Let’s Just Play Ball. Together.

I am sick to death of the debate over kneeling during the National Anthem at football games. My team played the game of the decade on Sunday night, but did anybody care? Nope. Most people I know, even lifelong fans, refused to watch the game. And why? Because they’re angry that some chose to kneel, or to stand, or to stay inside, or whatever else they’ve chosen to be angry about. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

Enough of the cry-babying about the protests. We live in America. Like it or not, protesting is their right. Do I like that they aren’t standing for the flag? NO! Do I understand and appreciate the 1st Amendment? YES!

But here’s the thing. There’s a double standard here that nobody wishes to acknowledge. And it all boils down to one thing. Nobody is willing to TALK. Nobody wants to have a conversation about what is going on. Everyone just wants to fight, and yell, and take sides. Which is really the biggest and most obvious thing wrong with kneeling during the Anthem but the one thing that nobody is saying. Rather than making a statement on which we should all agree – about the dignity of the human being and fair treatment of all – all this is doing is creating more divisiveness.

So, here is some food for thought.

All Players: You are professional members of an organization and should behave as such. You are representing your team, your city, your state, and your country. You should set an example for others in more ways than just standing for the anthem, or kneeling, or any other gesture. In my opinion, that means standing for the Anthem on the field but standing up for what you feel is right off the field. Put your money where your mouth is, so to speak. Volunteer in your community. Make public service announcements telling people how to treat each other. Join a public rally or march. You will get much farther, and receive more positive attention. I guarantee it.

1502825575-NS_01CowboysEagles31SPDallas Cowboys: I never thought I’d ever say this in my life, but I applaud you. You did things the right way. You took a stand (well, a knee) to show your unity in the fight against injustice. And then you took a stand, literally, and paid homage to our flag, our Vets, our Nation. Job well done.

Baltimore Ravens: Kneeling for OUR anthem and standing for another nation’s anthem is just plain wrong.  Period. Enough said.

IMG_1354Fans: Saying you will never watch football again because someone does something you don’t like is childish. There, I said it. Childish. Grow up. I refuse to cut off my nose to spite my face. I like football. I like cheering for my team. I like seeing them defy the odds and kick butt on a Sunday night when nobody else is watching. I’m going to keep watching. Get over it.

And there is NO clause in the NFL handbook that requires players, or anyone else, to stand for the National Anthem. That’s fake news. Stop telling people it’s true. 

Everyone: Football, like baseball, basketball, golf, etc. is a game. It’s for entertainment. Enjoy playing. Enjoy watching. You are all, players and fans alike, taking the joy out of it. Please stop.

By the way, I’d love to see a game where every player kneels in prayer like Tim Tebow did. Oh, but wait. That’s not allowed in football. Sorry, I thought we all wanted to uphold the 1st Amendment. I guess I thought wrong. And that, folks, is where I have to chime in with my biggest and most heart-felt rant. Why is one form of expression allowed and even heralded and the other is ridiculed? If players and viewers were all truly trying to be politically correct, accepting, and expressing their right to free speech, then why are protests okay but prayer isn’t? But that’s a topic for another day.

New Orleans Saints quarterback, Drew Brees, said it best.

Do I think that there’s…racism…inequality for women…minorities, immigrants, yes; but as it pertains to the National Anthem, I will always feel that the National Anthem is the opportunity for us all to stand up together to be unified and to show respect for our country, for what it stands for, the birth of our Nation…. We should be striving to make things better….but…standing for the National Anthem and looking at the flag with your hand over your heart is a unifying thing.

The bottom line is, please, let’s stop the fighting. Let’s stop the bullying, because that’s what this has become – one giant attack by bullies on both sides. Aren’t there far more important things going on in the world to worry about? Hurricanes, wildfires, missile launches, and countless other things that should be getting a lot more time and attention than what’s happening on the sidelines of a game of entertainment.

Let me repeat that last line that Drew repeated several times in his press conference. “standing for the National Anthem and looking at the flag with your hand over your heart is a unifying thing.” By kneeling, sitting, or staying inside, you are actually causing a rift. Instead, make your voice heard, help in your community, show a sign of protest when you walk on the field. And then stand together, hand over your heart, arms linked, whatever, but together, show your unity as a team and as a Nation. Only by working together can we make a difference.

Teach your children to respect the flag, the Constitution, the military, and each other. Teach them why we stand for the Star Spangled Banner as well as why some aren’t standing. Teach them that all people are created to be equal, that all human beings deserve respect and should be treated with dignity. Teach them how to be kind and loving. Teach them to not bully, tease, instigate, or cause fear. Teach them the greatest commandment,

Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 

Matthew 22:39

What I was writing about one year ago this week: Rewriting the Story.

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me and Whispering Vines, are recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top three inspirational fiction books of 2015 and 2016. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Amy followed up her success with, Island of Miracles. Her next children’s book, The Greatest Gift, is now on pre-sale.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschislerand at http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017)