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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

On knees and raising fists -- TUESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

With no Cardinal women's sports taking place until Thursday this week...Paulie takes a look at a subject that has been getting quite a bit of attention lately. Kneeling and raising fists during the National Anthem.

Protest. It's an inalienable right afforded to the citizens of the USA. America was settled about 500 years ago by Europeans and English who were protesting the unfair ways and means they were being forced to live in their countries. Peaceful protest, not taking to the streets and looting and rioting. There is a big difference there. Of course, there were Native Americans already here. And, dinosaurs way before that. Thus concludes today's history lesson. Go in peace.  

Does protest have a place in athletics, though? Does it need to be displayed during the National Anthem? There are injustices in our nation, our way of life. Racial inequalities. Police brutality. We see them every day. They are deplorable, unacceptable and inexcusable. Is a game, a sporting event the acceptable venue to bring attention to them? 

Do protests need to be displayed during an athletic event? Certainly it is a high-profile visibility. There is a modicum of decency that suggest one keep their eyes on the flag during the playing of our national anthem. But, more and more...people are looking around to see if anyone is kneeling or raising a fist. That I don't like. It is my right to have that opinion. I choose to look at our flag and remember those who have defended it. 

The singing or playing of the national well as the reciting of the pledge of allegiance is meant to show respect to the country we live in. It is, though, not the hand-raising..."Sieg Heil" of Nazi Germany. Listen to the P.A. announcers before the singing or playing of the national anthem.

"PLEASE rise, remove your hats and join us in the signing of our national anthem." It is a request, not a mandate. 

It is our choice, like the many choices we have in this great land. I choose to rise, sing and acknowledge those who served, died and protect us. To show respect for a place where I can write an article like this without fear of censorship, retaliation or recriminations. 

Some don't. Although I disagree with their choice to refrain or show another is their choice. We may choose to disagree about the procedure. We both have that right. Think of those in this world, just for a moment...that don't have choices. Who are more worried about whether they will receive food on a daily basis than a song or pledge.

Like many of you reading this, I am from a family where some gave all to assure the freedoms I have today. My late father served a total of 30 years in the Navy. My uncle died on the battleship Arizona in Pearl Harbor. My late father-in-law marched with Patton through France and Germany. One of my best friends was killed in Vietnam. I am well-familiar with the naval base in Key West. 

I have also been the subject of police brutality. I have been witness to racial profiling and discrimination. I didn't like it one bit. I have howled in outrage when I've heard of another senseless shooting. 

I vividly remember the 1968 Olympics when track gold medalist Tommie Smith and bronze medalist John Carlos donned black gloves and raised their fists in support of Black Power. Hey, the world was a pretty big mess in '68. Some would question if it's gotten any better. 

If this article has made you think...then it has served it's purpose. As for me, you'll still find me singing the national anthem at sporting events. You'll see me reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. I'd be happy if you join me...I'll estimate that way over 99% of the people reading this will. 

I'll also respect the rights of others who choose not to do so. Just as they respect my right to express myself. 

And...finally...I'll hope for a day....someday soon, hopefully...when there is no injustice, discrimination or brutality in the land I love. Sometimes, it seems so far away. 



  1. Well written Paulie. My grandparents were incarcerated and were eventually liberated in Germany during WW II. I have nothing but respect for choice. I have heard the stories of those first hand who were denied it.

  2. Some good points Pauly. Unfortunately there will never ever come a time when there is no real or perceived injustice, discrimination or brutality here or anywhere else in the world. Sometimes it is real and just as often it is manufactured for personal and / or political gain. If someone sees themselves as a victim they will always view the world through that lens and they can never be accommodated enough. They rarely let objective facts get in the way.

    All we can do as a country is to try to enforce a system that is as fair as we can make it and continue to tweak it over time to try to make it better. Neither people nor political systems are perfect. There will always be a reason to complain for those who feel so inclined and have been fortunate enough to be put in a position to force their views on those of us that have just shown up to watch a sporting event. Anyone that has lived a few years has been around folks that no matter how good things are find a reason to complain. It gets old quickly.

    I find it difficult to take millionaire professional ballers too seriously when they do little personally to to address their cultural challenges but don't miss an opportunity to take center stage in public. They do little to help themselves, their culture or their political positions in the eyes of most.

    Rapinoe has created a real problem for herself and the USWNT. It will be interesting to see how it plays out but I'm betting that she will be sanctioned or suspended or both. She certainly isn't doing women's soccer any favors with her drama. It's particularly ironic in the context of the pre-olympic strike threat by the USWNT players for equal pay given that US Soccer subsidizes each of the new women's professional soccer league to the tune of a million dollars per year per team. I find it even more ironic that this subsidy has been earmarked to pay the highest paid players on each team which of course Rapinoe happens to be one of. I guess when it comes to the USWNT organization "no good deed goes unpunished" really applies.

    I have never in my life met a truly successful person who viewed themselves as a victim. I fear the fact that we seem to have so many individuals and groups today that live in that "victimhood space" doesn't bode well for their individual or our collective futures.

  3. Those are good words about viewing yourself as a victim. I catch myself sublimely doing it and need to stop it.

  4. I obviously don't understand what sublime means either. One of the dangers of retirement.

  5. I watch pro sports for the action not the sideline antics. Stand up, sit down, just get out of my way when they kick it off.


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