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Colin Kaepernick kneeling alongside Eric Reid during the National Anthem.

Colin Kaepernick kneeling alongside Eric Reid during the National Anthem.

Photo taken by Thearon W. Henderson

Photo taken by Thearon W. Henderson

Colin Kaepernick kneeling alongside Eric Reid during the National Anthem.

Matt Murray, Staff Writer

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Being one of the most recognized football athletes in the United States, what Colin Kaepernick does, leaves quite a bit of influence on others. However this truly backfired on him and on people when Kaepernick decided to sit and kneel during the National Anthem.

On August 26, the public noticed that Kaepernick had sat down during the National Anthem. Although this wasn’t the first time he sat through the anthem, on August 14 and 20 he had also sat but his actions went unnoticed by the public. He carried out this protest in the wake of the oppression against people of color. It was September 1 when he started to kneel during the anthem after receiving many negative comments on his previous decision.

Though it wasn’t its primary purpose at the time, the National Anthem today is sung to honor all of those who have served this country. Many people, felt that Kaepernick, and some others, who repeated the same action, dishonor the soldiers by not standing.

As a result of his protest, one pee wee football team, in Las Vegas, chose to kneel during the National Anthem that played at one of their games. However, only a few players on the team kneeled, the whole team received negative comments, just like Kaepernick. It was the kids’ decision but the coach gave the “ok” in the end.

This was just one of the increasing instances where Kaepernick had influenced others to partake in what he did. This shows his influence in others, especially being such a “high and mighty” figure in sports. Being so famous, Kaepernick has the power to influence many people, even students here at Heritage. The conflict, when mentioned, does upset quite a bit of people today, but how is this at Heritage?

“He is a very disrespectful person, you should not kneel to America’s National Anthem,” Ryley Sine (10) said.

Some believe his protest is disrespectful, like Sine, because the anthem is meant to honor those who served and by keeling or sitting, you are dishonoring those people. Although, some argue that Kaepernick was just exercising his rights. Though that statement is true, the interviewed students at Heritage thought it better to exercise these rights at another location or another time. Not at a time to remember and honor soldiers who fought to keep us and this country free.

“I feel like there is not a correct way to use free speech, that’s why it’s called free speech, but I don’t feel like he was using it responsibly,” Jacob Alves (10) stated.

Some feel his actions are irresponsible because his influence could affect others in making harmful decisions, perhaps forcing others to partake in the protests. Kaepernick has influence on others after all, but he also has rights. Freedom of speech was designed to protect anyone from being punished for speaking against government. Though some may not like what other’s say or do, like Kaepernick, it is that person’s right. Kaepernick’s protest is protected whether irresponsible to some and downright disrespectful to others.

However, there are also those who understand why he did what he did. Though some may not be entirely on board with Kaepernick’s decision, they are not ones to disgrace him for his actions. When asked what his opinion was, Joshua Whitman (12) gave quite the answer.

“I don’t agree with how he did it, but he does have the freedom to do so. And so not agreeing with it is kind of going against the freedom of speech would kind of be going against the Amendments and the Constitution,” Whitman (12) stated.

He does have a valuable point, our freedoms were written for us to use, especially in a situation such as this one, Kaepernick’s protests. Whitman also had another statement to add about how this would affect Heritage and what has the students’ opinions been like over the past few months.

“Heritage specifically, I honestly don’t think it (the controversy) will have a big effect on it (the students). I mean, teenagers, as we are, we kind of are really into something for like one to three days until it’s like off of Twitter and then we just don’t really care about it anymore because we don’t see it,” Whitman (12) said.

When the various students, at Heritage were interviewed, almost all of them said, their info came from social media and the Heritage Ledger, including Whitman. In fact, many of the students didn’t remember most of the events that happened with Kaepernick and needed an explanation. Even though the country is affected it seems as if Heritage is not. Social media dominates most high schooler’s lives, so it can be easily explained that if something isn’t on social media, it isn’t very relevant to a high schooler. This statement can be connected to the controversy and the students’ opinions.

Despite sparking controversy and anger amidst the people, people are now following Kaepernick’s peaceful protests, most of these, are NFL football players. Though the question remains, was what he did wrong or right? Whether his decision was or wasn’t, only two results have been produced at Heritage, whether you know the conflict or not. Whatever side you are on, supporting or condemning his actions, chances are, Heritage will forget. This controversy will pass over the school and not even affect us.

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