A Team of 8 Year-Olds Kneel for the Anthem. Slow Down. Let’s Talk.

A team of 8 year-old football players took a knee for the National Anthem. I’m not going to rehash the story. It’s linked below. If you haven’t read it, do so then come on back.

8-year-old Cahokia football team kneels during anthem ahead of recent game

Hey, welcome back!!!

So the kneeling during the National Anthem controversy has become an unavoidable story. It gets clicks. It creates outrage and endless reactions. The media loves it because it’s a money machine for them as long as it’s still hot. I’ve broached the topic before because people want to cry racism since Colin Kaepernick can’t get a job in the NFL. It is not and that’s not what this post is about. If you want to get into that aspect of the conversation, feel free to hit the link below, read what I had to say about that and go nuts there.

Colin Kaepernick – Your Method Matters

Now to the story at hand…

I think I have a slightly different approach to this, which isn’t an easy one for most people to take. Here’s why…

It involves people setting aside personal opinions, their romantic sentiment for patriotism and their reasons as to why they perceive those to be correct. If your opinion can’t be shook, you’re reading this in an unreasonable state. At the very least, this conversation requires you to be reasonable enough to realize that because you’re partial to your opinion (opinion is the operative word), and due to of the nature of its being, your opinion can still be wrong. Nobody should be so married to their opinions that they are willing to actively disregard facts, reason and/or rational thought.

With that said, a lot of what I’m about to say is my opinion. If you’re able to reach the bottom, you’ll see why it’s a reasonable opinion and not one born of hand-me-down culture and historically established social values (which have proven to need a good tweaking from time to time).

I don’t think the coach was wrong. The way the linked story is written, he is shaped as though he’s a good person who got put into an tough, unexpected teaching moment. One that will probably be increasingly recurring throughout youth sports. I think he tried to use strong ethics and be honest with his team, which is commendable. Most people wouldn’t mind slinging the little white lie to young kids for the sake of avoiding the uncomfortable exchange or to “keep them safe”. I think he tried to be supportive of his young players, knowing that although they may not fully realize kneeling for the anthem is controversial, they do know their right from wrong and they know the reason why they’re kneeling is a just one. It’s respectable that he didn’t try to spin the situation to convince the players to stand under false or half-true pretenses to appear non-controversial from afar, all the while they would actually be standing for a reason completely unrelated to patriotism.

The kids weren’t wrong either. The most impressive part I took away from the story is that they knew about the kneeling, what it was generally about and specific examples why people are doing it. To say kids that age don’t know the full gravity of the world they’re in or don’t have enough life perspective is a fair point. They’re 8 years-old. Enough said there. But it would also be both irresponsible and self-serving to your argument to not acknowledge that children are absolutely exposed to a lot more at much younger ages and are definitely becoming more intelligent faster because of it.

I hate giving personal, isolated examples when I’ve just made such a macro statement, but sometimes going micro is the only way to show granules of dirt to someone only concerned with the view from the clouds. A few years ago, my nephew was about 18 months old and climbed onto my lap to watch me work on my laptop. He immediately recognized the situation, reached out with his finger and swiped the screen to the side looking to navigate to something else. When nothing happened because my laptop was not a touch screen, he turned and looked at me confused because my laptop was not functioning like the tablet he was used to playing with. He could not speak yet, but as a toddler he could already understand mobile computing on a level that rivaled my parents. He has since definitely passed my parents by. This isn’t a unique instance or some kind of coincidence. This is high-level information being universally available to people from the minute they’re born and in turn, children demonstrating high-level comprehension at younger and younger stages.

The fact is information we consider advanced or above kids’ age ranges is readily available, reaching them earlier, and like the sponges they are, they’re consuming and comprehending more and more of it at a rapid pace. We can’t use their age, apply how we were at that same age and pretend that’s a valid argument. Beyond how absolutely horrible the human memory truly is, this just wasn’t possible when we were their age. If the argument is they don’t truly understand why they’re kneeling, it’s probably just as safe to say they don’t understand why they were standing either, other than they were told that’s what they were supposed to do. In fact, it’s more than fair to say that’s exactly why the kid int he story asked if kneeling was something they COULD do, as though he felt it was something they may not be allowed to.

For my own sanity, it’s time to go beyond the story about a team of young kids kneeling. The scope of what is demonstrated in regard to kneeling during the anthem is just entirely too narrow in focus.

Personally, I don’t think kneeling during the anthem was ever the best method for this protest. Not that I think it’s wrong, but I’m not convinced it was the best way. Its origin coming from that of a celebrity, there were endless avenues that could have been taken and would have received long-running viral exposure. The fact of the matter is this is the method that was chosen. It’s time to bring to light a broader scope of the situation instead of staying so tunnel vision on your own opinions.

The flag is not just a symbol of the past. It transcends the rules of time in that respect because it also represents the present state of things as well as the future of what we are to be. There’s an easy way to test that. Ask yourself “What was our flag 20 years ago? What is our flag right now? And to the best of your knowledge, what will the flag be 20 years from now?” Each answer should have been the same: This one.

No singular person’s opinion dwarfs another in regard to which aspect is most important. It’s a giant feedback loop. We wouldn’t be where we are if not for what happened in the past, what we do in the present will end up in the past and also dictates the direction of the path on which our future travels. Rinse and repeat. Acting in civil disobedience of the present 100% does not mean they disregard or disrespect accomplishments or sacrifices made the past. That seems to be where the divide becomes extreme.

There is so much romanticism for the past, it’s almost as if people are willing to disregard how the flag is currently being represented or what that will mean of its representation in the future. If you truly see the scope of this anthem-kneeling protest and the purpose of its civil disobedience to promote equality, it’s not to go out of one’s way to create chaos and anarchy. It’s actually a visible acknowledgement of caring and having concern for current state of things and what will become of the future. To kneel is not with the intent to remain in a permanent position of dissent. It’s a statement and a visual representation of their hope to one day be proud to stand again for our National Anthem.

That’s how I see it anyway.