Out-Front

Are You Ready for Some Football? Not So fast!
By Joseph Uliano, M.A., Ed.S.

The season is just beginning, and we are already witnessing players kneeling and disrespecting Old Glory and her beloved anthem. As Americans and according to the First Amendment they have the right to peacefully protest, but do they know what they’re protesting? Do you know what they’re protesting?

Perhaps they’re protesting the deadly violence that has plagued the City of Chicago? Perhaps they’re protesting immigrant street gangs or homegrown epidemics, such as poverty and drug addiction?

As of now we just don’t know what they’re protesting, because they have been nonexistent since February 4, 2018. However, back in February I recall hearing some of these pseudo intellects referring to “police brutality” and “oppression.” If police brutality and oppression truly exist, then why do they only protest during football season? Surely any man on a humanitarian mission wouldn’t fathom having an “off season.”

As a patriot (not a Patriots fan), I would be remiss not to talk about their technique when protesting. Can any group show a greater sign of weakness than kneeling before the very symbol that they claim to oppress them? I don’t think so, yet again, unlike our millionaires playing a game, I took an oath to die for what I believe in, while they signed a piece of paper granting them lavish lifestyles, as they sleep under a blanket of freedom provided to them by the same men and women they disrespect.

I think what this all comes down to is that most Americans have grown up. Many have gone to college and are now struggling to pay off their student loans or to save enough money for their children’s education, something pro athletes know nothing about. Many have picked up a trade and are struggling to feed their families, because of layoffs, minimum wages, or the rising costs of living. Some have even decided to make the ultimate sacrifice and join the Armed Forces. We must love those who make that sacrifice, because if not for them we would not be here today. Then there are the few. The few professional athletes who never grew up, because they unlike you and I, are playing a game for a living. Think about that for a minute. They are playing a game! With that in mind, what gives them the right to pretend that they are on some crusade to make things better for people that they claim to represent, yet the people themselves are standing, while dealing with real-life struggles, and doing the best they can for themselves, for their families, and for their communities, not just during a season, but during all seasons. These are the people, like Emiliano Zapata (1879-1919), who said “It’s better to die on your feet than to live on your knees,” as he fought to liberate peasant farmers who were oppressed by the wealthy and the greed of their government during the Mexican Revolution.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl, but by all means, keep moving.” King also said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” President John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Both great men shared the same message, and that message was to keep working for a better tomorrow, despite the obstacles and hardship. Both men loved their country and both, especially King, refused to kneel before any difficult situation. King knew that one day an African American would orbit space (Guion Stewart Bluford), sit on the United States Supreme Court (Thurgood Marshall), and even become President of the United States (Barack Obama). He knew this because great men of his era stood on their feet and fought for what they believed in, breaking the chains that oppressed them, so that all Americans, including football players in 2018, no longer needed to fight for equality and justice for all, because it was established long before a football player decided to take a knee, due to his personal perception of oppression. These men fought for, in front of, and behind the American flag, as the flag represented them as Americans, which is what they were fighting for. We don’t kneel for the flag today. We have no reason to. We stand tall. We stand proud. If something is wrong, we collectively work to fix it. Kneeling is not moving forward during difficult times, it’s nothing more than a cowardly act, suppressing the hard work of those who are on their feet every day fighting to achieve the American dream.

I’ll leave you with this, NFL great and notable civil rights advocate Jim Brown, said “I’m going to give you the real deal: I’m an American. I don’t desecrate my Flag and my National Anthem.” “This is my country, and I’ll work out the problems without doing it in an unintelligent manner” (The Post Game, 2017).

Perhaps some of our professional athletes need to open a history book occasionally or listen to individuals like Brown when they should not speak, especially before ill advising their impressionable audience.

Lastly, September 11th is upon us! Will you stand or will you kneel? God Bless America!

Joe Uliano has served as a police officer for over fifteen years, and is assigned as field training officer and departmental instructor. He is currently a Doctoral Candidate in Education at Seton Hall University, where he also earned an Educational Specialist Degree (Ed.S.) in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Management. Prior to earning this advanced degree, he also earned a Master’s Degree in Human Resources, Training, and Development and a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice.