It may be week five of the NFL regular season, but the games and match-ups are the least of people’s concerns when it comes to the National Football League this fall.
Week after week, tensions and words are flying crazier than a Hail Mary to the end zone as more and more athletes join the protest against black oppression in America by “taking a knee” during the playing of the National Anthem.
Initiated by quarterback Colin Kaepernick last season, the decision to either kneel or sit during the Star Spangled Banner, rather than stand at attention, was a bold refusal to honor the flag of the country that Kaepernick believes oppresses black people and people of color.
It didn’t take but one game and one press conference to make him either the most hated athlete in the NFL, or the most praised. The following week brought an army of support from a number of fellow players.
This season is no different. With more players than ever joining the protest against the American flag, the 2017 NFL season has very little to do with football, and everything to do with politics and protests.
While players are standing, kneeling, sitting or twitter-war-ing with President Trump about doing so, everyday people like Gene Hanson are taking a stance of their own.
The 77-year-old from Edgeley, North Dakota, took to his 850-acre farm with a message for the players who he feels have chosen the wrong place to protest.
It reads: “We stand for the National Anthem.”
The message plowed in his bean field spans the length of two football fields.
For Hanson, it’s not the protest against black oppression that bothers him, it’s the manner in which it’s being executed.
“A lot of people died over our flag,” he says. “We’re able to voice our opinion because of it. If you’re going to show respect for anything, do it for the national anthem.”
And this farmer didn’t use GPS technology to design his larger-than-life message.
According to Fox News, “He flies his two-seater plane, and if his design passes the test, he snaps a pic with a Cannon camera and posts it on Facebook. He said he’s only been unsuccessful twice.”
Though messages like Hanson’s are gaining widespread attention, of course, it’s not every NFL player who is taking a knee.
Many players are in agreement with the farmer, that there is a time and place for such demonstrations, and the football field is not one of them.
Others, like Baltimore Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson, are in full agreement with Kaepernick’s reasoning, but still respectfully refuse to kneel for the Star Spangled Banner, out of respect for his country.
Watson’s chosen response has been to stand in unison with America, while respecting his kneeling brothers, and ultimately pointing to the King as the only hope for restoring peace:
“I locked arms, and I also pointed to the skies just because I really believe that the Lord will really have to have His hand on us when it comes to reconciling our differences.”
As for Gene Hanson, the farmer says the NFL won’t be getting airtime in his house this season.
If there’s one thing our country desperately needs right now, it’s something, or some One, to unify us once again.
One nation under God.
My prayer is that the focus would turn from division, oppression and hate to, instead, a band of brothers leading America in the way of God, and the hope that can be found in Him to restore our broken nation.