Editorial: Trump called one a “son of a bitch”, we call them all “heroes”
“Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired.”
During an Alabama rally Friday night for republican senate candidate Luther Strange, President Donald J. Trump targeted the sports world, encouraging NFL owners to take action should a player kneel during the national anthem.
On Sunday, NFL owners and players across the nation engaged in moments of solidarity before the games. The protests ranged from players taking a knee and locking arms during the national anthem to teams choosing to remain in the locker room during the anthem.
The Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens were set to play the first game of the day at Wembley Stadium in London. But both teams quickly proved that they were there for more than just football — players began to stand in solidarity, locking arms during the anthem or taking a knee alongside their teammates. Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, joined his players on the field, linking arms with them. Khan, a Muslim, stood with his eyes closed and left fist clenched as the anthem played through the stadium. At this time Sunday morning, it was an unprecedented protest that would only grow larger as the day went on.
The Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers remained in their respective locker rooms while the national anthem played, avoiding having to make the choice of whether to stand or kneel.
President Trump is out of control. Never before has this country had a leader who would insult both athletes and their mothers in a public, profanity-laced tirade simply because the players exercised their first amendment rights in protesting inequality and police brutality.
On the surface, this past weekend appears to be a protest in defiance of President Trump’s rhetoric and actions that have divided the country. But the original inspiration for this movement was to address and bring awareness to the inequality, racism and police brutality that African-Americans and minority groups face every day in this country.
The systemic racism in the United States has been brought to a head in recent years with highly publicized, highly criticized police shootings of young African-American males such as those of Michael Brown, Alton Sterling and Philando Castille. These events have inflamed the country in a way as we have not seen since the Rodney King beating of 1992 in Los Angeles, and the subsequent trial when 12 white jurors acquitted three of the four indicted Caucasian police officers who had committed the crime on tape.
These players hope that by protesting on a national stage they might be able to increase social awareness on this issue.
On Saturday, President Trump took to Twitter to condemn Stephen Curry, the face of the Golden State Warriors, for expressing hesitation on whether or not to attend the traditional championship trip to the White House. The Warriors won the NBA Finals last spring. The team had begun plans to discuss a potential invitation to the White House, but the President’s tweets indicate that there will no longer be an invitation extended.
LeBron James, one of the biggest names in sports, quickly rallied behind Curry on Twitter, calling the President a “bum,” adding, “Going to the White House was a great honor until you showed up!”
James and Curry are not the first sports figures to use their platforms for political activism. Muhammed Ali, a famous boxer in the ‘60s and ‘70s, became a symbol for activism in sports when he cited his religious beliefs as reason not to support or involve himself in the Vietnam War. He stood up for what he believed in and helped inspire those who also believed we needed change at a time of crisis.
Colin Kaepernick, the NFL quarterback who was the first player to take a knee during the anthem in the 2016 season, is our generation’s Ali. He used his platform to bring awareness to an issue that directly affects one fifth of our country’s population. Disregard what everyone else says about him. Colin Kaepernick is a hero.
Now it’s up to us to follow the lead of these courageous athletes and do whatever it takes to end systemic racial inequality in our country and reform the system.
Editorials are developed by The Review staff, led this week by Investigative Editor Jacob Orledge who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.