History of 'The Star-Spangled Banner' in the NFL
From tradition to what's in the rule-book, the history of 'The Star-Spangled Banner' in the NFL
For all of Donald Trump’s often baffling social commentary, he could not have asked for better opponents in an ongoing culture war that has the political left crying foul. On everything from statues, to sports protests, the left seems eager to somehow try to out-do Trump’s bombastic absurdity. Everyone from activists to journalists and Democrat Party members have decided that moderation is all but DOA and the cultural pendulum which swung far left for eight years is swinging back right with equal velocity.
The national anthem protests by NFL players this weekend is just the latest example of overreach (a word only seen in media to describe the right’s response to Democrat scandals) by a side of the political aisle that has been drummed down to their largest governing minority since World War II. Trump’s comments in Alabama resurrected a mostly dormant discussion about NFL players kneeling in protest over perceived police brutality that started with 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick last year, in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
The kneel down gesture was always puzzling to me, as the national anthem isn’t played at sporting events to honor police officers. It’s in large part to honor men and women serving in the nation’s armed forces (more on that in a minute) which give us the freedom to gather in stadiums or around our televisions every Sunday and scream at grown men chasing each other with a ball.
My question to the Democrats (and media) is simple: What voters in that big chunk of the country turned red do you plan to win back on a platform of kneeling for the national anthem, revoking due process, removing monuments of our founders, or backing Kim Jong Un in a nuclear showdown?
I don’t need to debate the merits or the wisdom behind Kaepernick’s actions.There’s been too much of that already. But what is up for debate is the wisdom of the political left throwing in with a gesture that still, to this day and despite what you see on cable news and social media, remains largely unpopular with the voting public. In 2016, a Quinnipac poll found that only 38 percent of those supported NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem. A Reuters poll found that 72 percent found the protest to be unpatriotic but also that 64 percent agreed there should be no punishment or fine.
Thanks to Trump’s reinvigoration of the debate, it didn’t take long for pundits on the left to start suggesting that taking a knee during the national anthem is now a direct protest of Trump himself. D.C. Bureau chief for Mother Jones, David Corn outright stated “The kneel will now become a sign of opposition to Trump,” effectively hijacking the gesture from black activists. Washington Post social justice reporter Wesley Lowery called on colleagues to demand a reasoning from players who chose not to kneel. No word yet if Lowery chose to ask Pittsburgh Steelers tackle and former Army Ranger and Bronze Star recipient Alejandro Villanueva why he chose to stand for the anthem in the tunnel, the only player from the team to do so. Villanueva’s jersey sales have now skyrocketed in only a day. Jon Schwarz from the left leaning site The Intercept wrote “The National Anthem is a Celebration of Slavery”
The left has chosen to make kneeling for the national anthem now a referendum on Trump himself. A larger problem for them, and the NFL in general, is they picked this fight on a day meant to honor Gold Star mothers.
Americans can disseminate between the man in the Oval Office and the country he represents. They can acknowledge problems with community policing, or the commander-in-chief's tweets while also honoring men and women in uniform overseas and more to the point, they know the politicization of the sport they used to love didn’t start with Donald Trump.
This is not a fight they will win, but like removing monuments of the founders , journalists (including Atlantic editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg and CNN morning show host Chris Cuomo) excusing Antifa under the guise they are no different than the Greatest Generation storming Normandy on D-Day, endorsing North Korea’s Kim Jong Un over Trump, or writing off ‘jihad’ as a noble struggle, they continue to pick unpopular battles in culture and against a large chunk of the country they lost with Hillary Clinton in 2016.
On top of all this, Democrats also seem to be embracing such noble causes as coming out against due process for Americans accused of crimes, such as sexual assault. In response to Education Secretary Betsy Devos tossing Obama era Title IX practices on college campuses, Senator Diane Feinstein tweeted, “Sec. DeVos is putting rights of the accused above those of sexual assault victims. Absolutely unconscionable.” Beyond apparently never bothering to read "To Kill a Mockingbird," Feinstein is demanding her party stand up against the right of due process, the very thing, as it turns out, Kaepernick was protesting.
My question to the Democrats (and media) is simple: What voters in that big chunk of the country turned red do you plan to win back on a platform of kneeling for the national anthem, revoking due process, removing monuments of our founders, sympathizing with jihad, glorifying property-destroying (and journalist-punching) thugs or backing Kim Jong Un in a nuclear showdown? The more the left has ramped up its cultural war, the more their governing power has diminished. Who cares if the Affordable Care Act wiped them from the electoral map, as long as Jimmy Kimmel gets his sick burns in.
Donald Trump’s election should have been a giant wake up call to both the media and the left that the causes they care about and blast out with their bylines are not the issues Americans care about. They may view Donald Trump’s twitter commentary as beneath the office of the presidency, but they can forgive a lot when the other party is demanding they bend the knee.
Stephen L. Miller has written for Heat Street and National Review Online. Follow him on Twitter at @redsteeze.