In The Spotlight, Sports

Kneel For What You Believe In: Clark Athletics Supports Players Right To Protest

“If they feel like they need to bring a point across and that’s the only way to do it, I’m behind their back,” Athletic Director Chris Jacob said.

Though no Clark teams or athletes have yet reportedly taken a knee this season in protest of the treatment of African Americans, both Jacobs and men’s basketball head coach Kevin Johnson will support any students right to peacefully protest.

The debate around protesting during the anthem started a little over a year ago when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a symbolic knee in protest of the treatment of black Americans in the United States.

Recently, the issue became controversial when President Trump commented on the protests, claiming that a player who opts to protest is a “son of a bitch” and that they should be fired.

Following Trump’s comments, more athletes across the nation have joined in the protest, both professionally and recreationally. The issue is now a major political discussion, as well.

Jacob said no students have come to him about the issue, but said that if someone did protest he would know. While Jacob said he wouldn’t choose a side, as athletic director he would put the wellbeing of students as his top priority.

Men’s basketball coach Kevin Johnson agrees. Johnson said that if any of his players wanted to express their opinion through this protest they have a right to do so, but the current issue has not yet been brought up with his team.

This isn’t the first sports protest to stir up controversy like this, according to Gregory Finley, a Political Science instruction at Clark.

In the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, Tommie Smith and John Carlos stood on the podium after competing in the 200-meter running event to recieve their gold and bronze medals. As they received their awards, they each held a fist in the air for the entirety of the national anthem as a protest for human rights.

“Depending on who you are and what you think,” said Finley said, “it was either great or terrible.”

According to Finley, this controversy is a newer facet to America’s social system. When he was in high school, the professor said that while some people refused to stand for the anthem in order to protest the Vietnam War, no one took the opportunity to protest through the refusal of participating in the national anthem.

“No one ever challenged the idea ‘you had to stand,’” Finley said, adding that there has always been that freedom of protest.

Because of this, Finley said Trump was in the wrong by making these comments and that the issue is worth discussing in political conversation.

“He has the right to his opinion,” Finley said, “but he doesn’t have the right to use his office to say ‘these guys should be fired’ — it’s an abuse of his power.”

Khalil Rivera, a pitcher for Clark’s baseball team hasn’t seen the protest taking place, and he hasn’t participated. But Rivera said one of the things that makes America great is the right to protest.     

Rivera, who has family living in Puerto Rico, said the president should focus on other matters, including relief for the island that was recently ravaged by hurricanes. Rivera does not plan to kneel but supports others right to choose.

Rivera. “I feel like if somebody doesn’t want to take a stand, or do something
during the pledge, they don’t necessarily have to. That’s the great thing about
living in this country, you’re not obligated to do anything.”


  1. Jamal Trungpa

    This article is inflammatory and opinionated, this Finley Character is biased, and contradictory, “He has the right to his opinion,” and then immediately turns around and says “He doesn’t have the right to use his office to say ‘these guys should be fired'” and how in the hell is his opinion an “abuse of power?” is he not entitled to his opinion as you are? and did you even look at the tweet he sent out? Donald Trump: “The NFL has decided that it will not force players to stand for the playing of our National Anthem. Total disrespect for our great country!” where in this tweet does he say fire the NFL players? all he is saying is you are and asshole for kneeling for the flag yes you have the right to kneel, but you are not free from criticism when you do so. Football and the NFL are a national symbol, people come together around the Superbowl and football, as soon as you interject politics into it you start taking serious swings at the unity of the country for a publication called the independent you guys sure are opinionated.

  2. Melissa Williams

    Thank you for this article, Indy. I’m glad that Jacob and Johnson would support players in constitutionally exercising their right to peacefully protest racial injustice and police brutality.

    Those who have twisted the issue from racial injustice to anti-Americanism or a renunciation of the military have hijacked the conversation. The protest is not, and never was, about the nation as an entity or U.S. servicemembers (and the national anthem doesn’t belong to or represent servicemembers any more than the rest of us anyhow).

    The protest began as one person’s attempt to raise awareness about the very real issue of systemically abusive treatment of black people by some members of law enforcement and the justice system’s failure to address that abuse. If one is attempting to discuss the “take a knee” protest without even mentioning police brutality toward black Americans, or systemic racism in general, then their points are moot and irrelevant to the conversation.

    For those who can’t seem to focus on the actual subject—again, it’s police brutality toward black people–I’ll remind readers that a military veteran suggested Kaepernick kneel during the anthem as a sign of respect, as soldiers may kneel to show respect for fallen comrades.

    I applaud protesting athletes for using their public platform as an instrument to spark awareness and conversation. One doesn’t have to like or agree with the protest. One should, however, be able to address its actual purpose before criticizing it.

    It’s so important as we engage in conversations about race, patriotism, and national symbols to recall that not every American has the same experience of America. And we don’t have to. There is no singular American perspective so we each have a right to our own. Perhaps start with the poem “Let America Be America Again” by Langston Hughes.

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