Sports Essay Sample: Taking-a-Knee by NFL Players

Published: 2022-10-21
Sports Essay Sample: Taking-a-Knee by NFL Players
Type of paper:  Argumentative essay
Categories:  Sport Civil rights
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 929 words
8 min read

Since 2016, some NFL players engaged in a silent protest against oppression, discrimination, police brutality and other social injustices toward the black community. The protest involves "taking-a-knee" during the playing of the U.S. national anthem before the games (Stratmoen et al. 204). However, such actions have divided the people in whether they are justifiable or necessary. Some people have called for the punishment of players who engage in such protest. One of the major arguments is that not standing for the national anthem disrespects not just the flag and the country overall, but also veterans and current military personnel. Whether players of NFL should be punished to "taking-a-knee" is a major debate that has divided the opinion of politicians, NFL, and members of society.

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Firstly, as a private company, NFL and team owners have a right to punish those not conforming to public standards of patriotism. However, such punishment can only be implemented in the event that the actions go against the rules set by the NFL regarding standing at attention during the playing of national anthem. Prior to September 2018, the NFL rules did not mandate players to stand during the playing of the national anthem before the kick-off of a game (Mindock). In the previous rule, it was stated that players "should" stand during the national anthem as a show of respect to the United States. However, in the first week of September 2018, NFL unanimously passed a new rule making it mandatory for players to stand during the game, or abstain from entering the field until the anthem was completed (Mindock). In this case, it makes it possible, under the rules of NFL, to punish players for taking-a-knee during games.

The action of NFL to make it mandatory for players to stand during national anthem has led to major questions on the status of free speech for players. The United States Constitution makes a free speech one of the fundamental rights that citizen of the United States should enjoy (Abedi). In this case, restricting the players from such a practice is a hindrance to their free speech as it does not infringe on the rights of any other neither does it affect the status of the game (Mindock). Consequently, based on the principle of free speech, it is not acceptable for players to be punished for protests that raise important awareness of a social problem issue that is well known in society.

The other important consideration for the acceptability of the "taking a knee" protest can be deduced from history. In the history of competitive games in the United States and across the world, players have used the platform provided to express their ideas, protest social oppression, or even celebrate important achievements of the country (Stratmoen et al. 205). For instance, Mohammed Ali failed to enroll in the military exercise in Vietnam arguing that it was not worthwhile to fight for a country that has treated blacks as sub-humans. Other players in the NFL such as Mike Jordan have shown support for the Black Lives Matter Movement while on the pitch (Stratmoen et al. 206). Consequently, protesting in the field is not a new concept, and has been used for showing support to major causes in the society.

The "taking-a-knee" protest is a worthwhile cause that highlights a real problem that faces the American society. In this regards, the already proven targeting and bias of the justice system towards blacks and people of color continue to elicit debate in the United States, yet little progress has been made (Stratmoen et al. 208). Each year, deaths are recorded of people of color dying in the hands of the police, and this makes it a problem that needs the hearing of the society for any progress to be made. Furthermore, disproportionately high number of blacks and people of color are incarcerated, and this reflects the injustice of the group. Consequently, it is justifiable, and a good cause for NFL players, at their discretion, to engage in such protests to create awareness of the problem (Stratmoen et al. 209). Only through such drastic measures, will there be adequate awareness to push policymakers to find ways of solving the problem.

Overall, the protest involving "taking-a-knee" presents a controversial issue on free speech, which continues to divide the nation into two. On one hand are those who believe such protest is ill informed and disrespectful to the national anthem and the United States. However, while the NFL has revised its rules to make it mandatory for players to stand during games, it represents a repression of free speech, which should be rejected. All U.S. citizens have a right to free speech, and the protest by NFL players presents an example of how the right can be used to raise awareness on the problems that the society faces. Other players have used such protests in the past, and this is not an out of the ordinary situation. Consequently, the protesters should not be punished, and instead, should be allowed to exercise as the U.S. Constitution protests their right to free speech.

Works Cited

Abedi, Maham. "Most Americans think it's 'inappropriate' for NFL Players to Take a Knee: Poll." Global News, 2018, August 31, Accessed 19 November 2018.

Mindock, Clark. "Taking a Knee: Why are NFL Players Protesting and When Did They Start to Kneel?" The Independent, 2018, Sep 4,, Accessed 19 November 2018.

Stratmoen, Evelyn, Tiffany J. Lawless, and Donald A. Saucier. "Taking a knee: Perceptions of NFL player protests during the National Anthem." Personality and Individual Differences, 137, 2019, pp. 204-213.

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