The controversy over protest at sporting events

Colin Kaepernick 017 of the San Francisco 49ers kneel.
Eric Reid 0135 and Colin Kaepernick 017 of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest during the national anthem prior to their NFL game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Levi's Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.
Ezra Shaw | Getty Images

Should politics and sports be separate? Do protests at sporting events divide us or unite us? For some athletes, protest is a personal sacrifice to raise awareness about a societal issue they care deeply about.

The NFL landed in the middle of a fiery cultural debate when NFL players began taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem, drawing sharp criticism from President Donald Trump. Are the players exercising constitutional rights or betraying American values and their contracts?

Frank White, an Air Force veteran, who works in outreach for the Minnesota Twins, said "it's important to speak up about injustices, and the inequities that occur in this country." White said he has so much respect for Colin Kaepernick because, "how many people in this country would stand up for something you believe in, at the sake of losing your job?"

Sociologist Doug Hartmann says the sports world is very conflicted about this because of the racial politics, but also because sports are celebrated as an opportunity for advancement.

Scott Johnson said the playing of the National Anthem at sporting events is a "time of unity and respect for those who have brought us to the point where we can enjoy the game and the benefit it's brought to the players, the owners and the fans."

The speakers:

Doug Hartmann is professor and chair of the sociology department at the University of Minnesota.

Scott Johnson writes the conservative Power Line blog.

Frank White is a curator of the Minnesota Black Baseball Project.

The moderator at the University of Minnesota Elmer L. Andersen Library on January 30, 2018 was political science professor Larry Jacobs.

To listen to their conversation, click the audio player above.

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