Our own history shows why the NFL's new anthem policy is incredibly unpatriotic.

The decision comes on the heels of months of debate on who gets the right to protest, and where.

Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images.

Some pretty unreal news is sweeping the sports world.

NFL owners approved a national anthem policy that requires players to stand on the football field during the national anthem.  

According to officials, the policy was a unanimous decision from NFL owners.  


The policy requires players to stand on the field, but allows them to remain in the locker room during the anthem if they so choose. Should players kneel during the anthem, their team will be fined.

The law, which is a pretty blatant infringement on the First Amendment right to protest or peacefully assemble, was met with outrage from celebrities, academics, and citizens around the country.

The decision comes on the heels of months of debate on who gets the right to protest, and where.

When former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 after multiple unarmed black men were shot and killed by police officers, league owners were enraged. His peaceful, silent protest against police brutality spurred outrage from mostly white NFL fans.

Photo by  Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images.

In spite of pushback from audiences, the NFL protests continued to gain traction as predominate black players from teams like the Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs, and Denver Broncos joined in the protest in their own ways. And they weren't the only ones.  

Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images.

NBA star LeBron James wore an "I Can't Breathe" back in 2014, and WNBA players have peacefully stood against injustice for years, using their status as prominent athletes to raise awareness on important issues.

NFL leaders attempted to reprimand the players through various tactics — perhaps most notably blackballing Kaepernick — but players have continued to remain true to their rights as American citizens and the root of American values: standing up for what one believes is right. And some NFL leaders, like Jets owner Christopher Johnson, have already pledged to support players who continue to do so.

Yet, overall, the NFL has made it clear that this value is only a privilege of those deemed "worthy" of a right to protest, a reality black protestors across the U.S. are all too familiar with.

When Muhammad Ali protested the Vietnam War by refusing to enlist, his boxing license was suspended in New York the same day, along with his champion title. When Olympic athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos protested America's treatment of black Americans in the 1960s by raising their fists on the Olympic podium, they were stripped of their medals as white audiences spewed endless hatred. Perhaps most notably, Martin Luther King Jr.'s unwavering commitment to peaceful protest led to endless character attacks from the government, unwarranted stints in jail, and ultimately, his assassination.    

Time and time again, black leaders, athletes, celebrities, and other visible faces speak up in the face of injustice, only to be put in a ludicrous box of criminality by white Americans. Decades after they speak up, our country turns them into martyrs, chanting about the grandness of their fearlessness, and framing them as heroes in elementary school classrooms.

But black people deserve that support more so much earlier on.

For years, America has had to relearn the hard lesson of actually living by the laws it claims to uphold, instead of only allowing the freedom of speech and right to protest to apply to people who are deemed "respectable" by those in power. But this nation doesn't have to be like this.

Photo by Drew AngererGetty Images.

The NFL can be a a league that abides by our nation's inherent laws and ethics of freedom of speech and assembly by ensuring that those apply to everyone on the field.

They can listen to what black people are saying when they declare that black lives matter. They can pay attention to the reasons behind football players' protest, and they can uplift athletes who are using their power for good now instead of making them heroes when it's too late. And we can help them do it.

We can be better as sports fans, as current events commentators, and as Americans by allowing citizens of color to protest in their own, peaceful ways.

We have to. Our nation's soul depends on it.

Most Shared

Andy Grammer, the pop singer and songwriter behind feel-good tunes like "Keep Your Head Up," "Back Home," and "Don't Give Up on Me," has a new album out—and it is seriously fabulous. Titled simply "Naive," Grammer says it's "all about how seeing the good in todays world can feel like a rebellious act."

"I wrote this album for the light bringers," Grammer shared on Facebook. "The people who choose to see the good even in the overwhelming chaos of the bad. The smilers who fight brick by brick to build an authentic smile everyday, even when it seems like an impossible thing to do. For those who have been marginalized as 'sweet' or 'cute' or 'less powerful' for being overly positive. To me optimism is a war to be fought, possibly the most important one. If I am speaking to you and you are relating to it then know I made this album for you. You are my tribe. I love you and I hope it serves you. Don't let the world turn down your shine, we all so badly need it."

Reading that, it's easy to think maybe he really is naive, but Grammer's positivity isn't due to nothing difficult ever happening in his life. His mom, Kathy, died of breast cancer when Grammer was 25. He and his mother were very close, and her life and death had a huge impact on him.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
via Stratford Festival / Twitter

Service dogs are invaluable to their owners because they are able to help in so many different ways.

They're trained to retrieve dropped Items, open and close doors, help their owners remove their clothes, transport medications, navigate busy areas such as airports, provide visual assistance, and even give psychological help.

The service dog trainers at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs in Canada want those who require service dogs to live the fullest life possible, so they're training dogs on how to attend a theatrical performance.

The adorable photos of the dogs made their way to social media where they quickly went viral.

On August 15, a dozen dogs from Golden Retrievers to poodles, were treated to a performance of "Billy Elliott" at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada. This was a special "relaxed performance" featuring quieter sound effects and lighting, designed for those with sensory issues.

RELATED: This service dog and veteran are raising awareness for PTSD in inspiring ways

"It's important to prepare the dogs for any activity the handler may like to attend," Laura Mackenzie, owner and head trainer at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs, told CBC.

"The theater gives us the opportunity to expose the dogs to different stimuli such as lights, loud noises, and movement of varying degrees," she continued. "The dogs must remain relaxed in tight quarters for an extended period of time."

The dogs got to enjoy the show from their own seats and took a break with everyone else during intermission. They were able to familiarize themselves with the theater experience so they know how to navigate through crowds and fit into tight bathroom stalls.

via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter

"About a dozen dogs came to our relaxed performance, and they were all extremely well-behaved," says Stratford Festival spokesperson Ann Swerdfager. "I was in the lobby when they came in, then they took their seats, then got out of their seats at intermission and went back — all of the things we learn as humans when we start going to the theater."

RELATED: This sneaky guide dog is too pure for this world. A hilarious video proves it.

The dogs' great performance at the trial run means that people who require service animals can have the freedom to enjoy special experiences like going to the theater.

"It's wonderful that going to the theater is considered one of the things that you want to train a service dog for, rather than thinking that theater is out of reach for people who require a service animal, because it isn't," Swerdfager said.

The Stratford Festival runs through Nov. 10 and features productions of "The Merry Wives of Windsor," "The Neverending Story," "Othello," "Billy Elliot," "Little Shop of Horrors," "The Crucible" and more.

Inclusivity

Graphic helps identify what triggers you emotionally in relationships

Knowing your triggers helps you manage your emotions.

via Blessing Manifesting / Instagram

Learning your emotional triggers on your own is one thing but figuring out your triggers in a relationship adds another layer of intensity. Maybe you're afraid of being abandoned or want to feel the need to push the other person away but you don't know why.

If this sounds familiar, you're not alone. It's why artist and mental health advocate Dominee Wyrick created a graphic to help you identify what triggers you in relationships.

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being

15 'habits' of people who grew up with an 'emotionally fragile' parent

Having an emotionally fragile parent can leave lasting damage.

via The Mighty

If you grew up with an "emotionally fragile" parent, chances are, you didn't have the typical, idyllic childhood you often see in movies.

Maybe your parent lived with debilitating depression that thrust you into the role of caregiver from a very young age.

Maybe your parent was always teetering on the edge of absolute rage, so you learned to tiptoe around them to avoid an explosion. Or maybe your parent went through a divorce or separation, and leaned on you for more emotional support than was appropriate to expect of a child.

Keep Reading Show less
Family