“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” – The United States Constitution

Normally, I wouldn’t dare write about politics because it is not my area of expertise. However, when politics becomes intertwined with the world of sports, my interest is peaked.

The first amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” August 26, 2016, Colin Kaepernick takes a knee during the national anthem in protest to “stand up for people that are oppressed.” After several questionable deaths involving police officers killing African Americans, Kaepernick decided to make a statement. He didn’t use any vulgar language, he didn’t scream and shout at police officers, he didn’t try to start a riot. He simply took a knee. It doesn’t get more peaceful than that. And according the words written by our forefathers, he had every right to do so.

You know who else has those rights? You do. Your brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins, and neighbors. The white supremacists who march for their cause. The Black Lives Matter members. From the homeless man sitting under the tunnel in Washington D.C. to the man sitting in the Oval Office in Washington D.C.. Every single American has the same rights.

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” – Oath of Office of the President of the United States.

On September 22, 2017, President Donald Trump said “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!” This was in response to the number of NFL players who had chosen to exercise their right to peaceful protest and take a knee during the national anthem in support of Colin Kaepernick and his protest for the oppressed. Correct me if I’m wrong, but by saying someone should be fired for exercising a constitutional right is NOT preserving, protecting, or defending the Constitution of the United States. As a matter of fact, I would dare to say that President Trump broke his Oath of Office with this statement.

Nobody is forced to sit down in front of the television on Sunday and watch football. That’s the beauty of this country, nobody can force you to do anything. If you disagree with a player’s decision to peacefully protest, that is your right. If you want to take it a step further, don’t buy that player’s jersey or watch that player’s team or draft him on your fantasy team. But to say that a player should be fired for exercising their First Amendment right is ludicrous. To not defend that Constitutional right is unpresidential.

The First Amendment applies to all of us. From the white supremacist to the NFL player who decides to take a knee. As long as your protest is peaceful, protest you may. Whether it be Colin Kaepernick, Michael Bennett, or Bruce Maxwell, someone taking a knee during the National Anthem should not be an area of concern for the President of the United States and the leader of the free world. As a matter of fact, the POTUS should encourage the citizens of this country to exercise their rights. That’s what actually “Makes America Great.” In other countries, not only do you not have the right to do things like this, but people could be put to death for it. That is not what this country is about.

Again, politics is not my area of expertise and normally I try to stay away from it, but this particular topic is so strong as far as the message it sends to our citizens and our youth, that it has become impossible to ignore. Sports are a tool for unification. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at a baseball, basketball, or football game and given the person next to me a high-five or had a conversation with them. And I’m not talking about the people you go to the game with, I mean complete strangers. People from other states, cities, and countries, ethnicity’s, religions, and cultures are all unified for the duration of that game or parade. We are all fans. We are one unit. When I talk about my favorite teams, I wouldn’t say “the Knicks are starting a rebuild,” I would say, “we are starting a rebuild.” As fans, we become part of the team. That is what makes sports so amazing from a fan’s perspective. As an athlete, teammates form a bond that is hard to describe. It’s a brotherhood or a sisterhood. Nothing unifies us quite like sports and for our President to try and take something as pure and universally unifying as these sports we hold near and dear to our hearts, it’s just sad. It’s sad that this is the time we live in. It’s sad that these are the conversations we have to have. It’s sad that our rights are being challenged by the ones sworn to protect them. I hope people open their eyes and use this moment in our history as a reason to come together. The views of some are not the views of all and the world is watching. We must protect our own rights if those who are sworn to do so will not. We, as a people, must be the ones to truly make America great again.