Colin Kaepernick started a movement in 2016 when he kneeled during the national anthem to protest against racial injustice. It has been four years since he first took a knee, and acts of protests within sports organizations have not stopped.
In the NFL season opener Thursday, the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans locked arms for a moment of silence before the game recognizing racism and inequality in America.
The moment of silence was short-lived.
Fans booed during the moment, showing their disagreement with the stance players were taking.
No matter what form of protest players use, many people want athletes to play and not advocate for anything outside of their sport. It is important athletes continue to use their platform to speak out against these pressing social issues in America.
“I mean, the booing during that moment was unfortunate," Texans defensive lineman J.J Watt said to NFL Network after the game I don’t fully understand that. There was no flag involved. There was nothing involved other than two teams coming together to show unity."
The NFL has a history of leadership not supporting the protests of the players.
Since 2016, other players have faced backlash and restrictions regarding protests. In 2018, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell created a rule stating all players must stand during the national anthem, or can stay in the locker room.
If these rules aren’t followed, teams and players can be fined.
Players are coming up with new ways to protest without being seen as disrespectful to the American flag. Even when opposing teams do something as powerful as locking arms, it’s still too much activism for some.
With this backlash, NFL players must continue to use their voice and demand support from the team owners they bring in so much money for. Black players make up 70% of NFL players — without them, the NFL wouldn’t be nearly what it is today.
Players must know they have more power than these owners. Without them there would be no NFL.
All of the Sunday tailgates, Monday night football games and Super Bowl Sundays ride on the shoulders of these players.They must be supported by fans and owners alike.
Players must use this power to protest however they see fit.
Athletes have proven throughout history they have the ability to create change in America.
One can look at athletes such as Jackie Robinson who was the first African American to play in the MLB, Muhammad Ali who refused to fight for a country that didn't fight for him or Tommie Smith and John Carlos who raised the Black Power salute on the podium of the 1968 Olympics.
These individuals were not only athletes, but also activists. They were able to make real, concrete change in America.
Athletes today must continue to fight for what is right, no matter who disagrees.