Over the last few years, kneeling during the national anthem has become a prominent topic of discussion in the world of sports. It’s something that continues to draw much criticism and controversy. That’s a conversation that Hall of Famer John Elway touched upon a few years ago, but didn’t exactly hold the same strong stance that Mike Ditka recently voiced.
Mike Ditka’s strong stance on kneeling
In the last couple of days, Mike Ditka has made many headlines regarding his strong words regarding kneeling during the national anthem.
During an interview with TMZ over the weekend, Ditka didn’t mince his words by stating that he believes those who kneel should leave the country.
“If you can’t respect our national anthem, get the hell out of the country,” Ditka said. “That’s the way I feel. Of course, I’m old fashioned, so I’m only going to say what I feel.”
“You don’t protest against the flag and you don’t protest against this country who’s given you the opportunities to make a living playing a sport that you never thought would happen. So, I don’t want to hear all the crap.”
These comments saw Ditka face much criticism for his stern stance. It falls along the lines of similar sentiment that he has expressed over the years. Many also voiced their support for Ditka’s viewpoint and beliefs regarding the matter.
John Elway’s stance about kneeling during the national anthem
Back in September 2017, the sports world was riled up with the discussion around kneeling during the national anthem. That began with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick electing to kneel during the 2016 season.
In September the following year with President Donald Trump making strong remarks at a rally in Huntsville, Alabama, stating that “wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when someone disrespects our flag to say, ‘get that son of a b***h off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired.”
Many players voiced disgruntlement with the comments, leading many to kneeling during the national anthem before Week 3 games. In response to that entire matter, Broncos general manager John Elway voiced then that he stands during the national anthem, but understands why the players chose to kneel.
“I’m one that believes in standing for the National Anthem, and I’ve always believed that. I believe that this is the greatest country in the world. We are very fortunate to live here, but it’s obviously not perfect. There are a lot of things that need to be corrected, and we will continue to work on those things. I’m one that really believes in standing for the flag. I understand the players and the way they felt from the comments that were made earlier in the week.
“They felt they had to go down and kneel and that’s up to them. Hopefully as we go forward we can start concentrating on football a little bit more. Take the politics out of football. But I think that last week was a good show of unity by the NFL and hopefully this week we can move forward.”
Elway’s stance is firm but does hold an understanding of how the players felt during the entire situation. He also acknowledged that there is much change that still needs to occur in the United States. It shouldn’t create any backlash toward those that choose to stand during the national anthem. At the same time, the dialogue sways differently to those that kneel.
The connotation becomes a conversation about disrespecting the flag and the military. However, the reasoning behind kneeling has solely to do with bringing attention to the social injustices that the Black community continues to face.
Where things could improve
There’s no way around, the conversation around kneeling during the national anthem continues to draw sharp criticism.
It has become quite challenging to put a clear message that the action of kneeling is one that doesn’t have the intention of disrespecting the American flag or the military in any manner. That has become a conversation that Mike Ditka has firmly stood one side of the fence with a harsh consequence in mind for those who kneel.
It shouldn’t create a combative discussion around that action, but bring attention to the Black community and many other minorities that continually face the social struggles. That’s where those that kneel want the dialogue to lead to solely. It’s not to create controversy or to send a negative message toward the flag or military.
The passion for the flag, respect for that serve the military, and the country as a whole are not in question. That is where things become awry and go down an unintended path that strays away from the message directed at substantial social change for minorities.