Sunday, May 27, 2018

Standing vs. Kneeling

As a kid in school, we began the day by standing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Back then, none of my classmates made an issue about it. It would have been considered abnormal for refusing to do so. Patriotism wasn’t forced upon us. We were simply taught to honor our country and its leaders.

Currently, there’s a controversy over football players and the national anthem. This was initiated two years ago by Colin Kaepernick, former quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers. Prior to a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, Kaepernick took a knee not to honor God or fallen soldiers but as a protest against alleged mistreatment of blacks by police. He told reporters, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” I admired Kaepernick’s playing abilities but disagreed with him dissing a symbol that represents freedom for all Americans.

Since becoming a free agent following the 2016 season, Kaepernick hasn’t been able to sign with another team. Perhaps he’d still be playing had he protested on his own time instead of his employer’s (the National Football League). Nevertheless, other players have knelt, sat on the bench, or stayed in the locker room during the national anthem. This has turned off many football fans including myself. As a result, TV ratings for the NFL have decreased. 

So this past Wednesday, NFL owners adopted a new policy. Players are now required to stand if they are on the field for the national anthem but can choose to stay in the locker room until the song is over. Just because you are free to do the wrong thing doesn’t mean you should. 

Perhaps all teams would benefit by emulating the example set by Bud Grant. Years ago as coach of the Minnesota Vikings, Grant directed all his players to stand still at attention while the national anthem played (they even practiced that along with the actual plays). This discipline helped them become one of the least penalized teams in the NFL. Grant actually started doing that during his previous coaching job with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day in the United States. Every NFL player should remind themselves that many soldiers gave their lives so they have the freedom to earn millions of dollars playing a game. If a particular player still feel “oppressed”, I suggest he move to a communist or Muslim-controlled country. See what happens when one refuses to honor the leaders and symbols of North Korea or Iran.

Regardless, everyone including NFL players and owners will someday kneel to the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s better they do so now on their own volition instead of waiting until Judgment Day.

“that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth” - Philippians 2:10

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