NFL controversy explained

Empty gesture or meaningful protest?

For the past two years, American football players have knelt during the U.S. national anthem as a sign of protest against police brutality, racism, and the spread of hate crimes that have followed the election of Donald Trump. There was no kneeling at the Super Bowl LIII but the events that occurred made perhaps even greater a statement. The youngest child of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., Dr Bernice A. King, was brought out for the coin toss and was joined by two other civil rights leaders, Ambassador Andrew Young and Representative John Lewis, whilst a video played pre-game of the activists and NFL players doing charity work. Atlanta, the location of Super Bowl LIII, is known as the cradle of the civil rights movements, so such imagery seemed fitting. 

While some viewed this as an empowering and meaningful message, others claimed it was an empty gesture -  a way for the NFL to avoid the accusations of racism towards their players. Fans of Colin Kaepernick who started the protest in 2016, shared the hashtag #ImWithKap to show their support of his actions, and other declared they wouldn’t watch the Super Bowl, accusing the NFL of internal racism issues. Perhaps the famous sports league is really trying to improve their obvious issues. Or maybe this is yet another publicity stunt. What do you think? 


Natalia V