Sports. Politics. Patriotism. Three subjects where no matter what you say or opine, you are going to find great passion and disagreement. And when they overlap, as they have done in recent days, there can erupt a firestorm that can produce both dialogue and divisiveness. The former is healthy. The latter, exactly what we as a nation do not need right now.
Persuasive arguments can be made from both sides of the issue. Some look at the players taking a knee during the national anthem as disrespecting the flag, country and the men and women of the armed forces who sacrifice and protect us. My dad is a veteran of the Korean War. I get and respect that. At the same time, many if not most of the athletes who have chosen to publicly display their emotions say they respect the stars and stripes, America and the military but are protesting injustice in representation of those in this country who are persecuted and without a voice.
So who is right and who is wrong? It depends on whom you ask. Many athletes still stand during the national anthem. The Department of Defense today issued a statement that it “does not require or request that athletes be on the field during the playing of the national anthem…” And, ultra-conservative Foxnews.com reported 12 hours ago on a 97-year old WWII veteran from Missouri who symbolically took a knee for a photo in support of the sports figures, saying they “have every right to protest.” During yesterday’s NFL games, many coaches, players and ownership locked arms in unison.
That anyone, let alone someone we are supposed to look to for leadership, would take sides and suggest one is right or wrong when our country was built upon particular rights and freedom of opinion is the only wrong here, I would suggest. My way or the highway is not a discussion and it is certainly not America. Diversity of thought and expression is. It is what we all should appreciate.