Some black US football players raised their fists in the air instead of singing the national anthem. They can’t count on their teams for that.
Uses a famous symbol: 23-year-old Marcus Peters Photo: ap
The silent protest of some black US football players in recent weeks was not so silent. A loud echo was earned by athletes who either sat or knelt instead of standing for the obligatory anthem before games. Some called it unpatriotic, others referred to the right to freedom of expression.
It started with star quarterback Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers, who wanted to draw attention to the oppression and racist violence against blacks and people of color in the "Land of the Free.
Now, at the big season opener last Sunday with thirteen games taking place, also the anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the protest took on a new form. With their fists raised, some of the football players stood for the anthem, for example defensive player Marcus Peters of the Kansas City Chiefs, Martellus Bennett and Devin McCourty of the New England Patriots and three other players of the Tennessee Titans.
The raised fist has a long tradition in African American protest in the United States. To be sure, other groups have used the fist for political purposes. But it has a special connection with the Black Power movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The fist expresses strength – and does so all the more when it is thrust into the air rather than swung.
Athletes are well advised to exercise their right to protest, because their teams behave like flags in the wind.
"We encourage all members of our organization to stand tall during the national anthem out of respect and appreciation for the freedoms we enjoy as Americans," the Miami Dolphins wrote in an official statement. Some Dolphins players had previously knelt for the anthem. At the same time, however, everyone "has the right to stand for the anthem in an individual way."
Plain language sounds different. It is more convenient for the clubs if all players stand together for the anthem, as the Seattle Seahawks did. Sports teams sell jerseys on every corner of the political spectrum and in every state, both in liberal Oregon and conservative Prairie Wyoming. Messing with anyone there? Wasted Dollars.