Veteran gives views on kneeling in the NFL


Sarah Noble

Michael Garvey, a U.S. Marine veteran—pictured here with his service dog, Liberty—believes NFL players should be free to kneel when the anthem is played.

Micheal Garvey , Reporter

The flag represents freedom, people say, but at the same time some people also try to deny others the freedom to choose how to respect it.

Kneeling—as some NFL players have been doing before their games—is about the most respectful way a person can show disapproval. If a player is hurt on the field, it is customary for players on both sides to take a knee as a sign of respect.

The players aren’t giving the flag the finger, turning their backs, booing or spitting—all of which people have done to veterans in the past.

When I started writing this, I honestly couldn’t even remember why players were taking a knee, because the protest has been completely hijacked by people questioning how to show proper respect to a patterned cloth and a song.

Players are taking a knee to protest against inequality and police brutality in America, trying to shed light on a part of our country that they rightfully believe is hurting.

The NFL as a corporation only supports patriotism because it generates income, not because the owners are concerned with using their powerful platform to bring about change.

Stadiums have played the anthem before games since the end of World War II, but our country’s hyper-patriotism at games was a direct result of Department of Defense advertising propaganda.

The Senate found in 2015 that the DOD spent $6.8 million between 2012 and 2015 to pay for ceremonies honoring the military at games.

Every patriotic demonstration you see on game day is nationalism bought and paid for by tax dollars.

The NFL has a history of disallowing personal displays that attempt to raise awareness, usually by citing a strict uniform code.

Players have been fined for wearing purple cleats for domestic violence awareness, green cleats for mental health awareness and writing the name of a dead parent under an eye.

In kneeling during the anthem, players found a loophole for bringing an issue to light.

For some reason, because of a contract I signed with the U.S. Marine Corps before I was old enough to smoke, drink or vote, people think I am an authority on what is and what isn’t disrespectful to veterans.

No matter what someone writes regarding social issues, someone else will be upset, veteran or otherwise.

But unless you do something extreme like joining the Westboro Baptist Church and picketing dead soldiers’ funerals, that offended person won’t be me.

Some people say players shouldn’t use their position as an attempt to bring about change, that they should do it on their own time.

But if you had a strong opinion about citizens being senselessly killed, and you didn’t use a powerful platform you had to make a statement, I would say you didn’t actually care.

Nobody stands up for anything they believe in anymore, and I’m just happy somebody is. Even if that stand is on a knee.