Tag Archives: Football

When does symbolic speech turn into an action, and is no longer protected by the first amendment?

Symbolic speech is one of the ways Americans are able to protest and demonstrate how they feel about certain topics. One topic that has been very controversial lately is taking a knee. According to Mic Network, one NFL player in particular, “Colin Kaepernick has been taking a knee during the national anthem to call attention to police brutality and injustice in black America.” The other side, believes it is disrespectful to our country, troops, and nation. The real question is when does symbolic speech turn into an action that is no longer protected by the first amendment? Should it be okay for these players to kneel? Is it not their choice to do this? Colin Kaepernick started this whole trend and stated how he was doing it to show more respect to the troops. He didn’t think it was fair that people were murdering people of color and then getting away with it scot free, and not to mention also getting paid! After a while, President Trump finally stepped in and said something. He believed this was absurd and disrespectful to our troops and nation. Not to mention the white house. He wanted a NFL owner to take them off the field and fire them on the spot. My question to Mr. President is, is standing for the flag a law? With all do respect, last time I checked we were free to do what what we want as long as we are not disturbing others, and what they are doing. I understand how people may take this the wrong way, but the message of this stance has nothing to do with the troops. It has to do with how people of color in our country do not receive proper treatment. The Sun states, “Even Jaguars owner Shad Khan, who donated $1million to Trump’s presidential campaign, stood and locked arms.” A clear supporter of president Trump is even taking a stand. Showcasing this has nothing to do with disrespecting our country, but demonstrating support for the problem at hand. These type of protest go all the way back in time. The independent explains, “Muhammad Ali refused to serve in the Vietnam War which involved jail time because he would not go fight for a country where he is treated as subhuman.” The nation wants respect from these groups when they are not given the same respect back. Everyone in The United States of America should be treated as equal, but that does not always happen. The action of kneeling during the national anthem is not harming anyone. The message of it is not to disrespect anyone, but to have people open their eyes, and realize there is a problem in our country. One that is a lot bigger than kneeling for our national anthem.


Works Cited

Aaronlmorrison. “Why Are Athletes Kneeling during the National Anthem? Here’s What You Need to Know.” Mic, Mic Network Inc., 25 Sept. 2017, mic.com/articles/154349/why-are-athletes-kneeling-during-the-national-anthem-here-s-what-you-need-to-know#.jxCVDgxmI.

Clark Mindock                              New York                       @ClarkMindock. “All You Need to Know about Why NFL Players Are Taking a Knee and Where It Came From.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 4 Sept. 2018, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/taking-a-knee-national-anthem-nfl-trump-why-meaning-origins-racism-us-colin-kaepernick-a8521741.html.

Lake, Emma, and Mark Hodge. “NFL Players Defy Donald Trump and Drop to One Knee during the National Anthem.” The Sun, The Sun, 5 June 2018, http://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/4539225/take-a-knee-nfl-us-national-anthem-donald-trump-latest/.




Praying before sporting events is nothing new in our country, especially for football teams. Others and organizations, like the Freedom From Religion Foundation, are saying that these coaches are breaking the law. The First Amendment allows everyone to freely exercise their religion and also allows everyone the right to freely express themselves. So the controversy is where the line is drawn, and to the extent that these freedoms go.

The line between what should and shouldn’t be allowed in freedom of religion and speech can sometimes be a confusing one. Teams and more specifically coaches, typically like to pray before games. Often asking for strength, courage, and that players remain healthy throughout the game. But coaches and schools are coming under fire for it, saying that they are violating the First Amendment for imposing their religion on students. The Freedom From Religion Foundation has not only gone after Dunmore High School, but another high school in Birmingham, Alabama, for praying before football games. They say that, “Public school events must be secular to protect the freedom of conscience of all students.” In their letter however, they fail to ask if any students have had any complaints about it, considering they are the ones who would be effected. Unless a student has told their coach, teacher, or school that they are offended by this prayer and asked that it be stopped, it doesn’t seem like it’s doing any harm. Sen. Lankford says, “Gratitude to God is certainly not a crime in America.” The only problem that could come from praying before a game would be if a student feels peer pressured to join in and not speak out against it. Although they always have the choice to not participate in the prayer as well.

The line for freedom of religion and speech for praying before games is definitely on the border. I don’t believe that it should be banned however, unless a student asks for it to be. Although since they have the option to not participate, I believe that others should be allowed to pray and practice their religion for the brief time before a football game.


Wertheimer, Linda K. “Opinion | Why You Shouldn’t Defend a High School Coach Praying on His Football Field.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 29 Oct. 2015, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/10/29/why-you-shouldnt-defend-a-high-school-coach-praying-on-his-football-field/?utm_term=.64aa0bb5a937.

“Alabama High School Told to Halt Prayers before Football Games.” Fox News, FOX News Network, http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/10/26/alabama-high-school-told-to-halt-prayers-before-football-games.html.