The John Brown University Athletics Department instructed athletes to stand and show respect for the national anthem.
This announcement was made a few months ago after Colin Kaepernick, a professional American football quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, protested against racial inequality by kneeling down while the national anthem was being sung.
Robyn Daugherty, the JBU athletics director, asked coaches to meet with their teams to discuss standing for the national anthem. “If these student athletes have something that they are really concerned about and want to voice, I want to provide the appropriate venue for that to take place,” Daugherty said. “I don’t think that the national anthem at the beginning of an athletic contest is really the right place.”
Daugherty said her biggest objection to kneeling for the national anthem is that refusing to stand for the anthem shows disrespect for veterans and families who have loved ones in the military now.
“It goes back to are we uniting or are we dividing?,” she said.
“I think that concept is good for [Kaepernick], but when other people start doing it, I don’t think that’s okay,” senior soccer player Marco Cardona said.
Cardona believes that when people kneel during the anthem, it’s just to get attention; instead, he suggests having open conversations about it.
Jeff Soderquist, head coach of the women’s basketball team, had a discussion with the team after six women of the University of Arkansas’s basketball team knelt down during the national anthem last month.
“What can we do? This country is divided right now. What can we do to unite?” Soderquist asked during the team’s discussion. “I feel like if you are going to play for me, I want you to stand for the national anthem,” Soderquist said as he recalled what he said at the meeting.
Soderquist believes that standing for the anthem as a team is a symbol of unity. If the team would like to protest, he suggests discussing the issue and coming up with a solution together.
Alicia Watt, sophomore education major, attended one of the women’s basketball games at the University of Arkansas a week after the protests.
A predominantly black church had raised enough money for people to attend the game, free of charge, so that they could support the girls in their protest.
“Many had signs that read ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘We Support Our Girls’ as well as t-shirts saying with hashtags about BLM and Kaepernick,” Watt said.
This time, the University of Arkansas basketball players did not protest as Watt had hoped.
“I think all of us were shocked to see the girls standing,” Watt said. “We were all peaceful. We held our signs hoping the girls and the cameras would see them, but there was no violence.”
“We are not protesting because we hate America, our veterans or military, or even the flag. But we are fed up with the amount of hate, silencing, and violence that is occurring across the nation toward POC – specifically our black men,” Watt said. POC stands for people of color.
Sara Williams, freshman basketball player, believes that if there was ever a uniting bond in our country, we should all seek and make the best effort we can to exploit that one uniting thing.
“In the United States of America, it is our flag that stands for that one point that we can all find agreement and unity,” Williams said. “To choose to sit for the national anthem shows an incredible lack of understanding of all the flag represents or it shows someone intent on discrediting our wonderful way of life.”