A nation fired up from football protests

Ed Zilincik, Staff Intern

The Oakland University Football Club is flying high these days. Coming off as the National Club Football Association championship during the 2016 season, the team won at Michigan State 39-20 to improve its record to 2-0 in the season.

However, last Sunday the NFL showed America just how divided it currently is as a nation and even as a cultural bastion for football.

Anthem protestswhere players, coaches and owners kneeled or locked arms during the national anthemwere seen across NFL cities before games. Detroit, Phoenix, Foxborough, Nashville and Washington D.C., team members from all different ethnicities and backgrounds protested during the national anthem.

A substantial backlash was seen from the players after President Donald Trump unexpectedly went after NFL players who were kneeling or protesting during the national anthem.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when someone disrespects our flag, to say ‘get that son of a bitch off the field right now?’” Trump said at a campaign rally. “’Out! He’s fired! Fired!”

The kneeling protests were originally started by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick during the 2016 NFL pre-season. A large number of other players joined during the 2016 season and has since continued to protest during the start of the 2017 season.

Trump’s comments poured gasoline on an issue that seemingly was starting to fade out of the public’s focus, especially when factoring in that the founder of the protests is not currently on an NFL roster.

These protests have angered and alienated a significant portion of NFL fans. In a recent poll, it was found that a majority of fans disagree with the anthem protest. Additionally, NFL ratings are down since the protests began last year and have continued to drop at the start of this season.

With the nearly universal admonishment from the players of Trump’s comments, and the largely negative feeling toward him from most athletes currently active, one has to wonder just how far these protests will go.

Could we see anthem protests here at Oakland?

Bobby Saad is a 22-year-old who is in his fourth season playing linebacker for the football club. Saad was very candid on the subject of player protests during the national anthem.

“Personally, it is my opinion that it is any person’s right to protest, and especially for good reason, with everything that has been going in this county of late,” he said. “However, kneeling during our anthem is not something I respect.”

“I stand for the national anthem for those who have fought for this country and lost the physical ability to stand, to honor those who served and those who have died for this country, a veteran who has given everything, has given his or her life for the flag should be honored as such,” Saad added.

Ben Hajciar is a 19-year-old who is the starting quarterback of the football club. He held similar sentiments to Saad on player protesting.

“I don’t disagree with players protesting, but I disagree with protesting during the national anthem,” Hajciar said. “I believe they can do it in several different ways, but during the anthem is disrespectful to many people who fought in wars and risked their lives for our country.”

When asked about what their coaches said about protesting or if they had ever considered, they both emphasized that protesting was not in their or their teams DNA.

“Our coach emphasizes that we do whatever we wish to do in our hearts and express ourselves in anyway,” Saad said. “With that being said, we agree as a team that is not something we will partake in.”

“I have never considered protesting, not because I think it is wrong,” Hajciar added. “I won’t do it because I have had family, coaches and friends who have served, protected and brought freedom to our country.”