On three occasions someone has tried to get me talking about the Colin Kaepernick situation. Without asking, I already know what side they’re on. They just feel the need to know what side I’m on.

I return their question with a question: “Why do they play that song before every game?”

So far, I’ve repeatedly received the same three answers: 1. It’s tradition. 2. I don’t know. 3. It doesn’t matter. Then I have to endure their rant on how great this country is; how it’s the greatest place in the world to live; how people are dying to get to America for a better life; how if you’re not going to respect the flag you should leave; and how earning millions of dollars should exclude you from protesting anything.

The Philadelphia Daily News reserved today’s back page to a huge photo of 3 black Philadelphia Eagles football players with raised fists during last night’s National Anthem with the headline: “Hollow Gesture – Eagles’ First Anthem Protest Lacks Impact”, to which I respond… “EXACTLY!”

I shouldn’t try to speak for most black people, but if I did, most of us aren’t waiting for the NFL camera man to point out the protestor(s) before every game, and we surely don’t want to hear their pregame analysis of these actions.

I doubt If I’m alone in saying that whenever I’ve been at an event where ‘The Anthem’ is played in front of a bunch of black folks, there’s always plenty of people keeping their seats, turning their backs, leaving the room, not removing their hats, or refusing to get off the cell phone. This is far from a new phenomenon. Colin Kaepernick is not the first person we’ve seen stage a silent protest.

For years, I’ve wondered why they play the National Anthem before a sporting event but had no problem taking the Pledge of Allegiance out of the classroom? If there was ever a time and place to learn to respect what the flag represents it would be as a student in school. At least a couple generations have been exempt from ‘Nationalism 101’ as youth, so why should we expect them to catch on as adults?

My curiosity got the best of me. I found an ESPN Magazine article from 2011 that goes into detail how America started playing the National Anthem before games. Just as expected, it was a random series of events that started this movement and we’ve been going along for the ride for the past 98 years. However, in this little bit of research, I did uncover that the connection between the military and The Anthem is what kept the song in rotation during baseball games back then. For those who say that disrespecting The Anthem is disrespecting the military, they may be on to something and they don’t even know why.

Here’s five of the more interesting things I’ve heard and read about this Anthem stuff recently:

-Colin Kaepernick had been protesting at several games before a black reporter saw him quietly sitting alone behind the bench minding his own business during the playing of the anthem and asked him what was up. Colin told him about his protest and Mr. Reporter went on and snitched it to the world. How ironic. I wonder if he got a raise.

-The catholic high school coach in Camden County, New Jersey said he took a knee during the anthem because that’s what football players do when someone is injured and hurting – they take a knee. He said a lot of people are hurting in America.

-An ex-NFL player said he and most of his teammates use Anthem time to scowl at the opposing team across the field. The only time he paid attention was when a big star was singing.

-One caller to a radio station said some football players are probably from the Marshawn Lynch school of protest – “I’m just here so I won’t get fined.”

-A black baseball player said he would protest but there’s so few black players that he doesn’t think Major League Baseball would be as forgiving as the NFL.

If you read the ESPN story, you’ll discover that the spirit that started the anthem is long gone. It may pop up from time to time during certain events that rock the nation, but for the most part, it may be time to rethink whether the anthem needs to be played before every game at the particular sporting events it always seems to be played.

For some reason, most sporting events can start a game or match without the anthem, but football, baseball, basketball, hockey, and soccer can’t live without it. Some events wait til the end to play the anthem. Some events disrespect the flag by turning it into a garment that athletes drape around themselves after victory. Sometimes they put it on the ground which is a no-no, too.

Obviously, the anthem and flag talk has taken racial sides. I think whites are surprised to learn that blacks don’t think as much about the anthem and flag as they’d like us to and it upsets them. I think blacks are surprised that white folks didn’t already know how many blacks feel.

Going back to the Eagles game last night, during the singing (screaming) of the national anthem, the mostly white crowd was clapping and yelling.

That didn’t appear very respectful to me.

Just get rid of the song just like we’ve done away with the Pledge of Allegiance in the classroom. It’s not going to hurt anything. In fact, it just may bring more folks together.

Bonus Coverage

I attended a conference a few weekends ago and the room was asked to split into groups of 4 to prepare a 5-minute mock presentation. A group of 4 blacks were in the back of the room and they teamed up and did a mock interview show with a black military veteran and a black mother of a police shooting victim discussing Colin Kaepernick and the flag. You could hear a pin drop at the mostly white event as they took opposing sides with compelling dialogue. It seemed so real. They proved that this isn’t just an issue divided by race.

I believe there’s video of their presentation. If I can get it, I’m going to show it.