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Athletes open up about anthem protests

AJ Wolken staff writer

During the preseason of the 2016 NFL season, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to sit, and eventually kneel, during the national anthem to “stand up for people who are oppressed.” The backlash that followed the protest was immense, with people all over America taking different stances on the situation, ranging from arguments about free speech to questioning the respect for our military. Recently, the situation escalated when president Donald Trump expressed his disapproval of the protests, which led to even more protesting of the anthem during week three of the NFL season.

In wake of the recent escalation of the situation, a member of the Oakland Athletics professional baseball team brought the protests to baseball, taking a knee during the anthem before a home game against the Texas Rangers on Sept. 23.

Varsity baseball captain Alex Rosen has been empowered by the spread of the protest into baseball.

“I honestly like the protests. I feel like these athletes are using their platform to promote a positive message. Bruce Maxwell of the A’s did a good thing when he started the protest in the MLB,” Rosen said.

Senior Camilla Wolff, a defender on the girls soccer team, also feels empowered that the protests have spread to sports beyond football. United States Women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe protested during the anthem last year to support Kaepernick’s movement.

“I think that it is inspiring. While many think that this is disrespectful…so [are] many common American traditions. These athletes are making a statement and taking a stand to show that they are not in support of injustice,” Wolff said.

High school athletes around the the country have caught on, protesting the anthem in their own ways, but we have yet to see any action taken by Beverly athletes.

“I personally haven’t seen or heard anything about protests,” varsity football captain Thomas Goolsby said. “I think [there’s] a possibility we could see some protests at some point, but I don’t think I need to do anything about teammates protesting. If they want to do that, then they can.”

In the event that a protest does take place at Beverly, Rosen believes that it will have to be a unified movement in order to make a statement.

“If we do take part in this protest, we will do it as a team, to show that we all support one another in our beliefs,” Rosen said.

Although the protests have caused much controversy in the worlds of sports and politics throughout America, varsity football captain Jonathan Tansey supports the movements and would be open to participating in some unified form of protest if the team felt it necessary.

“I think that protesting for what you believe in is very important. There are people of color on the football team, and I think they’re very aware of their positions and situations, and I do think [a protest] could happen,” Tansey said. “I think the most important thing would be to have a conversation about it as a team first to set what it is we are actually protesting and how we want to do that. I don’t think it’s the act itself as much as the message that matters.”

Varsity Head Football Coach Steve Geanakos wouldn’t be as understanding of a protest from his own players, due to the uncertainty about the motives behind a potential protest.

“My only problem with people on our team [protesting] is why they are doing it,” Geanakos said. “Do they have their own issue? Do they have their own reason for doing it? I don’t want to say we all should be doing something altogether to protest because I don’t really know. I guess we’ll come to that when it happens.”

If a protest were to occur, Rosen is willing to do what is necessary to show unity among students against the racial injustices in America.

“I would be willing to kneel because it does promote awareness and show a sense of unity that people are against police brutality,” Rosen said. “The problem has to change, and if us kneeling during the national anthem, or taking part in other peaceful protests helps, [then] I and the team would be 100 percent behind it.”

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