By its very definitionn, playing the star spangled banner at sporting events is a political statement. We are literally the only country in the world that equates internal sporting events (as opposed to The Olympics where athletes primarily represent their country) with patriotism, and it is an empty, vacuous demonstration of such. Secondly, it is well advised that more than a few people do research not only into the history of the writing of the star spangled banner, ( the original third verse being a vigorous and violent defense of the murder of slaves and the institution of slavery in general) yet also research the symbiosis between sports and politics in general, which has always existed.. People like Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Bill Walton, Branch Ricky, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Wilma Rudolph, John Carlos and Tommie Williams, Billy Jean King and Martina Navatrilova, and Mohammed Ali were at the forefront of social change and equality in this country because they engaged politically. Mohammed Ali was once considered a traitor and a pariah, regarded as un-american for refusing induction into the armed forces as a protest against the racist, violent, and illegal treatment of black americans. He is now universally regarded as an american hero for standing up for his beliefs. Sports figures are not yours to own or yours to dictate their opinions, motives, gestures, or actions, or to silence, They are human beings and American citizens, many from impoverished backgrounds who just happen to have extraordinary talents and work ethic that allow them to make a lot of money and play a game for a living. The game they play is a JOB just like yours, and it takes physical and mental strength beyond imagination. Pro athletes have families, morgtages, pay taxes, shop for groceries, and suffer from the same ailments all of us do. They do not belong to you and their loyalty is to themselves and their families foremost, not the team they play for. You want politics out of sports? Get rid of the anthem before sporting events, stop with the F-16 flyovers and the constant and shameless phony salutes to the soldiers. Nobody in this country should be coerced into declaring their oath of allegiance, whether it is standing during the star spangled banner, or being forced to say the pledge of allegiance at school. This is the kind of shit that’s done in North Korea and was done in Nazi Germany. I love my country and I’ll express it by living up to the ideals of the Constitution and helping to keep improving as a nation by acknowledging our past sins and doing something to rectify our wrongs. I have always stood for the anthem because i believe in the promise and spirit of america. I do so because it is my choice. It is also my right not to. Once America becomes a country that coerces and forces its citizens into declaring allegiances, America loses all of its ideals of freedom. America is about the constitutional right to express one’s opinion without fear of government intrusion into their lives. Donald Trump, openly racist, misogynist liar who maakes fun of disabled people, has made it his mission over the last year to extoll the horrible place America is, expressing his admiration for Kim Jung Un and Vladimir Putin, and people are upset at Colin Kaepernick for kneeling on the sidelines during the national anthem? Kaepernick is the traitor? No, what he, and many others are now starting to do, is the very essence of America, the free expression of speech in an effort to affect positive change. It’s often messy, and you dont have to agree with it but thats the thing America is, not phony, forced oaths and support the troops bumper stickers on the back of Humvees driven by people who would never volunteer to serve in the armed forces or go to war, but would gladly watch others go off and die because of the ridiculous notion that their sacrifice allows you to watch football on Sunday from your couch and ordering Papa Johns because Peyton Manning told you to.