During the weekend, in a landmark move, more than 200 NFL players took the knee, linked arms or stayed in their locker rooms during the national anthem before a game.
"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag to say get that son of a b**** off the field right now, out, he's fired, he's fired," said Trump during a rally in Alabama on Sept. 22.
The president and his cronies have repeatedly tried to brand this particular kind of protest as un-American and disrespectful to the U.S. military.
It is anything but that.
The stance is, in fact, a protest against racial discrimination and police brutality that so many black Americans and other minorities face in the country every day.
But apparently, many white Americans are blind to this fact.
The “bend the knee” movement was first started by San Francisco’s 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick about a year ago.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder,” said the player in an interview.
Initially, Kaepernick simply sat on a bench during the national anthem during a preseason game — a move that did not draw too much attention. However, soon after he changed his pose by going down on a knee, saying he was doing so to show respect for the U.S. military veterans.
The protest earned him a huge amount of backlash from football fans and the public in general. Many people criticized him for mixing sports with politics. But the quarterback did not back down.
The movement gained traction and more and more athletes joined the protest.
After Trump’s comments, which many have called “divisive,” many teams voiced their support saying freedom of expression within the sports is very important.
Statement from Buffalo Bills Owners Terry and Kim Pegula. pic.twitter.com/i3D5xzBBSn— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) September 24, 2017
The movement has now also spread to celebrities and civil rights advocates.
As for mixing politics with sports, the idea is hardly unprecedented.
Legendary boxer Muhammad Ali is perhaps the best known American athlete to take a major political stand. Ali refused to enlist in the Vietnam War after he noted the irony of asking black men to fight in Vietnam while they were being “treated like dogs and denied simple human rights” in the U.S.
The stance resulted in Ali’s arrest, suspension of his boxing license and stripping of his title.
Banner/Thumbnail credit: Reuters, Stephen Lam