GRAPHIC BY YING YANG
Yet again, Americans find politics and sports “standing” in the same field of thought.
The issue of athletes disrespecting America by kneeling during the national anthem has quickly escalated to include many patriotic veterans, which inevitably enlarges this controversy. As a result, veterans are fighting for an advertisement to encourage everyone to “Please Stand” for the national anthem during the Super Bowl on Feb. 4.
However, because the kneeling football players did not originally intend to send a message of political disrespect, but rather a call to action for society, the National Football League (NFL) refused to advertise the requested statement. Veterans were furious and intensified problems over a recent dispute by publicizing the rejection.
Since President Donald Trump made comments about the players who kneel in protest during the national anthem in September, the topic has loomed over NFL teams, which triggered unending arguments between the two. Many teams are expressing their own forms of protest toward Trump’s statements, rather than toward the country’s divide over race. Politically-affiliated officials such as Trump should avoid getting involved in altercations with sports teams, because it creates unnecessary tension and steers both groups away from the focuses of their professions.
Although Trump has indeed gained supporters for his cause, this may not be beneficial in the long run. Having more people criticizing and glaring at the players’ every move will only thicken tensions among the audience, resulting in more hostility between the public and team members.
Since the arguments over the NFL’s kneeling, politics has often swerved off its path, decreasing the level of productivity in the government. For instance, as President, Trump should be deeply concerned with political developments and national tragedies, such as the hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida. However, it was obvious that, with the anthem arguments in mind, Trump felt that there were better things on his agenda. In fact, Trump tweeted about the anthem controversy eight more times than he tweeted about Puerto Rico. Also, in the month of October alone, he sent 37 tweets regarding his dismay over the anthem controversy, revealing his true priorities.
On the other hand, NFL teams and players have also strayed from their focuses. After Trump’s attacks on the teams, many of them spent large amounts of time brainstorming ways to protest Trump. For instance, several teams, such as the Philadelphia Eagles, Jacksonville Jaguars and Minnesota Vikings have taken measures to go against Trump’s beliefs. Owners would protest by kneeling while raising their fists during the national anthem or stand with their players to demonstrate unity—something teams initially advocated for. Thus, in the time that these teams could have been practicing and preparing for upcoming games, they were instead conjuring up relatively unimportant ways to intensify the clash between the two sides.
Overall, the result of the recent clash between politics and sports has only been one in a series of similar conflicts. Tensions will continue to worsen and the relationships of the general public will be strained, which, ironically, contradicts Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.” In order to make America truly great, both politicians and NFL teams must see the detrimental effects of their bickering and avoid exaggerating problems for the good of the country.