A knee has not yet been taken during the national anthem in ten states; Utah being one of them.
According to Think Progress and its map of tracking “The Kaepernick Effect,” or protesting and kneeling athletes, the trend is only missing in 10 states. Utah is still standing as one of the remainders.
Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback, took his first knee during The Star Spangled Banner Sept. 1 and has started awareness for discrimination movement since.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told Steve Wyche, a National Football League reporter. “To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Shay McClure, Dixie State University head football coach, said whether you are an athlete or not, you have the right to protest peacefully.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinion and how they want to make their opinion felt,” McClure said.
Traditionally, DSU teams aren’t even out of the locker room for the national anthem, but in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, is it required that they are, McClure said.
“I simply told our kids, ‘I can’t tell you how to act. I can’t tell you what your belief system is. The only thing I ask is you don’t draw attention away from the team. It’s not about you, if it’s about a social issue that is your choice,’” McClure said.
Darius Matthews, a senior communication major and football team captain and defensive tackle from West Jordan, said he had a plan to follow Kaepernick’s trend but didn’t out of respect for his coach.
“There have been times at certain events when they have done the national anthem and I did put my fist in the air, unashamed,” Matthews said.
DSU’s athletic director Jason Boothe said it is a good thing to get more of a discussion going.
“[Kaepernick] has got a very good point,” Boothe said. “There are very concerning things going on in America.”
DSU does not have any policies in place to follow during the national anthem and students’ opinions are protected under the DSU’s speech policy No. 110.
As long as the protest done by the student-athletes doesn’t cause interference with the event or make it unsafe, they have every right to protest, Boothe said.
He said if repercussion were to happen, then it would be handled in a professional and tactful manner.
“Just as it’s the student-athletes’ right to voice their opinion, it’s the fans’ right to voice their as well,” Boothe said.
Matthews said what Kaepernick has done is great for the NFL, young people and the world.
“The fact that he has decided to take a stand separates him from the athletes that are worried about saving their careers,” he said.
Matthews said more athletes need to take a stand no matter what their race is.
“I wouldn’t be offended if [Caucasian people] took a knee,” he said. “That is the point- to stand in solidarity. If we come together like we should, we will have no more racism.”