STAND UP OR SHIP OUT

Recently, I’ve analyzed the origins of the NFL’s national anthem controversy. I reiterate: When Colin Kaepernick started this, he told NFL.com kneeling was deliberately to NOT show respect for the flag of America.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has sent a letter to all 32 teams pleading for a league-wide resolution to get players to stand for the anthem, less than a month after Goodell orchestrated a weekend of NFL “unity” that encouraged players to do whatever they felt like doing at the moment.

There’s little reason to even try to spin this change in Goodell’s approach as anything other than a surrender to reality.

Weeks ago, Goodell was pushing back against statements by President Donald Trump, noting that the comments showed a “lack of respect” for the NFL.

You might not have seen it then, but that was the moment Goodell lost the debate. He explicitly said the problem was a lack of respect for the NFL, when the President and most Americans were more concerned about the NFL’s lack of respect for the United States.

People who support NFL kneelers have no shortage of excuses for the behavior. And they all fall short.

This is because of what the anthem means. It is symbolic of a dedication to America. In the United States in 2017, there is great diversity in terms of of our worldviews, experiences, and abilities.

Only one thing truly unites us: Honoring America.

This requires respect for the nation, which United States citizens are expected to believe is the greatest country in the world. The honor is so profound that even citizens of other countries will stand for our anthem showing respect.

This is precisely why stadium announcers ask the spectators to “rise to honor America.”

Spectators are asked to rise. Players are expected to rise.

If you kneel in protest during the anthem, you are not honoring America. That’s why America has turned against you.

It doesn’t mean your concerns and grievances don’t matter. But today you have unprecedented access to the people. You can run for office if this matters so much to you.

If you cannot articulate your message to Americans through direct engagement, you won’t communicate it by not rising to honor America.

You’re going to start standing when the national anthem plays before your game, or one way or the other, you’re not going to be playing the game.

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