Hello to you. It’s 8:25 am on this Monday morning. I see our President is at it again with a new travel ban (http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/new-order-bars-almost-all-travel-from-seven-countries/ar-AAspSJo?OCID=ansmsnnews11) and fresh attacks on the National Football League players who chose to kneel during the American National Anthem.
What I feel has been left out of this conversation, and I had it recently with a young man who’s family doesn’t allow him to pledge allegiance to our flag for religious reasons, is a lot of people died so we have the right to choose whether or not we pay homage to the American flag and the national anthem! I am a 16 year Air Force Veteran and when I hear the national anthem, I choose to put my hand over my heart. I’ll be honest, it’s not been easy to feel proud about doing it these days. When I think of all the veterans in graves all over this country and overseas I have to wonder what they would think if they saw what is going on in the headlines these days. Was it all for nothing?! Some times it seems that way to me.
When I see these “kneelers” I think of them showing to the world who they truly serve and it’s nobody or nothing here on this earth! I could be wrong, but that’s what I see in their actions:
For the NFL Kneelers –
The song plays but there is no pride in me for it anymore
I’m supposed to place my hand over my heart and sing
Like I’ve done so many times before
I fall down to my knees and bow my head
I will show respect to my God
Will you condemn me
As I kneel down with my brothers and sisters
Showing the world a different kind of bravery?
Is there truly such a thing in this country as freedom?! Free speech?! Am I truly free?!
Or even in my hearts servitude to powers well beyond yours
Will you just find another way to make a commodity of me?!
Anyhew….in deciding to broach this topic, I learned a little Star-Spangled-Banner history!
SmartNews Keeping you current
The Rules About How to Address the U.S. Flag Came About Because No One Wanted to Look Like a Nazi
During the National Anthem, Americans are asked to put their right hands over their hearts. But why?
Children salute the American flag in 1915. (Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons)
By Erin Blakemore
August 12, 2016
While many American Olympians who win gold in Rio place their right hands over their hearts when listening to “The Star-Spangled Banner” on the podium, others do their own thing. Take Michael Phelps, who after winning the 200-meter butterfly earlier this week stood on the podium with his arms by his side, almost overcome with emotion (and then laughter) as he accepted his 20th career Olympic gold medal.
What the Olympians probably don’t realize, however, is that the U.S. Flag Code calls for anyone addressing the flag, either during the Pledge of Allegiance or the national anthem, to put their right hands over their hearts. But there’s no orientation lesson from the U.S. Olympic Committe that mandates how athletes should appear, which shouldn’t be surprising, as Mark Dyreson, Penn State professor and Olympic scholar, tells Bill Plaschke for The Los Angeles Times. This omission is thanks to the rich tradition of freedom of expression in this country. Or, as Dyreson puts it, “In the United States, free speech trumps all.”
But where did the idea to regulate the way Americans choose to respect the flag come from, anyway? As it turns out, the U.S. Flag Code dates back to the not-too-distant year of 1942. The decision to enact began with the Pledge of Allegiance—a ritual that used to involve a salute that required you to raise your right hand, flip your palm down, point it toward the flag in a salute and recite the words. These instructions might seem unthinkable today for obvious reasons—they’re reminiscent of rows of Nazis saluting their Fuhrer. But believe it or not, they date from the beginning of the Pledge itself.
As Bob Greene writes for CNN, the right-handed salute is part of the Pledge’s strange history. Originally known as the Bellamy Salute, the gesture came to be in the 1890s, when the Pledge of Allegiance was written by Francis J. Bellamy. The Christian socialist minister was recruited to write a patriotic pledge to the American flag as part of magazine mogul Daniel Sharp Ford’s quest to get the flag into public schools.
At the time, as Jeffrey Owen Jones reported for Smithsonian magazine in 2003, Bellamy and his boss both agreed that the Civil War had divided American loyalties and that the flag might be able to bridge those gaps. His campaign centered around the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the new world. He published his new Pledge as part of a unified Columbus Day ceremony program in September 1892 in the pages of the Youth’s Companion, a popular children’s magazine with a circulation of 500,000.
“At a signal from the Principal,” Bellamy wrote, “the pupils, in ordered ranks, hands to the side, face the Flag. Another signal is given; every pupil gives the flag the military salute—right hand lifted, palm downward, to a line with the forehead and close to it. Standing thus, all repeat together, slowly, ‘I pledge allegiance to my Flag…’” (The words of the Pledge itself have a long and contentious history of their own, as Amy Crawford wrote for Smithsonian magazine last year.)
The Pledge slowly picked up steam, especially as educators concerned about the gigantic influx of immigrants in the 19th century looked for ways to instill patriotic values and a sense of national, assimilative identity. With their right hands raised, children all over the country recited the Pledge in school and at public events.
Then came fascism, and the rise of a salute used by supporters of a charismatic politician named Adolf Hitler. The dictator seems to have made a Nazi “Heil Hitler” with raised arm the official gesture of his party after witnessing Italian Fascists performing the salute. As Jessie Guy-Ryan reports for Atlas Obscura, both the Italians and the Germans claimed that the salute was based in Roman and medieval Germany history, respectively, though they both had purely modern origins—and Smithsonian.com reporter Rose Eveleth notes that confusion over the fascist salute and a similar salute to the Olympic flag made the 1936 Olympics even more hairy politically.
Now that the one-armed salute smacked more of totalitarianism than of American patriotism, Americans abandoned the gesture that had been a symbol of national unity for 50 years. The 1942 U.S. Flag Code attempted to distance the Pledge of Allegiance from the country’s avowed enemies, instructing saluters to put their right hand over their heart while reciting the Pledge, and also included instructions for people to salute the flag with their right hand over their heart while listening to “The Star-Spangled Banner.” (Though the song was written back in 1814, it had only been the United States’ official anthem since 1931.)
The relatively new tradition of placing the right hand over the heart didn’t end controversy over the Pledge, which has withstood multiple legal tests about whether students can be forced to recite it (they can’t) or whether the words “under God” violate the First Amendment (they don’t.) And despite requirements to do both within U.S. code, neither gesture can be enforced.
Now, 239 years after the United States’ flag first flew, it still stirs up strong emotions. So even if you’re not about to medal in Rio, the next time you hear the national anthem or the Pledge, just remember that even the most innocuous-seeming national traditions have a complicated past.
There are many, many feel good stories about how playing sports has helped many a troubled youth but I have to ask it truly helping them?
The NFL: Is Our Modern-Day Gladiator Sport a Good Thing?
Author: Corrina Lawson
The NFL: Is Our Modern-Day Gladiator Sport a Good Thing?
Watching Spartacus: Gods of the Arena on Friday nights for the past month has led me to the inevitable comparison of gladiators and football players, a comparison that the producers of the show say is no accident.
Gladiators and NFL players both perform in stadiums to cheering or jeering crowds, both are risking serious physical injury, and both, if they’re successful because a hero or “god” to those who love watching. If they’re unsuccessful, they often become a goat for life.
The major difference is, of course, that professional football players are paid athletes, not slaves, and they certainly are not forced to fight to the death. They can walk away at any time. For players who have dedicated their entire lives to reaching the pinnacle of their profession, that’s a tough choice. But it is a choice.
A less obvious parallel between the gladiators shown in Spartacus and NFL players is that both sets of men have bought into the myths surrounding them as much as their fans.
In Spartacus, both the original and the prequel, a major theme is how this myth of glory serves to keep the slaves willingly in line.. The gladiators buy into the very system that takes their lives. They’re taught to cherish the glory of combat. They’re taught that they will achieve immortality by appealing to the roaring crowds. They’re taught, quite literally, that by doing so, they become gods. If the price of this is eventually their lives, so be it. They buy into the myth that they matter and aren’t just toys for others’ amusement.
The gladiators completely and utterly drink this kool-aid, perhaps because to accept this reality would lead to despair that their lives have no meaning, that all they’ve worked for, bled for, and seen their comrades die for is in vain.
The stakes are not nearly as high in the NFL–players aren’t spitted on swords–but we, the roaring crowds of today, certainly demand to be entertained and sometimes we demand blood to be spilled if it’s necessary to win.Witness the furor over Jay Cutler, the quarterback for the Chicago Bears. Cutler injured his knee in a playoff game. He couldn’t put weight on it properly to throw. He could walk but the ability to plant and deliver the football accurately was gone.
He came out of the game.
And his sin was that he didn’t look like he was really hurt on the sidelines or that he didn’t try to play the game crippled.
Football fans and fellow players demanded proof of his injury. They questioned his manhood. His jersey was burned in effigy as in the youtube video above. It’s very likely that Cutler’s stature with the Bears fans would have gone up if he limped out there “like a man” and tried to play, even if it meant that he played horribly and cost the Bears the game. And even if it meant that he further injured and endangered not only his career but his ability to walk without pain for the rest of his life.
I’m not going to defend Cutler as a person. In public, he seems sullen and unhappy, not a fun guy. But I think the reaction to what happened when he left the game says more about *us *than it does about Jay Cutler.
The game means so much to us that some fans would rather see Cutler rip up his knee for the rest of his life than stop playing. It means that much to his fellow players as well. Most of them would rather win a playoff game and have an injury for the rest of their lives than leave a game. Like the gladiators on Spartacus, they are the most insistent enforcers of the code of the arena.
I’ve watched the NFL since I was five. I’m a passionate fan of the New England Patriots. But lately, I’ve become a bit queasy about my chosen spectator sport.
The players might not be worried about their long-term health and the consequences of their job.
But I am.
First, there’s the new information about the connections between concussions and dementia, and even between repeat concussions and Lou Gehrig’s disease. According to a report on HBO’s Real Sports, Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games streak–one of the most venerated sports records ever–may be exactly the thing that killed him so young.
There is growing evidence that, like ancient gladiators, not only are NFL players risking injuries by playing the game, they severely shortening their lives. Studies are continuing but the evidence is enough to make me horrified when there’s a big hit during a game. The worry before was whether he’d cracked a rib. Now my worry is that his brain is scrambled or worse. This is only compounded by the knowledge that the average lifespan of aformer NFL player is far less than society’s average, from 53-59 depending on position. compared to the 77.9 years of the general U.S. population.
The average career of an NFL player is 3.52 years. And they’re often left with lingering injuries. And their lifespan, on average, is cut short.
Just last week, former Chicago Bear Dave Duerson–member of perhaps the best defense ever in the NFL–committed suicide and asked that his brain be donated to the same study linked above.
I don’t believe I like the human cost of entertaining me.
It’s making me question my love of the game.
And my concern is not just for the professional players. It’s also for those in high school and college. After watching several*30 by 30*documentaries on NCAA football in the last year, it seems to me that the only people not making huge amounts of money are the unpaid players.
The schools make millions. The coaches make millions. The NCAA makes millions. The players, the people most at risk, are perhaps getting a college education. A good one, I hope. But I after educating myself about where all the money goes in college football, I think that if my son were Cam Newton, I might start demanding some cash up front for him in order to play for your school too, just as Newton’s father seemingly did. The player is the one at risk for lifetime injury. Newton can, at least, buy insurance against the possibility of injury that scuttles his pro career but it galls me that he’s the guy doing most of the work, the most at risk, and he’s getting very little, comparatively, in return.
It does ease my mind that college players do have a 69 percent graduation rate but that same study quoted in the linked article also points out that 70 percent of last year’s top ten NCAA Division I football teams fell below that average. And who is picking up the check when a knee wrecked during a college career needs surgery ten years later? Worse, what if repeated concussions are leading to mental health problems down the road? Who pays for that care?
ESPN columnist Greg Easterbrook examined the issue of whether kids should play football in his Tuesday Morning Quarterback column after this year’s Superbowl. It’s a nice assessment of the risks and the rewards, especially to the non-professional players and ultimately comes down on the side of football being a beneficial team sport.
At least at the high school level, especially if the team has a good coach, football can teach boys how to work together and it can teach them discipline and respect.
But at the highest level, the NFL, I don’t think the people who benefit the most are the players with the multi-million dollar contracts or those that earn a spot, however brief, on a team.
No, the ones who benefit the most are those of us who sit on our couches and watch other people play. It distracts us. It’s fun to watch. It fills our minds and connects generations together.
And that makes me more like the ancient Romans watching gladiators than I would like.
But just when I had decided that the NFL might not be worth it, I watched an interview with former Green Bay Packer Bill Curry, who played on the Vince Lombardi-coached team that won the first Superbowl.
Curry grew up in the deep South at the time of segregation. He said he didn’t even know how to behave around black players. Until late one night, Hall of Famer Willie Davis came up to him and told him that he had potential and that he (Davis) would help help him. NFL network helpfully has the video of this interview.
“He changed my life,” Curry said. “It was an unexpected, undeserved, unrewarded act of kindness by a great man.”
And that brought me back to the power of football as a means to bind together communities, as a means of communication that crosses gender and racial boundaries.
But I still don’t know what I would say if my youngest son, who watches the Patriots games with me on Sundays, came to me and said he wanted to play.
Bill Livingston: Plain Dealer Sports Columnist
NFL 2017: A weekend of protests and solidarity in the league — Bill Livingston (photos)
Posted on September 25, 2017 at 9:00 AM
By Bill Livingston, The Plain Dealer,
CLEVELAND, Ohio — A weekend of protests in the aftermath of another crude, race-baiting speech by President Donald Trump ended with NFL players receiving support from each other, the league and team owners.
The latter group of billionaires was something of a surprise, since almost all of them backed Trump’s bid for the Presidency. Perhaps they realized that football has enough problems with head trauma, declining television ratings, and boring early season games to add attacks on the personal integrity of players.
They will not win over the public
The players who knelt during the national anthem at games, including several Cleveland Browns at their game in Indianapolis, will never win their case in the court of public opinion. I have argued this before, while supporting their right to protest.
The American flag has been too charged with emotion for that, too identified with struggle and sacrifice even before the shelling of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812, which spurred Francis Scott Key to write the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The real point of the protests
The distinction that is overlooked and that Trump willingly obscures is that the protests are not against American service men and women, nor against police, first responders, and other aspects of American life most people value highly.
The protests refer to a specific issue, discrimination against racial minorities. Trump’s willful misrepresentation of the protests recall Samuel Johnson’s observation, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”
Whatever form the protests took — whether kneeling during the playing of the anthem in Constitutionally guaranteed peaceful protest, or by locking arms as a show of solidarity, or by remaining in their locker rooms during the anthem’s playing — the players were making sober, symbolic gestures.
It is always a mistake to underestimate the pride and resolve of professional athletes. The protests, therefore, were also an act of defiance to Trump.
In a speech in Alabama on Friday night, Trump pilloried Colin Kapernick, the unemployed former San Francisco quarterback who began the protests in public, thus trying to turn a matter of personal conscience into one of perceived contempt.
Kaepernick has been effectively blackballed by NFL owners. Trump’s call to “get that son of a bitch off the field” amounted only to posturing and pandering to haters.
LeBron and the NBA
The rancor from the White House spilled over on the NBA.
Trump announced he had rescinded an invitation he had never made to Steph Curry of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors. Curry had already said he would not attend the White House ceremony to salute the team.
Kevin Durant, the Most Valuable Player of the Warriors Finals victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, had previously announced his intention to boycott the Presidential meeting.
Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James sprang to the defense of Curry, addressing Trump on the President’s favorite social medium, Twitter, as “U bum” and saying, “Going to the White House was a great honor until you showed up!”
Here’s some disrespect, too
If the subject is disrespect of American values, examples of it that are crueler than taking a knee include:
•Feuding with a Gold Star family whose Muslim son died in combat;
•belittling Senator John McCain, who was tortured as a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam and confined there for five and a half years;
•suggesting the father of Senator Ted Cruz was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy;
•defending Neo Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members as “fine people” and berating protestors after a deadly Charlottesville, Va., rally;
•charging with no documented proof that Muslims in Jersey City cheered on 9/11 when the World Trade Center Towers crumbled;
•denying the legitimacy of Barack Obama, his predecessor in the Oval Office, on spurious “birtherism” claims;
•and, knowingly or unknowingly, benefiting from espionage by a hostile foreign power in the election of 2015.
Run that up the flagpole and see how many salute.