Patriotism or Pride.

Protests have been a way to cause change over the years and recently in the past few years certain protests have been carried out due to the adversity towards POC. Police brutality, murders, slavery, segregation,etc. These events have been dividing America daily and our president is one of the causes. Athletic teams like the NFL have recently been protesting in the form of kneeling and the soccer community is slowly joining the campaign.

“It is a protest towards the flag, not towards Trump, not towards America as a whole.” That’s what we hear from people like Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Jerry Jones believes sitting, kneeling, and/or staying in the locker room during the national anthem is showing disrespect and dishonor to our flag and everyone that’s given up something for it.

Wrong. “One nation, under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”. These words of our nation’s’ pledge reassure us citizens of what America has to offer. These words of the pledge emphasize “liberty and justice for all” while after all these years POC are still experiencing the opposite of what that pledge stands for. The same goes for the anthem that claims America is “the land of the free and the home of the brave”; not everyone is getting access to this so-called freedom that’s what is enforcing these recent protests.

By now everyone knows that NFL players have been taking a knee during the national anthem at their games. Colin Kaepernick, an American football quarterback, was the first to start this movement last year during one of his games. Kaepernick chose to sit during this game in 2016 because he claimed he would not be standing up to “show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” Kaepernick’s reason behind the term oppression is encouraged by the fact that “bodies are literally laying in the streets, murdered and the criminals are getting away with it.” he quotes. As the NFL players have taken part in the movement, soccer players ranging from high school varsity teams to national teams have also started to partake in this campaign.

Athletes from South Eugene high school in Oregon took a knee before their soccer game and sparked controversy through their community. As Alisha Roemeling writes for the South Eugene Register-Guard, people in the community claimed the athletes were being unpatriotic and the other half of the community supported their movement and believed they were doing the right thing by expressing their opinions. The high school’s principal believes that the athletes taking a knee during their soccer game is an expression of their first amendment right. Roemeling, quotes South Eugene high school’s principal Andy Dey on his opinion towards the athletes protests, “Peaceful protests have been a part of the fabric of the United States of America since the inception of this country, People say it’s un-American to protest, and I say it’s un-American not to when necessary. That’s what we do.” I agree with Principal Dey’s statement because why should our First Amendment Right be freedom of speech, expression, press and petition to government if citizens are going to be discouraged when speaking their mind.

Former World Cup winner Lilian Thuram believes soccer players of all colors should participate in taking a knee. Thuram believes if this movement spreads out of the U.S it will encourage a better society for everyone. Philip O’Connor quotes one of Thuram’s statements he made when speaking to a journalism class in Stockholm: “If you make injustice visible, it comes into the spotlight, and if it is in focus then one must start to question what is happening. To solve a problem, you have to bring it into the open.” I agree with this quote because there are some people who choose to overlook all these horrible things like terrorism, police brutality and plain discrimination; that once again made Kaepernick start his protesting in the first place. These are real problems that divide our country more and more. Police brutality and racial oppression have been recurring problems that people fear to speak on but I believe if you want change for our society and for this nation then actions should be taken.

A supporter of this campaign is Megan Rapinoe of the Women’s National Team who took a knee before her game against Thailand. However, her counterparts the USMNT (U.S National Men’s Team) disagree on the reasons behind taking a knee and do not want to be involved in such things. Oil Platt of “Goal” states current men’s coach Bruce Arena expects his players to observe while standing meaning he does not support taking a knee. Yes, I truly think representing your country is a characteristic everyone should hold with pride. However, when your country is choosing to not take control of the heinous deeds being done to the citizens of the nation, I feel like that country shouldn’t be represented nor honored. Defender Geoff Cameron claims, “If you have that big of a problem with something that’s going on in our country or feel so strongly that you need to protest in that way, then I would say don’t come. Don’t play at all.”

I’m highly disappointed at the direction the Men’s National Team took; these men have probably never faced discrimination or racial oppression in their lives so they do not know how serious and impacting these troubles can be for POC. As the Americans they claim to be, I hope they will look back to read the set rights for this nation and at least try to empathize with their fellow soccer mates that are POC’s. As the World Cup is advancing closer and closer, every soccer player of different culture and ethnicity that has received discrimination because of skin color should participate in this movement. I firmly believe that taking a knee is not disrespecting the country but speaking up for things to be changed and fixed so society in a whole can walk away from division to be able to come together as one.

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