church, and emotionally I wanted to knee-jerk and hope for a ruling to silence this group. I detest this hateful, mean group of so-called Christians that spend most of their time telling others that they were going to be tortured for all of time and that in fact God hates them. To hell with this group. I wish they’d shut the hell up. Most I assume would agree.

But in this great land of freedom and liberty, I had to fight back my emotions. I had to swallow my anger and disaapointment with this group, and actually had to side with hoping they’d actually win their First Amendment case.

Not for their sake … but for all of ours.

Freedom to gather and speak our minds, no matter who we offend, and no matter what can result from it.

As I began this essay, you and I can be on opposite ends of the view on American football players kneeling for the national anthem. You and I can have different opinions on the verses within that song (read the unsung lines). You and I can differ on our stances towards what skin color people are born and whether or not they deserve the treatment that is often given to them by law enforcement (this is one of the reasons they kneel). And you and I can argue whether or not the NFL—in the event of a mass rebellion aginst the no kneeling rule—can handle such a large group of minorities and white allies walking out or being kicked off the field.

It can be interesting, whether or not you’re into sports and football.

I implore everyone to be against this decision of the NFL. Telling people how to posture themselves during a song or raising of a flag is treading dangerous waters. Compelled worship is scary. Forced nationalism is scary. Authoritarian allegiance is scary. We know in recent history that this cannot play out well.

And for an organization that oversees many teams that are skilled in making plays, I can only hope this snapback is a score for those players who only want three things we all want: Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

And as an American patriot, I will support others’ rights to do as they peaceably please, whether I agree with them or not.