By Lupe Jacobson and Conner Reed
BU News Service
CAMBRIDGE—Colin Kaepernick’s take-a-knee movement has players across the National Football League kneeling during the national anthem, including many players on the New England Patriots. The movement is a protest against police brutality toward black Americans and has been berated by President Donald J. Trump, who has gone so far as to suggest NFL owners fire players who kneel.
The protest has spurred national debate over the place of politics in sports. Just last month, members of the Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School football team took a knee during their game against Waltham High School.
Emily Steinberg, a North Cambridge resident, supports the movement.
“I think that it’s a good idea to protest in general,” Steinberg said during an interview in Porter Square. “For people to stand up for the black community because they’re being treated unfairly.”
The protesting players are facing backlash from the president and others who believe kneeling is disrespectful to veterans and those who serve.
But Cambridge resident Adam Camprano doesn’t see the reason for the opposition.
“I think that people make too much of a deal about it,” he said. “The players have the choice to do what they want.”
Laura Nicolae, co-president of Harvard’s Libertarian club, believes critics have the freedom to express themselves as well.
“I think that you cannot use force or the threat of force to try to restrict other people’s speech,” she said during an interview in Brattle Square, “but you can express peaceful criticism.”
Whether players should be allowed to kneel is not a source of contention among these Cambridge residents, but some wonder about the efficacy of the action.
Kaepernick was the first to take a knee at a national football game. He started the movement in 2016 while quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers and has since been a free agent.
So far, the quarterback has not had a single offer from any team in the NFL. To Cambridge commuter Sam Staxx, this is the greatest implication of the movement going forward.
“He was drafted high in the draft. It’s not like he was some scrub,” Staxx said. “If they don’t let him back in, it just shows that the ownership has to change.”
The protest has become a stand against the oppression of people of color in America. Using the football field as a platform, Kaepernick calls attention to the white male ownership of major sports teams.
The teams themselves are diverse, but according to a study by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, there is a 100 percent disparity between athletes of color and owners of color in the league.
Staxx said he doesn’t see the issue being resolved through Kaepernick’s protest. It is the “people in positions of power” who are capable of changing the system, he said, even if they have little incentive to do so.
High schoolers across the country are following the NFL players and taking a knee during the anthem at their own games. This includes players on the basketball, volleyball and football teams at Cambridge Rindge and Latin, Tom Arria, the school’s athletic director, said.
Arria said he supports the students who have taken a knee and that the players “have decided they feel it’s important enough to call attention on a local level to what they see as being in-just.”
Arria said he hopes they go further.
“Kneeling is great, but it’s just that: it is kneeling,” he noted. “It’s calling attention to the issue, but what do we do now to address it and try to make it better moving forward?”