Football fans across the globe are preparing for the sixth “rematch” in Super Bowl history. Super Bowl 52 will feature the Eagles and Patriots as the teams go head-to-head for the 2o18 title. Prior to talk of the upcoming annual championship game, it had been awhile since players kneeling during the national anthem prior to an NFL game made headlines, but as the big game draws near, the conversation has resurfaced. The AMVETS organization recently submitted an ad titled, “Please Stand” for the Super Bowl program; however, the NFL has rejected the request.
The “all-star” debate began during the 2016 NFL season when Colin Kaepernick chose to protest racial injustice by refusing to stand for the national anthem. The protests carried into the 2017 season as additional players followed Kaepernick’s example. This stance against injustice fueled a firestorm among fans.
The beloved game will take place on February 4, 2018, at the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. For many fans, the halftime show along with the host of commercials are the highlights. AMVETS, an organization for veterans, wants to encourage all players to rise to their feet in honor of the country’s anthem; however, the spokesperson for the league does not believe this is the place for that type of attention. Brian McCarthy said:
The Super Bowl game program is designed for fans to commemorate and celebrate the game, players, teams and the Super Bowl. It’s never been a place for advertising that could be considered by some as a political statement. The NFL has long supported the military and veterans and will again salute our service members in the Super Bowl with memorable on-field moments that will be televised as part of the game.
The debate over standing or kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner” began with Kaepernick in 2016. It has since expanded to include additional sports and is currently a nationally divisive issue. Although the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback made his missive clear, many sought to distort the facts. Kaepernick’s stance was and is against social injustice. It is not now, nor was it ever, against America, the armed forces, or legitimate police action.
It is understandably difficult for many veterans, active duty military or families of such to separate the flag from their pain. For these victims, it hurts deeply when NFL players or fellow citizens choose not to stand for the anthem or honor the flag. They see the flag as a representation of their commitment to the freedom of America. For these “unsung” heroes, the flag does not represent the government, nor politicians and their actions. It represents the people. When players or others refuse to stand for the anthem, it translates to these warriors as absolute disrespect. Hence, many proclaim, “Stand up or get out!”
However, perhaps, many Americans have forgotten what the flag truly represents. It is symbolic of a nation that is unified with “liberty and justice for all.” Many have grabbed their boxing gloves and come out swinging when they have no knowledge of the totality of the National Anthem. How many have even heard or read all the lyrics? How many even care about the goal of the NFL players who support Kaepernick? One person responded to the critics by saying:
Standing for the flag is a personal choice. Most of the time that personal choice is based on your connection to the flag and anthem. I don’t think these protests have anything to do with the military and I think it’s a shame that people are using the military as pawns in their political discussion.
Finally, the anthem was written by someone who did not care for black people in particular, so the anthem leaves out a large group of people. But those who feel offended by those who choose to not stand, how do you think we feel when we are asked to stand for an anthem that did not have us in mind when those words of liberty and justice for all are uttered.
As Super Bowl 52 quickly approaches, the dispute continues as opinions spread across social media. Another person joined the conversation and described her feelings as follows:
As a veteran myself and a military spouse, I personally always stand. But I also respect and defend others’ rights to protest the flag, especially when they have educated, thought-out reasons they feel justify it. You know this is all about the Kaepernick debate, which is ridiculous to me. He quietly and respectfully protested. He didn’t cause a ruckus, didn’t make rude gestures or in any other way disrespect the flag. I think it’s more disrespectful for someone to wear clothes that are seemingly made out of a flag.
Joe Chenelly, executive director of AMVETS seeks to exercise the organization’s free speech just as many players have. The NFL rejected the $30,000 ad. Although a third-party publisher sells the ads, the league approves all program content. Reportedly, the league tried working with the organization to consider different wording options, but could not reach an agreement in a timely manner. As such, the NFL has rejected the “Please Stand” ad.
By Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
USA Today: NFL rejects Super Bowl LII program ad submitted by veterans group
Sporting News: Super Bowl 52: How Eagles-Patriots ‘rematch’ oddly connects to Super Bowl 39
Pro Con: Refusing to Stand for the National Anthem: Top 3 Pros and Cons
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