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The United States Soccer Federation has issues a new order requiring all players to “stand respectfully” during the playing of the national anthem before games. US Soccer revealed this new policy after star player Megan Rapinoe took a knee before a game against Thailand in September. The choice to take a knee during the national anthem is one many athletes around the country make, and with the first formal policy being put in place, it raises the question of how other leagues nationwide may take similar measures.

The issue around the national anthem was first brought about when Colin Kaepernick took a knee in August of this past NFL season. His protest started a movement for athletes all around the nation. Many coaches have responded to the issue, but US Soccer is the first organization to outlaw players from doing so.

The policy states, “All persons representing a federation national team shall stand respectfully during the playing of national anthems at any event in which the federation is represented.”

Taking a knee has become a controversial issue. All players have the freedom of speech and the right to protest, and it is arguable that restricting someone’s right to do so is a direct violation of U.S. law. Also, it is arguable that kneeling during the national anthem is disrespecting the country, and in many other countries, people are put in jail for such actions.

Either way, the sports organizations should come to a consensus. The regulation put in place by the US Soccer Federation could be one adopted by other leagues such as the NFL or NBA, or it could be one of its kind.

In the case of US Soccer, the men and women on the field are wearing jerseys that represent the United States of America, and whether or not the regulation is morally just, it does have reason behind it because they are playing for their nation in the first place. With that being said, it is important to take into account the ideals that are encompassed in the name on their jerseys and every player on that team has just as much of a right to protest as Colin Kaepernick does, or as any other US citizen.

A decision must be reached because this controversial topic has caused unrest around the country. Could every sports organization require players to stand for the national anthem? Or could it reach the point where we stop playing the national anthem before games altogether? How will this appeal to an international level, and will Olympians start kneeling during the medal ceremonies? Where is the line drawn, or should it be drawn at all? There are many unanswered questions, and our country must work together to answer them.

Published by Lia Assimakopoulos