The meeting was private. In attendance were a dozen muscular, well known millionaires. Their focus? How to use their fame and status to make a point. From their perspective, the police in America were out of control, shooting innocent, unarmed black men and boys. What can they do with their combined wealth and influence to solve this tragic problem?
Ideas were tossed back and forth until one of the men said, “I will refuse to stand when they play the National Anthem. This will call attention to this messed up situation in our country.”
At first he was alone as he knelt and bowed his head at the next game. The reaction was immediate and varied. Some called it stupid and irresponsible. Some thought it was a good idea. Then, as is always the case, more men joined in and refused to stand for the National Anthem. Now we have their attention, they thought. Now things will change. Did they? Unfortunately, the incidence of black men and boys dying at the hands of the police did not cease or diminish.
And the refusal to stand? The NFL has now decreed there will be no further kneeling football players during the National Anthem. If they plan to kneel, they must stay in the locker room while the anthem is playing. Then they shall come onto the field.
So what have those millionaire athletes accomplished by thumbing their noses at the American tradition of standing during the National Anthem? Well one consequence is they forced the owners to make the recalcitrant kneelers wait it out in the locker room during the National Anthem. After all, who cares about the anthem recognizing our country and its rich history; The country that has allowed these players to become wealthy and famous from doing what they enjoy doing?
My question to these role models is this: If you are actually concerned about increased violence and shooting deaths of black men and boys by police officers, what might you do about finding a solution? You have fame and wealth, people listen to you and you can afford to support a group or study aimed at discovering a solution. Wouldn’t that be more worthwhile than kneeling during the National Anthem?