A Nittany Lion’s View on Kneeling

Story posted October 1, 2017 in Sports, CommRadio by Devon D'Andrea

A little over a year ago, during the NFL preseason, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began sitting down for the national anthem to bring attention to police brutality against people of color. Now, less than a month into the 2017 regular season, multiple players and entire teams have joined the movement by kneeling during the national anthem, or in some instances, not participating at all. Beyond the NFL, Bruce Maxwell of the Oakland A’s was the first Major League Baseball player to take a knee during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner. This movement has become the talk of the worlds of both sports and politics.  

Adding fuel to this fire, and arguably causing more players and teams to participate in the protest campaign, President Donald Trump has made speeches and taken to Twitter to encourage fans to boycott the NFL and to boo players who knee.  This past Monday night, Dallas Cowboy fans booed their home team after they knelt for the anthem as a team.  Afterwards, Trump tweeted that it was the loudest boo he had ever heard, adding that the fans had “great anger.” Additionally, the President has started the hashtag #StandForOurAnthem, and to prove that those who don't stand are unpatriotic, Trump has cited examples of athletes who have shown respect for the anthem, like Jamaican track superstar Usain Bolt, who cut from an interview to stand for the American national anthem. Trump has also re-tweeted tweets about ex-NFL players who are veterans and veterans with no legs who would love a chance to stand for our anthem.     

Here in Happy Valley, freshman football player Lamont Wade, who identifies himself as an activist in his Twitter bio, shared his stance on the issue in a video he uploaded to YouTube entitled “Who’s really disrespecting the flag?”  In Wade’s video, he was very respectful when speaking about the flag, describing each color and its meaning. Wade goes on to make the point that it is those who discriminate against African Americans who are disrespecting the flag, what it stands for, and what our country was built upon.

Wade also talks about our right to free speech with no interference or regulation from the government. He sees Colin Kaepernick as someone who can change the world and says that Kaepernick began kneeling because actions speak louder than words. Wade reiterates that the true meaning of the protests are a stand against police brutality and that they are not a protest against the flag or the national anthem, which Wade says Trump has lost sight of.  Wade ends by encouraging others to take a knee and stand up for what they believe in.

Like Trump, Wade also has taken to Twitter, posting a link to his video and tweeting about race relations. Wade responds to those disagree with his beliefs very respectfully, stating that he has no right to disrespect anyone’s opinion and that there is no need for animosity among those with different views.

During Tuesday’s press conference, Penn State head football coach James Franklin spoke about Wade’s video, saying that he was proud of him and that Wade spent time thinking about what is in his heart and mind, and that Wade articulated that thoughtfully.  Franklin said that similar to last year, the team has openly talked in detail about the issue. Because he is biracial, Franklin says he sees things from multiple perspectives and that is how he wants his team to perceive said differences. He believes that embracing differences are what makes Penn State, college athletics and our country so great and strong.  However, seeing differences from a negative perspective appears to be the main focus lately.

Sports fans and America will watch as more athletes are likely to take a knee and protest during the national anthem.  It will be interesting to see how the NFL, NCAA, President Trump and average Americans react and whether the protests have an effect in ending discrimination and police brutality.


Devon D’Andrea is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email dfd5220@psu.edu.