Take a Knee or Not

By Charles LaRocca

National Football League’s controversy over players kneeling during the National Anthem in protest to police brutality has prompted a strong response. Although athletes at College of Southern Nevada have not taken a knee, the controversy is a conversation.

“There’s so many point of views in this country and with social media everything spreads so quickly and not everyone is going to agree with your views,” said Nick Garritano, CSN’s head baseball coach. “When it comes to kneeling it’s a topic that spreads a lot of opinions. I just hope at CSN if a kid chooses to kneel we can respect his opinion and his First Amendment rights.”

The athletic department at CSN discussed what’s happening nationally. “We have had numerous meetings and speaking on behalf of the athletic department, we believe in the First Amendment rights,” Garritano said. “No kids have expressed a desire to protest but if they did we would support them.”

“We’re supportive of kids and we’re supportive of their opinions but when the Anthem is over we ask they play the sport they are occupied with,” Garritano said.

“Politics have always been in sports but it’s more-so recently with everything going on in the country,” said Isaiah Blaylock, pitcher for CSN Coyotes baseball team. “I understand both sides and why their doing it. I just think that the National Anthem isn’t the right time to make a statement but I understand why their doing it and how Colin Kaepernick took a knee.”

“I think sports can be used to bring people of all races and beliefs together so they can find one thing they support and have in common, [which is the sport]” Blaylock added.

According to ESPN, which tacks weekly protesters on the field, week three— Sept. 21 to 25—during this NFL season, had approximately 31 of 32 teams with players who sat or took a knee during the National Anthem. That was the largest protest thus far due to President Donald Trump’s comments that team owners should fire players who do not stand during the National Anthem.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a memorandum dated Oct. 10, “We live in a country that can feel very divided. Sports, and especially the NFL, bring people together and lets them set aside those divisions, at least for a few hours. The current dispute over the National Anthem is threatening to erode the unifying power of our game and is now dividing us and our players from many fans across the country.”

Goodell said, “Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem. It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor the flag and our country and our fans expect that from us. We also care deeply about our players and respect their opinions and concerns about critical social issues. The controversy over the Anthem is a barrier to having honest conversations and making real progress on the underlying issues.”

The controversy has sparked conversations among sports fans. There were reports of fans boycotting NFL games. Others supported players who kneeled. Some are neutral.

CSN student and avid sports fan Brandy Battoe said she will watch sports regardless of what takes place during the National Anthem. “Whatever the players choose to do before the game does not impact what I do or believe. I just wish we could look at things from the other person’s point of view and maybe it will help us understand why,” Battoe said. If a CSN player kneeled, Battoe added, “I would support him. I think it would be great that he is using his American right to stand up for what he believes. I just hope he understands why he would be taking a knee.”

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