With the recent displays of police violence and overall discrimination towards black people we have seen in our country, one NFL football player decided to take a stand, or a knee actually, by kneeling during the National Anthem before his game. This player was 49er’s Quarterback Colin Kaepernick and after he did this to bring attention to these issues, many more players around the world followed suit whether they were professional, college, or high school football players. At first, I did not think twice about these issues or these protests as they did not have anything to do with me and did not effect me, I thought anyway, which was a very ignorant way of thinking I might add. Then, 3 players on the University of Nebraska football team, my favorite team since I was born and the school I attend, decided to participate in this protest when they visited Northwestern. Once again, I really did not think anything of it until chaos started to break out in the state of Nebraska. Former Mayor and current Nebraska regent, Hal Daub, stated that Nebraska should, “let them get out of uniform and do their protesting on somebody else’s nickel,” as he suggested they should be kicked off the team. Also, current Nebraska Governor, Pete Rickets, said that this action was a, “disgrace.” After these comments were made, the state of Nebraska and the University’s football program received more national attention than they ever have since I can remember. Thankfully, Nebraska’s President, Hank Bounds, issued a firm rebuke that said ““I have served in the military,” Bounds wrote. “I understand love of country and love of the flag and I know that freedom is not free. I recognize that some are upset by what they saw on Saturday night. But let me be clear. The University of Nebraska will not restrict the First Amendment rights of any student or employee.” This really helped assuage the negative attention Nebraska was receiving at the National level.
As I stated above, at first I had no opinion of this issue. The flag kneeling somewhat annoyed me, but I did not care enough to think or talk about it. After this chaos broke out in my home state, I started to read more about everything and began having a serious interest in the whole situation. In my opinion, these protests are undeniably doing exactly what they are intended to do, which is to create more attention and conversation around these issues with police violence among blacks. Although I do agree with the opposing side’s main argument, which is the fact that there are better ways to go about this than flag kneeling, I still think the kneeling has had much more of a positive effect than a negative one. The comments from our Governor and former Mayor, in my opinion, were completely ridiculous. I especially disagree with Daubs comments about kicking these players off the team. This is because regardless of what side you are on in this issue, you have to respect the way these 3 players and the Nebraska football team as a whole went about this. First, Michael Rose-Ivy, the leader of the 3 in the protest, had a private meeting with Head Coach, Mike Riley, in which he asked if him and others could do this. Coach Riley had nothing but respect for MRI (Michael Rose-Ivy) for wanting to do this, but he said in order for him to do so he would have to address the entire team and receive their blessing. Being a clear leader on the football team, MRI had no problem with this and having nothing but respect for the members of their family, the football team was more than okay with it. Then finally after the day of the Northwestern game and numerous different reactions, MRI delivered a heartfelt prepared statement on what him, Mohamed Barry and DaiShon Neal did and why they did it. In conclusion, after the way it was handled by President Bounds, the Nebraska team, and Husker Nation, my love for Mike Riley, his staff, this team, the football program as a whole, and the place I live continues to grow by the second. God bless and Go Big Red.