Our First Amendment states as thus: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

 

Therefore, in the technical sense, we certainly have the right to peacefully protest anything that we believe to be wrong with the government and/or any type of organization.

 

However, in all reality, this statute, and the promises that it awards us, don’t always hold up to be true.

 

When we come upon times like this in society, where racial tensions are high and it seems as though the American fabric is falling apart, people tend to exercise these first amendment rights in order to make a statement and hopefully a change. But nowadays, the caveat with doing so can very possible be physical harm in many ways: to your body, to your mind, to your soul and for some, to your pockets.

 

What this shows is that these first amendment rights are anything but free and often come at a steep cost when tensions become raised to this magnitude.

 

Just as in society, this happens in the world of sports as well.

 

When Colin Kaepernick decided to kneel/sit during the National Anthem last season, it hurt him in many ways. What should have been a decision that was honored based off of everyone’s first amendment rights became a fire starter and one that may well have ended up costing him his career.

 

This is because, the NFL, like any other major American owned business, is internally more of a dictatorship than a democracy. On the surface, it would seem that Kaepernick is out of a job because of his on the field play, but internally, the decision to kneel was deemed so bad for business because of the backlash it received from the American people, that the NFL and its teams alike are very reluctant to associate itself with it.

 

Due to a decision made on Kaepernick’s part that was well within his rights as an American Citizen, his livelihood is now in jeopardy and so are those of players who will decide to do something similar in the future.

 

With Kaepernick as the example, many players are seriously contemplating whether it’s worth it to stand up, or sit down, for what they believe in because it could cost them their jobs.

 

(NBC Sports)

Depending on the clout you have as a player in the NFL, it really becomes a business decision rather than a moral decision. Within recent weeks we have publicly heard players lie on the fence about whether they would attempt to perform such actions based off the fact that many of them are fighting to make the 53 man roster on their respective teams, let alone fighting to make a change.

 

They see what has happened to Kapernick and most have to go against their true judgment in order to keep their jobs and continue to feed their families.

 

Yes, depending on the team and the player, you still have guys in this league who will show some type of protest during the anthem in support of Kapernick (Malcolm Jenkins, Marshawn Lynch, Martellus Bennett), but all of these players have clout and have solidified their careers in the NFL. Therefore, they are in a better position to do so than most others who may feel the need to do the same things.

 

However, for most, they really aren’t afforded that luxury because depending on their team, things like that may not even be tolerated even though it’s within your rights. Teams like the Cowboys have openly stated that any form of protest of the Anthem is strictly prohibited, meaning that if you do it, you’re fired. So in reality, the First Amendment becomes less of a right and more of a business/life decision that can either help or hurt you with no in between.

 

The decision to stand or to sit becomes one that puts your life and livelihood on the line. With the current landscape of the NFL and of society, not many are in positions to be able to make the wrong one.

 

Do you believe that players should be able to freely and peacefully protest the National Anthem? Let’s talk about it here or find me on Twitter @Phenombc3.