On August 26, 2016 San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick first gained national attention when he kneeled while in his football uniform on the sidelines during the singing of the national anthem.
His actions started a nation-wide trend that has trickled down to youth sports. And for some, like this youth football team from Texas, the result was a very short season.
Stories are cropping from around the country of teams that are joining the protest and the sports parenting response from those on the Sportsparenting Facebook Page to this type of action in youth sports has been varied:
I’d be inclined to believe that most kids don’t fully understand and probably shouldn’t be protesting anything. I think community events should stay neutral in the public eye and remain a safe space for kids. I think talking about something of this nature should be up to the parents.
Any sportsman/sportswoman who disrespect their countries flag or anthem should be de-registered from their sport and never allowed to participate in sports again.
We have to protest for equality everywhere we can. Thats our best chance to ever reach it.
Those kids don’t fully understand what they are even doing.
NO! it is getting out of hand, leave the country if you don’t like our ways. you don’t have to recite or sing along but just stand there and shut up. or you go fight for your freedom to kneel.
How should sports parents react to this kneeling trend?
There are several ways that sports parents and coaches can respond to the kneeling trend:
Ban it altogether.
Support it 100%.
Support it, but express disapproval.
I’d like to suggest a 5th option, a plan that will perhaps do more to help the problem being protested and will in the process teach your kids a very valuable life lesson.
Here’s the plan:
Talk about the issue with your kids/team. Don’t just rant and express your own opinion. Listen to their viewpoints. Ask them questions like: Why is this issue so important to you personally? What do you think that kneeling during the national anthem is saying to those who watch?
Do Something. Talk with your kids/team about specific things that they can do to fight racism in a peaceful way, things that will really make a difference, starting with how they treat others on the team. If this is an issue that they are truly concerned about, help them find ways to actually do something about it–Getting involved in community service, looking for ways to serve, not SIT.
Remind them that one person’s protest might be another person’s insult. Of course, everyone has the right to protest, that’s one of our country’s freedoms. But how about teaching our kids how to protest without insulting an entire group of citizens, namely the men and women who gave their lives, who fought for our freedom, and who continue to fight for our right to sing that national anthem? It’s personal for them because they are risking their lives every day for us. Can we not find another way to protest that does not disrespect all that they have done and continue to do?
Somehow we’ve gotten it into our heads that in order to protest, we have to be insulting others. But the definition of protest–“
That’s the lesson that our kids need to be learning. Protesting with respect for others.
Perhaps it is the harder route because it takes creativity and viable solutions, not just gestures.
As parents and coaches, we should be concerned about helping our kids find ways to stand up for what’s right–ways that will truly make a positive difference in the lives of others, and ways that, in the process, do not disrespect others.