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Palm Coast Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017 2 years ago

Column: Protest all you want, just leave the flag out of it

The system and its leaders are flawed. But the flag, in my opinion, is not.
by: Ray Boone Contributing Writer

There are certain things that you can now come to expect on any given Sunday in the NFL: games will be won and games will be lost, fans will cheer and fans will boo. And some players will kneel during the National Anthem.

Matanzas football players standing during the National Anthem before the start of a game. Photo by Ray Boone

It got me thinking: What's going to happen to high school football?

Outside of one case in Texas, I haven't heard of nor witnessed any high school football players kneeling during the anthem. And I find it really hard to believe they all disagree with the idea of kneeling (I've seen many, many Twitter posts in regard to that).

For most of the coaches I talked to regarding the matter (all, really), the consensus answer was that they didn't want to offer the personal opinion and that they would support their players regardless.

Will kneeling for the anthem seep into the pregame rituals of high school ball? I don't know. But if it does, here's some food for thought.

Just last Sunday, I was sitting on my bed — chips and other assorted snacks at the ready — eagerly waiting for my Miami Dolphins to take on the New Orleans Saints in London.

We were already a week removed from what was almost a league-wide decision to kneel for the National Anthem following President Donald Trump’s comments about NFL players choosing that method of protest (he called them S.O.B’s if you’re curious as to what he said). Most teams locked arms and knelt in quiet defiance. The Pittsburgh Steelers, outside of current offensive lineman and former U.S. Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva, didn’t even leave the team’s tunnel.

On Sunday, Oct. 2, most teams went back to their regular anthem traditions, outside of a few players who decided to keep kneeling.

But something about the Dolphins caught my eye: Three Miami players knelt for the National Anthem but stood for the Royal Anthem “God Save the Queen.”

Seriously, guys?

And before you, dear readers, blow up my Facebook or Twitter with cries of anger and judgement, let me make something clear: I love protest.

The ability to freely — and peacefully — protest is something that is almost distinctly American. It is a right guaranteed to us by the Constitution, a right that cannot be infringed upon by our government (whether a private entity like the NFL can infringe upon it is a different matter).

If you feel wronged, mistreated or hurt by those in power, you absolutely have every right to voice your displeasure. Some would say you have an obligation to.

Yes, clearly our country is divided right now. The amount of pain, suffering and anguish felt by its citizens seems to grow every day. And those are all things worth protesting about.

But in regard to kneeling before the flag, I think it comes down to one question: What is the flag of the United States of America supposed to represent?

The system and its leaders are flawed, of course. But the flag, in my opinion, is not.

It doesn’t represent racism, it doesn’t represent oppression and it doesn’t represent inequality. Rather, it represents every ideal that this country is supposed to embody: freedom, equality and opportunity.

Who wouldn’t stand for that?

I don’t necessarily doubt the intentions of those protesting. For me, it’s the method that’s unsettling.

Protest all you want, just leave the flag out of it.

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