A Knee’d for Answers

Over the past month, media outlets have been flooded with stories of players in the National Football League (NFL) kneeling for the national anthem. Although former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling for the national anthem last year, the topic continues to spark controversy. These players are peacefully protesting the racial and social injustice that is still present in the United States. Some politicians are distraught with the idea that players are not standing for the flag, furthering the divide of our nation.

What would happen if college athletes decided to ‘take a knee’ during the national anthem? What if it happened at Monmouth?

Editors at The Outlook agreed that Monmouth athletes have the right to peacefully protest, but their opinions varied on how the University and the community would or should react. They also commented on whether or not politics have a place in athletics.

One Outlook editor said that they fully support any athlete that decided to kneel for the national anthem in a form of peaceful protest. “I’ve never seen the act of kneeling during the national anthem as ‘disrespectful’ at all, since kneeling is usually a sign of respect,” said the editor.

“As a woman of color, and a minority in the world (as well as at Monmouth), I would 100 percent stand behind an athlete who decided to take a ‘stand’ by kneeling,” said another editor.

While student-athletes undoubtedly have the right to peacefully protest and voice their views, the University and the community may show some resistance.

“With the University – and West Long Branch – being a conservative area, I feel that there might be some negative thoughts about or said to the athletes and the athletics as a whole,” said an editor.

Another editor acknowledges that there would be backlash and said, “It is unfortunate that there would be a consequence for peaceful protesting, but I understand that with the university climate and our athletic hierarchy that something would happen.”

Nonetheless, the editors at The Outlook believe there should be a place for politics in athletics. One editor spoke of the fact that issues are often not noticed or taken seriously until a celebrity or athlete brings light to it.

“Athletes are held to such a high standard and placed upon a pedestal that it should cross their minds to stand up for something they believe in or something that should be addressed,” said one Outlook editor. 

Despite the fact that editors all buy into the idea that the athletes at Monmouth have the right to kneel or voice their opinions, there have been no instances where Monmouth athletes have taken a knee.

One staff member spoke of the idea that players in uniform must follow the rules of the coach and of the team. “If the rules are we stand, then we stand. If the rules are we kneel, then we kneel,” said the staff member. “You run the play that’s called essentially.”

“It is incumbent on us to speak, and for [a university] to tell us not to, flies in the face of everything that a university is,” said one staff member. “I don’t know if that’s the situation here or not, but wherever that is the situation, that’s wrong.”

“While some might not agree or support the politics being expressed by the athletes and coaches, they have the right to say it,” said an editor.