The last few years have seen a significant increase in social change across all platforms in the United States. It has seen the recent tragic events involving the Black community see a more substantial effort from the sports world to back massive societal transformation. That has directed the conversation toward kneeling during the national anthem with the message remaining firmly on bringing more awareness and support toward creating much-needed change. However, that message remains lost on Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Ditka.
Strong push for social change
That push has picked up over the last few months, with the increasing number of social injustices continuing to occur. It truly began to garner national attention after the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. The talk transitioned to the NFL players becoming more vocal than they have ever been since Kaepernick first kneeled.
Many notable NFL players such as Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Michael Thomas, DeAndre Hopkins, Odell Beckham Jr., Ezekiel Elliott, and Tyrann Mathieu voiced their concerns. That pushed commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL to commit $250 million over the next 10 years to help end systemic racism.
However, throughout it all, the core of the message of kneeling during the national anthem remains lost on Hall of Famer Mike Ditka.
Mike Ditka holds strong stance against kneeling
When Colin Kaepernick initially decided to kneel during the national anthem, the action’s reasoning was lost in the discussion.
That quickly changed to centering the conversation around disrespecting the flag and the military, which was never the feasible correlation. It’s something that still holds the notion in the mind of Hall of Famer Mike Ditka as he recently told TMZ that he believes those who kneel during the national anthem should leave the United States.
“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.”
Ditka is the chairman of the X League, a women’s tackle football organization. His response was one that was solely based on his position regarding protesting during the national anthem.
These comments from the former Chicago Bears coach shouldn’t come with much surprise; he has made several puzzling remarks over the last few years. In October 2017, he told Jim Gray (via NBC Sports from Westwood One Radio) that “there has been no oppression in the last 100 years.” That was in direct response to being asked about some players protesting social injustices.
Beyond the blatant disregard for the ongoing social issues, it shows that the message remains lost on many.
Social change message continues to be misunderstood
As disappointing as it continues to be that many remain ignorant about the push for social change, it gives a grander picture of society.
That further underlines the need for massive social transformation that plagues the country. It’s the leading factor to the many issues that keep minorities, especially the Black community, in the vicious cycle of oppression and mistreatment. Change is needed in a significant way and has for many years.
There is no way around; the United States remains a country beset with racial tension and inequality. If Mike Ditka’s comments do anything at all, it further underlines that push to a greater extent.