Here’s the Shocking Way National Anthem Protests Changed Sports Forever

The national anthem protest started out as a pretty divisive subject. Initially, it was just San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sitting on the bench by himself. Then, an ex-green beret told him he should kneel like his fellow soldiers did to honor their fallen brothers. Then, the rumble grew to a roar and players from all teams began to join in.

They’d lock arms or kneel beside each other. Even as the protest grew louder and louder, few would hear the reason why. It was too drowned out by the noise of false patriotism and divisive language used by too many. It was something that was heard but never listened to. Then, along came Donald Trump, and things only got crazier from there.

The protest that so many players, coaches, and owners are unifying participating in now is one to bring attention to police brutality toward the black community in America. It’s about racial inequality. It has never been and never will be about disrespecting the flag, our troops, or the National Anthem.

So when President Trump referred to the players participating in the protest as “sons of b*tches,” he finally did something great for this country: That statement echoed throughout sports and shined a glaring light on what the protest was about (as much as the right wants to deny it is) and launched the conversation into the forefront. Since then, you can see the effects everywhere. People have taken notice, changed their minds, or at least have come to the table to have an honest conversation. This is how the world of sports is “Making America Great Again”

Donald Trump inadvertently unites his opposition

Trump at UN assembly

Donald Trump, in the flesh | Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump has taken an oath to defend the Constitution, yet at every turn, he has seemingly no idea what is actually in the constitution or lacks a fundamental understanding of what those rights mean. In this particular case, the first amendment; “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

In its purest nature, Kaepernick’s silent, sideline, non-threatening protest is the absolute most peaceful way to petition his and the black communities for a redress of grievances. To deny that right, or to have business owners deny that right by firing anyone whom dare defies the government in any perceivable or non-perceivable way, is authoritarian (which is in itself, the biggest disrespect for our flag).

Many people are coming around to see this for what it really is, as the turning point in a debate that has been hindered by misconceptions for far too long. Take a look at how the world of sports is kneeling down to uplift a community in need.

Next: An NFL owner who financially supported Trump is now turning his back on him

Robert Kraft becomes a true Patriot

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft | Darren McCollester/Getty Images

It is no secret that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft donated large sums of money to the Trump campaign. What truly fascinates us though, is that Kraft so publicly did an about-face to the Trump regime, when he walked out onto that field and locked arms with his players in unity against police brutality. After all, that’s the American way: To petition your government for a redress of grievances.

Next: One of Trump’s biggest supporters abandons ship

Rex Ryan was Trump’s biggest supporter

Head coach Rex Ryan of the Buffalo Bills

Head coach Rex Ryan of the Buffalo Bills | Elsa/Getty Images

Buffalo Bills Head Coach Rex Ryan was one of Donald Trump’s earliest and most faithful supporters during his campaign. Ryan even threw fundraising events to raise money. Following Trump’s statements openly attacking the NFL and the players, Ryan since changed his views on what he stands for. He now stands with his former team, the Buffalo Bills, who were among the many who protested during the national anthem.

Next: This goes further than the football field

LeBron James weighs in on the protest

LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers | FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

LeBron James is arguably the biggest name in professional basketball. He is a star on a level of which we’ve rarely seen in the sport, save for a few exceptions. At a press conference this past week, he spoke about the acts of unity across the NFL, and how important it is to have the honest conversation as to why the protests are happening.

“I salute the NFL, the players, the coaches, the owners and the fans … it was unbelievable. There was solidarity. There was no divide, no divide even from that guy that continues to try to divide us as people,” LeBron told reporters at a press conference on Monday.

Next: The San Antonio Spurs head coach speaks out

Coach Gregg Popovich may be the most woke coach ever

Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs

Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs | Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Last week, Trump miffed the NBA when he childishly called off his invite for the Golden State Warriors, after he found out that Steph Curry might not attend. Naturally, many players and coaches had their opinions on the matter, but it was San Antonio Spurs Coach, Greg Popovich, who gave us the most insightful hot take of them all. He led into his statement saying that he’d have to “write a book” to explain the situation accurately. But he did leave us with one of the most powerful statements to come from a coach yet:

Race is the elephant in the room and we all understand that, but unless it is talked about constantly, it’s not gonna get better … People say “Why do we have to talk about that? It’s uncomfortable.” It’s supposed to be uncomfortable. There has to be an uncomfortable element to keep the discourse going for anything to change.

Popovich’s statements can be found here. We highly recommend taking the time to hear what the man has to say, as he does such a great job of actually explaining the situation.

Next: Will the NBA adopt the protest in light of the newfound solidarity of the NFL?

Is the NBA going to follow suit with the NFL?

National Basketball Association (NBA) commissioner Adam Silver listens

National Basketball Association (NBA) commissioner Adam Silver listens | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

At this point, it’s impossible to say. There have definitely been a lot of athletes who have expressed their dissatisfaction. Obviously, there are a lot of coaches who share that sentiment as well. But whether or not the NBA as a whole will join in solidarity against systemic racial inequality, that is yet to be seen. We will just have to wait if they answer the call when the season starts.

Next:  The real thing we should be wondering is if the NFL will continue to carry on with the protest

 Will the NFL stay the course?

National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell

National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell | Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

There are two outcomes to this scenario, and both are equally and oppositely powerful. The first is that the NFL allows the protest to continue until meaningful change is enacted in policing procedures and training. Conversely, the NFL can go back on the protest. This will just go to show that the leadership throughout the NFL does not actually care for the situation. Worst of all, Trump will be vindicated in his views on the matter, and the entire movement will be set back a long way.

The power is in your hands, NFL. Do you inch forward or fall back? The choice is yours.

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