America’s most popular sport has been plagued with controversy over the past 12 months following high-profile protests by their stars, who have elected to sit for the national anthem.
Colin Kaepernick, then of the San Francisco 49ers, sparked the debate a year ago and it hasn’t gone away since, with Marshawn Lynch of the Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks’ Michael Bennett sitting for the national anthem during games over the weekend.
Colin Kaepernick began his anthem protest one year ago. ✊🏾✊🏽✊🏿 pic.twitter.com/hiD7bZkujQ
— Haymarket Books (@haymarketbooks) August 14, 2017
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was questioned at a fans forum this week about the protests and was asked whether he believes it’s going to be a problem again this season, though he suggested there was a ‘time and a place’ for these protests to occur.
Quoted by ESPN, he said:
“It’s one of those things where we have to understand that there are people who have different viewpoints. It’s something that I think everybody wants. The national anthem is a special moment for me. It’s a point of pride. That is a really important moment but we also have to understand the other side — that people do have rights, and we want to respect those.”
“That’s what we all have to, sort of, understand — the responsibility of doing it at the right time and in the right way. Protest to progress is what I call it. We all have to recognise that people want to see change. Let’s go out and try to make that happen in a peaceful and an important way.”
Racial tension in America is back in the limelight after awful incidents in Charlottesville this weekend, where a white supremacist march turned deadly, and many believe the NFL should stand with the protesters and utilise the landscape they have to make an impact.
The problem is there will be controversy on both sides of the fence and there’s no perfect solution to the situation, which is why each player will continue to do what they feel is necessary and there won’t be a unilateral approach from the league itself.