On Sept. 22 at a rally in Alabama, President Donald Trump exclaimed that National Football League (NFL) owners need to fire players who kneel during the national anthem while also calling players who kneel “sons of bitches.”
Following this remark and many others the President tweeted out the following day, NFL players, coaches and owners responded by showing unity on the sidelines that weekend. Some teams saw an increase in players kneeling, while others agreed to skip the national anthem entirely. Even owners who supported Trump during the election went down to the field to link arms with players and show their support.
That weekend sparked a nationwide debate on whether teams should allow players to kneel during the anthem. It also forced a discussion for teams across the country on whether they should join this showing of unity and support. Even the Pacific University football team had a discussion on the topic.
“It was kind of an elephant in the room,” senior linebacker Tristan Smith said. “We had a team meeting after practice and discussed it for about 30 minutes and that’s where we decided that we would hold hands.”
Senior defensive end Xavier Harvey explained that there was real thought that went into the team’s decision of what to do.
“The decision was less about a social justice issue and more about showing people we’re united as a team and as brothers and trying to represent family instead of opposition to the national anthem,” Harvey said.
When asked who brought up this “elephant in the room” Smith said sophomore quarterback Dante Reid was the one who spoke up.
“After everything that happened and seeing what NFL teams did, I just thought that there is a way that us as a team at Pacific could also stand up and represent a bigger meaning rather than just saying ‘we’re just a small school no one pays attention to us’,” Reid said. “We all have a voice and we should all be able to speak up and share our voices.”
The Boxers have three more games this season, including two more home games Oct. 28 and Nov. 11. They will continue to show that they are united in this time of divide during the National Anthem.
“We intend to hold hands for the rest of the season to show everyone our unity as a diverse team,” Reid said.