Seven weeks into football season and I have yet to see the opening ceremonies for a single game. I can’t recall seeing them televised for any baseball games in a very long time either. I understand the sensitivities regarding professional athletes kneeling for the National Anthem and the potential fallout the professional sports organizations and sponsors fear regarding what has become such a controversial issue, but I have to voice my dissent with the course of action you have chosen. I get it, you are worried about sales, marketing, revenue, etc. However, you have chosen not only to side with a very small minority of your viewer base, but have failed to publicly address your rationale and give all of your viewers the opportunity to express their concerns and opinions.
I cannot speak for anyone other than myself, but I have an opinion and wish to share it with you. I love the American Flag. That’s my flag that represents my country, the greatest place on this earth to live. I am honored to have served this country and wear that flag on my uniform. Whether at sporting events, just being outside on base when reveille or retreat sounds off, or watching the opening ceremonies of a game in my living room, my daughter and I always stop to render the proper customs and courtesies for our anthem. Not because it is a conditioned response, but because I have grown to truly love and appreciate the anthem, the flag, and the freedom and liberty provided by the greatest country I am blessed to live in. It’s not a political or social issue for me. It’s just pure and simple pride and appreciation for everything this country has given me and the opportunities it has afforded me to give something back.
I understand that some people have a very different perspective and have chosen the flag and the anthem at sporting events as their target to express their objections to problems they perceive in our current society. I don’t care. The initial shock factor has faded and no one is surprised if anyone kneels anymore. Let them. Malcolm Jenkins is the only one who has been able to effectively articulate the specific reason behind the protest in a way that makes me want to listen and understand and wish to actually learn more about, but he is not the one getting the Nike commercials and the rest just come off as belligerent bandwagoners, in my opinion. Player conduct is the responsibility of the organizations and the team owners to govern and it is not my place to demonize or protest those who do kneel because I disagree with an activity that is not in violation of league or team policy. If I don’t want to see it, I won’t watch. That is my responsibility and my choice. I choose to accept the disagreement and watch anyway.
I love the opening ceremonies. I love seeing various celebrities, local talents, and military personnel performing that national anthem. I love the flyovers. I love the fireworks. I love the cheers. I love seeing players like Larry Fitzgerald run out to wave the giant flag with the military members on the field. Brings a tear to my eyes every time and makes me love the game even more. I want to stand in my living room before the games with my daughter so we can both put our right hands over our hearts and appreciate our anthem, our flag, and the efforts of all those involved in making the opening ceremony on the field so special for all in attendance at that game. I don’t care if anyone kneels. It doesn’t affect me. It is not fair that the few who kneel have the power to deny the rest of us who don’t the privilege of standing for what we believe in and something we love.
The more time I have spent thinking about those who kneel for the anthem, the more I have come to realize that I do not and likely will never understand their perspective or their motives. I cannot judge them. I didn’t grow up in their world and any criticisms I may have are just as hollow and meaningless to them as their protest may be to me. If they want to kneel, I don’t care. Unless told otherwise by the organizations or their team owners, it’s none of my business and not my problem. I just want to stand for my anthem and my flag. I respectfully request that you grant my wish to restore the televising of the opening ceremonies with the national anthem to professional sporting events so those of us who love and believe in the beauty and greatness of our country can once again be made to feel that our pride is not an offense, regardless of the small percentage who have minimal impact on your revenues.
Please, let me stand.