Four years have elapsed after San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee during the U.S. anthem in protest of economic injustice and excessive brutality of Black Americans. Protests by Kaepernick began during the pre-season of the 2016 NFL, when Barack Obama was still president. That year, many NFL players followed Kaepernick’s lead — some kneeling, others making a more defiant gesture by lifting a fist during the anthem, a la Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the Olympics in 1968. Taking a knee will be common in the next sports games.
Ironically, during the next season, when Kaepernick was out of the NFL, the campaign did not even catch on. On the Friday night of Week 3, President Donald Trump asked the audience at a rally in Alabama what he would like to see happened to kneeling players: “Wouldn’t you like to see one of these NFL owners, anytime someone disrespects our flag, yell ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, down, he’s gone. He’s fired!’ Trump screamed theatrically in what seemed to be a twist on his former reality-show catc.
Taking a Knee
Before the games kicked off that Sunday, hundreds of players — black and white — engaged the protesters in some form of protest or supportive signal. Some kneeled, some were sitting, some were raising a fist, some were staying in the locker room, some were linking arms with their colleagues. A few players — including Odell Beckham Jr., the superstar receiver. Even brought their protests into the game itself by raising a fist after scoring a touchdown.
The NFL protests have been the biggest topic in sports for some time. Everyone with any kind of platform appeared to have a strong opinion either for or against them. But, ultimately, everyone moved on — including most protesting players. Only a handful were still making an evident sign of protest during the anthem by the 2019 season. They were alone by the NFL, who had earlier attempted to force players on taking a knee. To sit in the locker room for the anthem. It hardly acknowledged the protests — if at all.
With the NHL and NBA both pausing until potentially earliest late July. Our next glimpse of North American athletes demonstrating during games could come from women’s football. The National Women’s Soccer League, located in the United States. It will become the first North American team sports league to play games since the pandemic struck. It’s going to start a one month tour in Utah on June 27. The NWSL features several members of the U.S. National Women’s Team, whose association of players released a statement Monday night demanding the U.S. Soccer repeals its regulation allowing players to be “respectful” while playing anthems during national team matches.