Take on a Knee

We’re “too sensitive,” they said. They claim that we are “too easily offended,” and they call us “snowflakes.” They throw around phrases like “politically correctness” as if it’s an insult. But as soon as adult men decide to peacefully protest, something they view as injustices against Americans, “they” become the most offended. These are people, many adults, whom cheer for, or against, based on the colors of their clothes and the logo’s on the uniform of men who are literally playing a game.

It doesn’t matter, that until 2009, NFL players went to their respective locker rooms during the National Anthem. No one even noticed to question if they should be offended. And for over 20 years, here in Kansas City, Chief fans have changed the words of the anthem, so that it ends with “home of the Chiefs” in place of “home of the brave.” It’s become so popular here, that you often hear it at other local sporting events like Royals and KU basketball games. Which, in my opinion is both at least horrible offensive to the Royals and Jayhawks. But last year, in the wake of the Colin Kaepernick controversy, when local news station, KSHB, did a story on the anthem at Chiefs games, fans sang an interesting tune.

“I think Colin Kaepernick is a coward,” said Chiefs fan Zeke Montana. “The people who say ‘Chiefs’ at the end are not making some kind of a statement. They’re just having fun.”

And the father of two active serviceman, Tim Oarmen said, “Home of the Chiefs is a local tradition. It’s not done everywhere. My boys are fighting for the freedom for Colin Kaepernick to [sit.] That’s why I have to say I respect his decision. I don’t have to agree with it.”

I’ve learned that Chief fans aren’t alone, in their Star Spangled remix. Baltimore Oriole fans hit the ‘Oh’ with a little extra emphasis. Houston Rocket fans stress ‘Rockets red glare.’ And still, no one seems to be deeply offended by this obvious disrespectful behavior, because they don’t mean anything by it. It’s okay to play with the anthem, just don’t try and use it to make a difference.

All of this makes zero damn sense. What is so offensive about someone quietly sitting or kneeling during a song? When the tens of millions of people, who are watching the game at home, are only getting up from the couch to get snacks or use a restroom. And then this morning, it dawned on me, why do they even play the anthem before sporting events?

Consider the situations where the anthem is NOT played: concerts, movies, plays, television shows, Presidential press conferences, at your office, church, synagogue, mosque, or at the start of video games. Fox News doesn’t play it at the start of every show, or any show, and you won’t find a more patriotic group of Americans. Just ask them.

If you read the history, of how the anthem became a staple at sporting events, you’ll learn that it didn’t really grow out of patriotism. Instead it grew for the most American of reasons, it was good public relations. Which is why, in 2009, the NFL began to require that players be on the sidelines for the anthem. And now patriotism is big business. A 2015 Congressional report, stated that the Department of Defense, paid $5.4M between 2011 and 2014 to NFL teams, to stage on-field patriotic ceremonies. And the National Guard paid out $6.7M between 2013 and 2015. (http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/sports_nut/2016/09/colin_kaepernick_s_protest_is_working.html)

If you find a way to protest something, and it doesn’t offend anyone, you’ve found the least effective protest ever. Kapernick’s protest hasn’t failed because he hasn’t yet found a job in the NFL, if anything that makes it more successful. Offering to make a great sacrifice is one thing, but actually making that sacrifice is something different. There was a former carpenter in northern Israel, whose alleged sacrifice gave everything he stood for a following of billions.

Taking a knee shouldn’t be what offends you. The fact that billionaires are getting millions, to make you feel that this is patriotism, is what we should be offended by.