Post first appeared on phillyinfluencer.com on Sept. 8, 2016.
My father has said a lot to me over the years. One thought in particular has always stuck out above the rest and I’ve really been able to apply it to current events as of late.
“You don’t need to do anything, kid,” he would say to me. “The only things you need to do in this country are pay your taxes and die.”
Usually that line from him, which I’ve now adopted into my own daily vernacular, came as a response when I said, “Dad, I need to go to this practice tonight,” or “Dad, I need to go to this meeting because my coach said so.”
Today, I’d say the same thing to any of these athletes who refuse to stand for the National Anthem.
This story came to the forefront after soon-to-be-completly-forgotten 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat for the national anthem during a preseason game and followed it up by saying he was doing it to protest the oppression African-Americans deal with in this country.
Other athletes have joined in by either kneeling, standing, or simply speaking out in support of Kaepernick’s actions, such as Jeremy Lane of the Seattle Seahawks. Also, former Philadelphia Eagle Myke Tavarres came out saying he would sit for the National Anthem, but quickly about faced.
Now the latest development has spilled over to the ice and the U.S. National Hockey team. USA coach John Tortorella told ESPN’s Linda Cohn the following when asked what he would do if one of his players sat during the Anthem.
“If any of my players sit on the bench for the National Anthem, they will sit there the rest of the game,” he said.
This public protest by athletes has created a stir throughout society, even for folks who are not sports fans. Many have complimented Kap on what he did and is doing and believe he has the right to do it. Others disagree and say that everyone should stand for our country’s national anthem.
However, as a member of a team, if a coach asks for you to stand for the anthem, you have to oblige, if you want to remain a part of that team. Many, including ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, said that Tortorella is overstepping as a coach and has no right to dictate whether his players should sit or stand.
Just as my father told me throughout my childhood, Americans don’t need to do anything. They do not need to stand for the national anthem, Pledge of Allegiance, God Bless America, or any display of American pride.
However, they do not need to play for the San Francisco 49ers, the Philadelphia Eagles, or represent the United States of America in hockey. They do not need to be a part of those organizations.
These athletes choose to play the game they love and if they play for a league, or a coach, which prohibits not standing for the national anthem, then they need to choose between being a part of that organization or continuing the protest. The organization holds every right to discipline said athlete.
These athletes believe they do not need to stand for the National Anthem and so be it, however, as my dad told me again and again, you do not need to do anything, but pay taxes and die in this country. So, Colin Kaepernick, Myke Tavarres, Jeremy Lane, and all the other professional athletes who support not standing for the National Anthem, you can be Americans and not stand, but if you face opposition or even consequences from leaders within the organization you play for or the league you play in, just remember, you do not need to be anything in this world other than a tax-paying person who eventually dies.