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Athletes Shamed for Exercising Their First Amendment Right

By Kimberly Elmann

NFL players take a knee and link arms during the national anthem in defiance of President Donald Trump’s tweets.

On Sunday, September 24, 2017, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to tweet his views on how the NFL (National Football League) should handle players that kneel during the national anthem. About two-hundred players and their owners responded to President Trump’s tweet, and it was not the response he was hoping to receive.

Trump tweeted, “If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!”

This tweet, along with many other tweets, expanded a movement that has been going on since last football season.

As football Sunday began, it started with the Baltimore Ravens, and Jacksonville Jaguars’ game broadcasted all the way in London, England. They began the response by kneeling together during the national anthem.

Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore Ravens take a knee and lock arms during the national anthem moments before their game in London, England. (Google Images)

Many teams followed that day by kneeling on the field and linking arms, even with their coaches and owners. One player from the Buffalo Bills, LeSean McCoy, did not stand or kneel but instead did warmups. Three teams stayed in their locker rooms during the national anthem: Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans, and Pittsburg Steelers.

Steelers player Alejandro Villanueva, a former Army Ranger, stood alone during the national anthem. However, in a news conference on Monday, Villanueva said that he accidentally ran too far and it was never part of the plan to be out on the field alone.

Although the players have many supporters, there are also a vast amount of people that are offended by the protest.

Before Monday night football took place, the Dallas Cowboys took a knee and then joined the Arizona Cardinals in locking arms during the national anthem. When the Cowboys took a knee, the stadium filled with the roaring sounds of ‘boos.’

People against the NFL protest, including Trump, argue that it is a disrespect to our country, flag, and military troops. Others supporting the players’ protest attest that it is to bring awareness of the injustices going on in our country. It is not saying anything negative about the military or the flag.

Colin Kaepernick, who is unemployed and a former quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, began the protest of kneeling during the national anthem last season. This new way of protesting had a domino effect on the players and fans.

The act of kneeling, or locking arms, during the national anthem, is another way for players to express their first amendment rights. Rights that the military troops fought for us Americans to acquire and use.

People are curious to see what will happen next in the NFL. What will the players do in the coming games? Will the people of America contribute to eliminating these injustices?

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