Black Lives Matter movements in the NFL sparking controversy

Grace Monacelli, Editor

     If you’ve been keeping up with the media over the last few months, you might have heard about the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement  and the vast impacts it has had on our country. Since slavery was declared unconstitutional in the 1860s, Black people in the United States have been fighting to be treated as equals. From then on, the black community was granted more rights and freedoms, but they watched it all crumble time and time again as their brothers, sisters, mothers and children were taken by acts of police brutality. What started the most recent outrage was the death of George Floyd. Floyd was a black man killed during an arrest in which a white officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, despite Floyd repeatedly telling the officer he couldn’t breathe. An additional name at the front of the movement is Breonna Taylor’s. Taylor was shot and killed by police while in her home back in March. Millions have demanded justice for Taylor, but have been left feeling defeated as the officers that were responsible for her death were not taken into custody. 

     The Black Lives Matter movement is still receiving national support, and now that the National Football League (NFL) is back for the 2020 season, players marked the first full weekend by participating in social justice demonstrations for BLM. Various teams, including the Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets and Miami Dolphins, remained in the locker room during the national anthem. Other teams like the Baltimore Ravens and Seattle Seahawks followed in Colin Kaepernick’s footsteps and took a knee during the national anthem to demonstrate their intolerance towards recent acts of police brutality and inequality in America. 

     Another demonstration that took place during the first week back for professional football was the playing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing”. This song is considered the “anthem” for the Black American community. The NFL has announced that they are committed to playing this song before every game now to celebrate the BLM movement. 

     As with any form of protest, there are going to be supporters and opposers. There has been controversy surrounding the act of kneeling for the anthem ever since Kaepernick, the former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, did it for the first time on Aug. 14, 2016. After his third game of the season, Kaepernick was interviewed about his intentions for not standing for the anthem, and it sparked an outburst.

     “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder,” said Kaepernick in an interview for NFL News.

     The questions being argued time and time again are these: Is there a place for movements like BLM in sports? Do we keep politics out of it completely? Or, are these players entitled to using their platforms to inspire a change?