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NFL players have no immunity from criticism


Amber McCollum is a sophomore at the University of Memphis. She grew up in Germantown, Tennessee, and attended Houston High School. Currently, she is pursuing a major in art education in order to be an art teacher one day. She is involved with the Baptist Collegiate Ministry and the U of M College Republicans.

Last weekend President Donald Trump criticized the players of the NFL who refused to stand during the playing of the National Anthem.

After his remarks certain members of these different NFL teams across the country began to take part in this form of protest. Most are taking part as a way of standing up against racial inequality and other related topics.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick was among one of the first players to remain seated instead of standing last season, and his actions were met with wild controversy. Trump’s recent tweets have definitely  brought this issue back to the surface.

This is an incredibly interesting dilemma because it covers not one, but two hot topics. One of which is free speech, and the other pertains to respect towards one’s country and those who have served defending it.

Foremost, one of the most prominent points to establish is that these NFL players possess every right to kneel or sit during the playing of the National Anthem.

They are not breaking any laws. They are not harming anyone. Taking into account the alternative, their peaceful protest will yield better results than if it were to be a violent one.

Despite this, these protesting NFL players are missing one very important aspect of what they are doing—one which should have been prepared for beforehand.

Exercising their First Amendment rights does not give them immunity from hearing criticism from those who don’t respect their actions.

There’s a fine line between criticizing whether or not someone has the right to do something and respecting the action in which they are actually partaking.

Being in the limelight, these NFL players need to approach the message they are sending with caution.

The idea of men who play a sport for a living openly disrespecting those who stand in the front lines of the United States military embodies a certain level of privilege.

One career takes a bit more of a toll than the other.

Whether or not that is their intention (for most of these players, it’s not), it has definitely become part of what they are conveying.

The image of a football player kneeling or sitting in a packed stadium surrounded by thousands of people standing with their hands over their hearts is powerful.

These players are not martyrs for their causes. They are politicizing a popular American pastime.

Directly or not, they are showing contempt towards those who have put everything on the line for the well- being of the United States.

This is not a decision many American citizens will be willing to stand behind, and quite frankly, that’s understandable.

The players taking part in this protest should be prepared for criticism because there are more appropriate places to take a political stance.

If they truly want to make a difference, their energy would be better spent donating money from their multimillion-dollar contracts to organizations that support their ideals.

Until then, these NFL players should discover a more effective way to make real change for their causes; not just awareness at the expense of those who fight to give them their very right to protest.

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