What started as a silent solo protest has snowballed into a national stance against racial inequalities and social injustices in America. On August 14, 2016 Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers quarterback, sat down during the national anthem in the team’s first pre- season game. His actions did not gain attention until the third pre-season game when Jennifer Lee, a producer for Niners Nation, posted an unrelated twitter post that happen to capture Kaepernick sitting during the anthem. Almost two months later, his actions are still gaining attention and have triggered a variety of emotions ranging from enragement to empowerment among the public. Many other athletes from football, basketball, and beyond have chosen to join the protest, such as National Women Soccer League player Megan Rapinoe. There have also been high school and college athletes who have joined the protest – the Howard University cheerleaders and the Garfield High School football team in Seattle.
The act of not standing during the national anthem challenges traditional concepts of patriotism. Many argue that the national anthem is a moment that unites all American citizens despite their race, religion or economic background; while, the opposition believes the anthem is a gilded device to cover up the injustices in America, qSample sought out to gauge the public’s response to these recent events. Is it patriotic or not to not stand during the national anthem?
We conducted a survey with our general population panel to understand their opinion regarding professional athletes like Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem. Nearly 300 responses were collected. While 12% of the respondents agree this is a form of patriotism, the majority (43%) of respondents indicated that the decision to kneel during the national anthem was unpatriotic. Another 23% disagree with his action, but indicated that it is his individual right to protest. This shows that the majority of respondents do not support this protest; however, nearly 12% agree but feel it is the wrong venue. Combined, almost a quarter of the panelists support this protest with a remaining (9.39%) who are somewhat undecided.
The results alone illustrate there is a wide range of conversations regarding this protest and there is a significant number of people who are passionate about this stance. Since this protest is heavily charged by race relations, we took into account the demographics of the participants. Majority of the panelists were over the age of 50 and identified themselves as Caucasian (79.06%) with ethnic minorities only representing roughly 21% of the sample. Also 65.34% of the panelists were female with only 34.66% of males represented. The gender of the panelist is an appealing point since this protest has been initiated by the sports community, which is commonly considered a male dominated arena.
Overall, this protest has not gone unnoticed and continues to be a conversation piece across every region of the United States and beyond. Even in the NBA, a number of athletes have begun to follow suit on this issue; we have seen teams such as the Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, and Houston Rockets join arms in solidarity during the national anthem. No matter what side you take on this issue, we can all agree the protest has sparked conversation.
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