Last updated on: 3/27/2024 | Author:

Is Kneeling during the National Anthem an Appropriate Form of Protest?

The debate about kneeling or sitting in protest during the national anthem was ignited by Colin Kaepernick in 2016 and escalated to become a nationally divisive issue. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first refused to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner” on Aug. 26, 2016, to protest racial injustice and police brutality in the United States. Since that time, many other professional football players, high school athletes, and professional athletes in other sports have refused to stand for the national anthem. These protests have generated controversy and sparked a public conversation about the protesters’ messages and how they’ve chosen to deliver them. The debate largely quieted after the summer of 2020, with a brief resurgence about athletes displaying political gestures on Olympic podiums of Tokyo in 2021 and Beijing in 2022. For more on kneeling during the national anthem, explore the ProCon debate.

PRO (yes)

CON (no)


Donald Trump:

“The NFL has all sort of rules and regulations. The only way out for them is to set a rule that you can’t kneel during our National Anthem!”

“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!”


Donald Trump,, Sep. 26, 2017
Brian Armen Graham, “Donald Trump Blasts NFL Anthem Protesters: ‘Get That Son of a Bitch off the Field,'”, Sep. 23, 2017

Not Clear or Not Found

Joe Biden:

No position as of Mar. 21, 2024.

Editors’ Note: In 2020 and 2021, there was some controversy over Biden kneeling in photos with athletes. The context of the photos was clarified: the national anthem was not playing and Biden kneeled so as to not block the the athletes.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr:

No position as of Mar. 21, 2024.