Readers React

Each week, the Observer-Reporter asks Facebook friends to respond to a question about an issue in the news. This week, we asked, “What are your thoughts about the NFL’s new rule requiring players to ‘show respect for the flag’ and stand for the national anthem if they are on the sidelines or stay in the locker room?”

Sharon Laffey: Colin Kaepernick began his protest by sitting on the bench during the national anthem in August 2016. U.S. Army veteran, Green Beret and NFL player Nate Boyer convinced Kaepernick to kneel, rather than sit, while protesting police brutality during the national anthem. Kaepernick complied to be respectful while still expressing his concern for what he sees as mistreatment of people of color in this country, “I have great respect for the men and women that have fought for this country. I have family, I have friends that have gone and fought for this country. And they fight for freedom, they fight for the people, they fight for liberty and justice, for everyone. That’s not happening.”

Indeed one of the things that service members fight and have fought for is the right of Americans to express themselves within the constructs of the First Amendment. Being permitted to decide as an individual whether to stand or kneel or sit is what sets America apart from authoritarian regimes that dictate to their citizens what they are permitted to think, what they are permitted to say, and how they are permitted act. Are we such “snowflakes” that we think that not standing during the national anthem somehow undermines our democracy? It’s what makes our country the land of the free.

The NFL has made an arbitrary rule that will fine players for not standing during the national anthem. Will ticket takers stop patrons from entering during that time? Will concession stands stop selling at that time? Will everyone within earshot be required to stop and face the flag or be fined?

I suppose none of this should be a surprise in the surreal times in which we live. (President) Trump suggested that perhaps United States citizens should leave the country if they don’t stand for the national anthem. The fish rots from the head down. (Editor’s note, the commenter is a retired Navy chief)

Sierra McConnell: Remember when it was OK for Tim Tebow to kneel during the anthem because he was protesting abortion? I wonder what the difference is.

Josh Kichta: At this point who cares? The NFL is a joke anymore with or without the “protest.” I won’t watch anymore because (Roger) Goodell has made the league the laughingstock of professional sports. There is now more legal contact in MLB than the NFL. As for the protest the first time I saw Kaepernick sitting on the bench he didn’t look like he was protesting anything; he looked like he was acting like a baby because he was told to ride the pine. I still think the whole thing is B.S. that snowballed from him making up a story to cover for him acting like a child. Also this is old news; why even bring it up on Memorial Day of all days?

Loretta Richard Cobb: It’s about time ... they’re losing money or it would have never changed. Rateings are way down ... shows us as people standing to gather can change things.

Dean Phillippi Sr.: My thoughts: The shameful thing is that the NFL had to do “forced oatriotism,” and why, hey, NFL players, this is America?

Really, we are Americans, but we allow these NFL players to protest things on TV and during game events, when they should be doing their personal protests on their own time, personally!

Look, we understand their reasons to protest, and we tend to agree (in some cases), but don’t take the grandstand during the national anthem to protest, for our flag and our anthem that represents our proud country and the peace and joy that we have that veterans that served and died for to give us liberty and freedom!

Thank you, NFL, for hearing our voices and being patriotic, for those that are proud Americans, and for those that are proud veterans that proudly served our country.

Nicola DeThomas:Still not watching. All my NFL stuff is in a garbage bag ready to be thrown in the trash if any player kneels.

Wendy Johnson: I want to see someone write a story looking deeper into the players that are taking a knee. I know that many sports figures are out there doing many good deeds for children and people in need. I want to know what players are out there, working with law enforcement in troubled communities to alleviate the problem they are protesting.

Maryjo Ward: Yes, they should stand. Those who remain in the locker room must be suspended at least half the season.

Cathy Renninger Heinlein:Kneeling is the most respectful body position there is. Standing is not a sign of respect. This is a free country. I hope every single player will kneel from now on and refuse to pay any fines. I hope every member of the audience ALSO kneels to show respect.

Joel McNary: All the players should kneel. Every game.

Eric Clifford: It’s shameful they have to be TOLD to show respect for the flag. They should automatically do it.

Sherry Sacco: Disrespectful! So done with it all.

Pat Leonard: Free country, peaceful protest!

Eric Wade: What did 2 years of kneeling accomplish anyhow? I don’t care about the NFL anymore thanks to the idiots kneeling. Notice they don’t protest in the off-season. Hmm.

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