Al Jazeera Op-Ed Asks — Why Do They Even Play The Anthem Before NFL Games?
An opinion writer for Al Jazeera questioned whether the national anthem should be played before sports events in the United States in a piece published Monday.
In a piece called, “Take a knee for justice: Protest white power!” opinion writer John Sims suggested that Americans “fake sing” the words of the Star Spangled Banner.
Sims wrote, “And why, and forgive me for asking, are we playing the national anthem at sports games anyway? So we can fake sing words we don’t know?”
Sims has also rebuked President Donald Trump for suggesting that players should be fired for failing to stand for the national anthem.
If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
He wrote, “Trump’s comments seem to have backfired and sparked widespread kneeling and the locking of arms between players and even with some owners.”
Later, Sims congratulated Colin Kaepernick for jumpstarting the anthem protest phenomenon. He implied that NFL owners who do not sign Kaepernick should be sanctioned or forced into signing a player simply because of his political stance.
He closed his piece by lauding Kaepernick as a hero of the social justice movement, standing up for justice in an age of ubiquitous white supremacy.
He wrote, “To Colin Kaepernick. You are not alone. Thank you for your service! #TakeAKnee”.
Sims hardly mentioned the story of Alejandro Villanueva, the Pitsburgh Steelers lineman who served 3 tours in Afghanistan and stood in the players’ tunnel for the anthem, hand over heart. He merely summarized the Steelers team staying in the locker room during the anthem, while adding “except one player who was a veteran.”
This season, the NFL’s viewership ratings are down nearly 13 percent. Some believe this is due to the hyper-polarized nature of the league surrounding anthem protests.