Trump’s NFL comments are way off mark


Keith Allison

Raiders at Redskins 9/24/17

Lovie Smith said it best: “For this many people to feel like they need to take a stand against it, then something is wrong.”

On Friday, Trump openly called NFL owners to fire any “son of a bitch” that follows Colin Kaepernick’s lead and kneels through the national anthem.

It’s not the first time professional athletes have criticized the president, but it’s the first time the president has flippantly criticized the NFL.

Trump claimed these players were disrespecting the flag by kneeling.

Trump’s comments spread a false rhetoric about what the true goals of the protest are. These athletes are simply using their constitution-given rights to peacefully protest against racial inequality and police brutality two things that are unarguably problems in America today.

Since Kaepernick began his protest over a year ago, Smith has made it clear that his players will never be silenced. He knows he is molding young men when he is holding his position as head football coach. He knows he is a role model to his players and his fans, so he holds his position with as much dignity and class as possible. He sets out to set an example every day.

“This is what I tell our team,” Smith said at a press conference Monday. “I want them to be involved in their community and what’s going on in their worlds. I want them to be involved in politics. They should support a candidate and know why. Be vocal about it. If they don’t like something, say so. If they remain silent, that means they like things the way they are. As a basic rule, that’s what we go with. If there’s something someone feels strongly about, I assume they will let us know that.”

He went on to say that he does not tell players what to do or say in press conferences.

None of the above holds true for President Trump, as he made it clear he wanted NFL players to be fired immediately if they choose to kneel during the anthem.

For fans and students that might be wondering, the Illini will likely not be joining in on the protest. It is not a part of their pregame routine to be on the field for the national anthem. To be clear, that routine has not been in protest nor will it be in the future. It has just been part of game day.

But Illini players could very well still make their stance known on the field in other ways. They play on Friday night, putting them in the first round of games to play since Trump’s fully inappropriate comments were made. They are on the stage. It is up to them if they act. If they do, all power to them. If they don’t, that is their call and there is nothing wrong with that decision.

While Trump’s comments continued to divide an already contentious political climate, they also led numerous athletes to join in on the protests. Owners —including the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Shahid Khan, a University alum who was one of many to contribute large amounts of money to the Trump campaign — also joined their players on the field to show support. The number of protesters multiplied over two days. By trying to undermine the NFL, Trump gave them more power.

When you hold one of the most respected positions in the world, what you say is final. There is no erasing; there are only attempts to cover up.

This one he will never cover up. He, and everybody criticizing the protests, claims the athletes are disrespecting the flag by kneeling. That isn’t their goal, but it seems that Trump’s goal is to disrespect everything our country stands for.

The protest has spread to the MLB. It was already in the NBA and WNBA.

It is only a matter of time before it reaches college sports, because when something is wrong, people will do what they can to make sure it is known.

And something is wrong.