NFL players have shown ‘disrespect’ for the ‘great pyramid’
By Lew Avera
The recent kneeling for the national anthem and flag salute by National Football League (NFL) players has attracted much attention and created one of our nation’s current leading controversies.
I don’t usually write about political controversy and such things, but I have some real thoughts and perspectives on this, and I’m aware there are many competing points of view. The underlying theme by the NFL players has been to attempt to highlight racial discrimination, police brutality and to bring equality and justice to minorities.
According to the annual racial and gender report card published by TIDES, approximately 70 percent of NFL players are minorities, and there is no doubt many come from various types of social and economic backgrounds that face challenges. But the contradiction in this case is that although 70 percent of the NFL players are racial minorities, they have moved above the middle class in their economic wellbeing in their own way with athletic football talent.
Most players received college-level educational opportunities, but many chose to cut them short and did not graduate, merely using college as a “stepping stone” to the millions of dollars in NFL salary.
The first major issue in this is whether they have the “Constitutional right” to protest as they have, provided by the Bill of Rights, or whether the Constitution prohibits such behavior and requires them to “stand for the national anthem and flag salute.”
My own opinion is that they are not required by the Constitution to stand and salute. However, I think these demonstrations miss the real issue, which is respect for our country and those who have brought the country from its beginning to the great country it is today, which gave these NFL players the opportunity to become wealthy and move to the upper class economically.
I view our country as a “great pyramid”—the wide base at the bottom is the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War, both of which set us free. Building the pyramid upward are many factors such as the Constitution, states’ rights, elected governance, freedom of information, religious freedom, citizens’ rights to vote, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, educational opportunities, right to work laws, gender respect, health standards, charitable organizations, public education, labor standards, Selma/Little Rock and the right to protest.
At the very top and peak point, the “pinnacle” of the pyramid, is the American flag and national anthem of the United States. Those two symbols represent all that our country is and stands for and, to no small degree, those who have given their lives for our country since its beginning in 1776.
I think respect for all that the pinnacle stands for is the issue here. In this case, the NFL players have shown significant disrespect for it. I would hope that they could look at their own personal success in our country and become examples of how one can succeed in the U.S., regardless of ethnic, social or economic background, and support others to become successful too.
Lew Avera is a retired career officer, Lt. Col., U.S. Marine Corps. He was a director of the Talega HOA and served on the San Clemente Planning Commission from 2005-2013.