Kneeling During Anthem, Good; Kneeling To Pray, Bad

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More and more athletes kneel during the National Anthem before their games. They say they want to point out injustice in our country.

They have the right to do this. It is a right they, and their supporters, often point out.

But these protesters are not so quick to mention why it’s their right. Because they live in a free country. The flag they are disrespecting represents that freedom.

Are you upset about the athletes kneeling?  Me, too.

It would be easy to ignore – as simple as dismissing political speeches given by actors – if it were not for the media calling the athletes’ actions “courageous.”

I’m not sure why some of them are kneeling – some likely in reaction of President Donald Trump doing his (un-presidential) thing, calling for their jobs.

Regardless, this is freedom of expression. You are allowed to kneel in protest.

Just don’t kneel for other reasons … like in prayer.

Protest, good.

Prayer, bad.

Remember when Tim Tebow was quarterbacking the Denver Broncos in 2011? There was debate about Tebow’s abilities.

But the real fervor – the word used by the New York Times – was over Tebow’s kneeling in prayer on the field. Commentators criticized him for his overt displays of faith, and opposing players mocked him.

Tebow continued to kneel. Nothing in the rules against it.

Football coach Joseph Kennedy was not so fortunate. He lost his job for kneeling at the 50-yard line after games.

Kennedy, an assistant high school coach in Bremerton, Washington, used to lead his team and staff in prayer in the locker room, and then prayed at the 50-yard line after games. Students would join him and the school district squashed that because Kennedy was endorsing a religion.

The district would allow Kennedy to pray at the 50-yard line after everyone had left the stadium.

Kennedy agreed to this, but eventually began praying before all the parents and students exited. He was suspended, and eventually fired.

Kennedy unsuccessfully sued the school district.

Of course, there was a way for Kennedy to kneel in front of everyone – he could have knelt during the National Anthem.

The pro athletes’ protest is getting plenty of attention with help from the President of the United States. Trump, who still operates as if he still has a reality TV show, said during a rally last week that kneeling NFL players should be fired.

Trump also got the NBA upset. The 2017 champion Golden State Warriors were considering whether to accept an invitation to the White House – a practice with all championship teams (more on that in a minute). All-Star guard Steph Curry said he hoped the team would not go because of Trump.

Trump responded by saying Curry was no longer invited to the White House – picture the tantrum:  “Well, I don’t want you to come, so there,” followed by a foot stomp.

The Warriors naturally said that no one on the team will be attending.

Want to avoid such silliness in the future? Stop inviting professional athletes to the White House because they won the big game. It’s a dumb practice.

Invite those to the White House who have done something positive for this world. Remember President George H.W. Bush’s “Thousand Points of Light” program? It promoted community service.

Serving others. It’s a glorious concept.

People can be creative in helping – like the Night to Shine project that sponsors proms for those with special needs, providing a wonderful evening for young adults who would otherwise be left out. It is facilitated in 50 states and 11 countries and is sponsored by the same foundation that also helps orphans and sick children – the Tim Tebow Foundation.

Tebow knelt and was slammed. Now kneeling is in vogue, for other reasons.

But anyone can protest. Who will serve?


Kevin Thomas is a writer and former teacher, living with his wife and children in Standish, Maine.