Kneeling because it’s American



Zach Thomann, Sports Editor

The Black Student Union and the brothers of Phi Beta Sigma at Utica College held an event called #BoycottNFL in the Strebel lounge on Monday to discuss the recent protests going on in the NFL.

One of the students leading the discussion was Black Student Union Vice President Demetrius Pettway who wants to inform people on how these protests started and why they are important to society.

“The purpose of this is to shed light on Colin Kaepernick and help people understand what his goals were when he took a knee,” Pettway said.

Kaepernick was a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers last season when he opted not to stand during the national anthem. His claim for not standing was that the flag symbolizes freedom, but there are still racial injustices today.

This has drawn a large amount of national media attention that Pettway believes isn’t always expressing the goal of Kaepernick’s protests correctly.

“I think his goal was to speak out on police brutality against minorities,” Pettway said. “But some people think that he is against our military and is disrespecting the flag.”

Kaepernick is currently a free agent this season, but protests from the NFL have grown after President Donald Trump vocally disapproved of players kneeling during the national anthem.

The leaders of #BoycottNFL highlighted that players boycotting this season may not have the same purpose that Kaepernick had last year. They showed a clip where former NFL player Shannon Sharpe questioned if players were protesting against racial injustices or were just showing solidarity against Trump’s comments.

Public relations officer for the Black Student Union Jayson Bretton encouraged all students to voice their opinions at the discussion.

“Anybody that wanted to learn more about the boycotts was welcome to come,” Bretton said.

Bretton feels that this type of event is important to society because students can be misinformed by the media.

“I feel like people can be ignorant to the situation because there are so many different stories out there,” Bretton said.

The leaders of the event ended their presentation with an open discussion with members of the audience where everyone could express their opinions.

Sophomore volleyball player Monique Fletcher was one of many students who voiced her opinion during the discussion. She wants to see the protests reach more sports than just football.

“As the only black player on my team, I’d be uncomfortable to kneel and I’m sure many people would tell me to stand,” Fletcher said.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a tweet that athletes will have to stand during the anthem because it is in their contract. For other professional sports, it is unclear if teams will take a stance on the issue.

The NFL released a statement Sept. 21 in response to Trump’s comments and saying why the protests are important for the league.

“The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture,” the statement said. “There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we’ve experienced over the last month. Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.”

There has been a limited amount of protests at the college level, but UC Athletic Director David Fontaine would not hesitate to support athletes if they choose to do so.

I would first hope they come to me ahead of time and we can talk about that,” Fontaine said. “I certainly would not stop somebody from a peaceful protest. People have the right to exercise their feelings as long as it’s in a peaceful manner. I would not prohibit them from doing that because it’s not my role. My role is to make sure it is done in a way that is appropriate and it is not a violent way.”