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The Scoop - NFL should be flagged for this

In a perfect world, everyone would rise, remove their caps and stand for the playing of our national anthem.

This simple gesture takes about two minutes and is an easy way to show respect for the United States of America.

Unfortunately, for all our glory, America is far from perfect.Senseless shootings, racial profiling, and political corruption are three widespread problems which come to mind that have no solution anywhere on the radar.

That's why our right as Americans to peacefully protest is so vital to our culture. We can state our objections in hopes of enacting positive change. Other people may not agree with our protests, but if they are conducted in an orderly manner, protesting is our constitutional right.
That being said, I cringe at the NFL's policy which was announced Wednesday that requires all players to stand during the "Star-Spangled Banner" or face disciplinary action. If a player does not wish to stand, he has the option of remaining in the locker room until the song is finished.

I'm confident this NFL mandate will be applauded by a great many people. Since the NFL's national anthem protests, I've heard a number of fans express disappointment in pro football.

I remember a conversation I had last year with a longtime Titans fan as the team was preparing for a prime-time TV appearance.

"This will be the last Monday Night Football game for me," the guy told me outside USA Gym. "I've been a season ticket holder since their first year, but I'm not going to renew my tickets. I don't like how they're disrespecting the flag."

Personally, I don't view it as disrespecting our flag. I view it as America's greatest privilege.

Should we be told when it's OK to protest and when it's not? And if parts of free speech begin to be banned, do we really have free speech?
I'm sure it was seen as disgraceful when Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat in Montgomery, Ala., to a white passenger in 1955. But her peaceful protest produced results and helped further the fight for equal rights for all Americans.

More than 60 years later, we know discrimination still exists. There are countless examples of it everyday, from black people being handcuffed and removed from Starbucks, to police using a stun gun on an NBA player over a parking violation.

Patriotic pride tells us we live in the greatest nation in the world. But a fair-minded evaluation will also show America is plagued with problems. Hindering our ability to express our opinions should not be one of those problems.

I'm not a fan of the NFL's new national anthem policy. Thankfully, I can voice my displeasure by writing this column, unless someone decides to pass a policy forbidding this type of behavior.

Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.