With the Black Lives Matter movement quickly becoming the cause du jour after George Floyd’s death, the case of athletes kneeling during America’s national anthem went from being a high-profile, but rather uncommon action (which the National Football League banned in 2018 before an about face this year) to being so common among millionaire athletes as to be practically meaningless.
America’s sports-viewing public quickly reached the place where kneeling during the anthem no longer carries shock value. Those who support Black Lives Matter now expect some show of support from their favorite players and teams, and those who oppose its goals have either stopped watching sports entirely, or now tune out the silent protest while impatiently waiting for the spectacle of the opening ceremonies to end and the game itself to finally begin.
Thus, it is the principled few not going along with the crowd, those not bending the knee to political correctness and Black Lives Matter, who are standing out for their beliefs. While their teammates and opponents may find it easier to give in to get along, there still remain a handful who value the country that made their unlikely careers (being paid millions to essentially play a game) possible.
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt is perhaps the most vocal of the athletes to have declared their decision to stand, with his social media posts earning many reactions.
In a tweet in late July, Tuitt stated, “I’m not kneeling for the flag and screw who have [sic] a problem with that. My grandmother was a [sic] immigrant from the Caribbean and… worked her a** off to bring 20 people over the right way.”
This was in stark contrast to the words of his teammate Cameron Heyward, who Fox News reported as saying the Steelers would “protest in unity.” Tuitt’s tweet also earned the displeasure of teammate Zach Banner, who retweeted Tuitt’s message with a caption in part reading “do not associate this message with me, or others who will decide to kneel.”
Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac was the only player on his team (possibly the whole of the NBA) not to take a knee as the league restarted after the coronavirus break. Standing 6’11’’ he was hard to miss on the sideline, and the fact that he wore the Magic’s white jersey instead of the Black Lives Matter shirts donned by all of his teammates made him stand out even more.
CNN reports that after the game, the 22-year-old Isaac, who is also an ordained minister, said he doesn’t think “putting that shirt on and kneeling went hand-in-hand supporting Black lives.”
"For me Black lives are supported through the gospel. All lives are supported through the gospel. We all have things that we do wrong and sometimes it gets to a place that we're pointing fingers at who's wrong is worst. Or who's wrong is seen, so I feel like the Bible tells us that we all fall short of God's glory. That will help bring us closer together and get past skin color. And get past anything that's on the surface and doesn't really get into the hearts or men and women."
After refusing to take a knee, Isaac unfortunately tore his ACL in a game a few days later. ESPN radio host Dan Le Batard asked, “Is it funny that the guy who refused to kneel immediately blew out his knee?” and ended up apologizing a bit later.
That is the low level of respect the politically correct mobs treat dissenters. No matter how well thought out their disagreements may be visceral ill-wishing and demonization are sure to follow.
San Francisco Giants pitcher Sam Coonrod was the only player on baseball’s opening day not to drop to a knee in support of Black Lives Matter. Fox News reports that after the game, Coonrod, a devout Christian, told reporters that he “can’t kneel before anything besides God.”
All of his teammates and the opposing Los Angeles Dodgers took a knee, as did all members of the Washington Nationals and New York Yankees, who played opening day’s other game. Coonrod also expanded his response, reports Fox News, and demonstrated he had done his homework on the movement.
"I just can’t get on board with a couple things I’ve read about Black Lives Matter, how they lean towards Marxism. And … they said some negative things about the nuclear family. I just can’t get on board with that.”
While our athletes, politicians, and all other manner of celebrities may have bowed to Black Lives Matter and political correctness as a rule, we can take heart in the examples of Coonrod, Isaac, and Tuitt. They demonstrate some of the best things about America in their responses, showing that faith based principles, independent thinking, and research do still sometimes rule the day over emotional responses to a given issue.
Anders Koskinen is an Editorial Associate at Intellectual Takeout. He earned his BA from the University of Minnesota in December 2016 where he graduated with a double major in Journalism and Political Science.