The disgraceful conduct of American athletes

The disgraceful conduct of American athletes

The disgraceful conduct of American athletes

I don’t believe athletes who refuse to stand during the National Anthem are refusing on moral grounds. They’re selfish, unpatriotic. #NFLSOB Everyone should stand during the Pledge of Allegiance and for the National Anthem. And if they want to protest, do it someplace else. But most American athletes are spoiled, pampered babies who pretend to care but do so little with the riches they receive

By Ray Hanania

You don’t really hear about people who are true heroes in America. You only hear about the extremists who often do offensive things against this country.

We all know about Colin Kaepernick, the former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. He was drafted in 2011 and in six years made a name for himself not by playing great football, but by refusing to stand during the playing of the national anthem.

Kaepernick claimed he was protesting the mistreatment of African Americans. Oh, the disadvantages he must have experienced after signing his $139 million contract.

Yes, the face of American sports is crowded with images of spoiled wealth, drug and gambling abuses, and many athletes who brutalize woman and use their celebrity to commit crimes.



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English: Colin Kaepernick passing the ball dur...

Colin Kaepernick passing the ball during a game against Hawaii in October 2010. (Cropped frame out) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In this wasteland of excessive hypocrisy called American sports, some have done the right thing. One of them was Alejandro Villanueva, a true American hero in my book.

As dozens of football players kneeled Sunday in protest during the playing of the national anthem, Villanueva refused to do that and instead took the side of respecting America.

President Donald Trump last week criticized football players who refused to stand during the national anthem, and he quickly came under political attack from the players, the NFL, and the far left.

Villanueva’s team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, decided to join the anti-anthem protest by staying in the locker room Sunday during the playing of the national anthem. But Villanueva refused to join. He could be seen at the entrance to the tunnel as the national anthem boomed from the stadium’s speakers as a reminder of what this country is really about.

Villanueva is someone who put his life on the line for America. He was a captain and an Army Ranger who served three tours of duty in Afghanistan. He truly did something for American freedom.

I am no big sports authority. I don’t pretend to know all the teams, all the players or all the statistics. But I do know America. I served in the military. Refusing to stand and being disrespectful during the playing of the national anthem is un-American and shameful.

The protests today are not like the protests that began in the late 1960s when two black athletes, gold medalist Tommie Smith and bronze medalist John Carlos, held up their fists in a Black Power protest at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.

Those protests had meaning. Among the icons of that protest era were two athletes at the Olympics who held their fists in the air to protest the nation’s civil rights violations. Silver-medal winner Peter Norman of Australia put a spotlight on human rights violations.

In the 1960s, racism and civil rights violations were rampant in this country and something needed to be done but it wasn’t being done. They also paid for their principles. Both Carlos and Smith were kicked out of the Games, kicked off the U.S. Olympic team and vilified for what they did.

Today, nearly 50 years later, the circumstances are different. American society aggressively fights racism. It’s not like in the 1960s when many Americans closed their eyes and there were no opportunities for Blacks and other minorities. Today, African Americans have equal rights and you see the fruits of that change on every news channel, in every sport and in business.

It’s different today than before.

That’s why I think the intent of NFL players protesting during the playing of the National Anthem is flawed. It seems corrupted. It seems motivated by selfish and personal agendas rather than standing for justice, as Carlos and Smith did in 1968.

Protesting is too fashionable, and it lacks real substance. Kaepernick lost his job and his big contract, but no other NFL player has been punished by a team or the league for disrespecting the anthem like taking to a knee during the anthem’s playing.

I always laugh when the rich, including NFL players, throw nickels at poverty and take emotional shortcuts to get attention. Imagine a guy making $139 million donating $100,000 to a good cause. That’s like a normal person like you and me giving $5 to a local charity.

Does it really deserve all that accolade? No. It wasn’t hard for me to do it and it isn’t hard for the wealthy athletes to do it.

If NFL players really wanted to fight racism, how about tapping the substance of their obscene wealth, creating real programs to educate people. Or maybe have the NFL create jobs or other opportunities for the unemployed? Not just Blacks or minorities but all people who are unemployed and poor!

Those players who can’t stand during the playing of the national anthem should be fired from their teams or at least fined. There is a debate about whether the NFL does or doesn’t require players to stand in respect of the national anthem, but it’s clear in our Code of Laws (36 U.S. Code § 301 – National anthem). All Americans should stand and show respect.

How many Americans have died fighting to defend that national anthem on the battlefield? How many football players ever served in the military? Villanueva did and he has a right to make a statement.

The letters NFL do mean SOB in my book.

I support President Trump’s boycott of the NFL. You should, too. For America.

(Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist, author and former Chicago City Hall reporter. Email him at Join he conversation on his Facebook Page at /rghanania)


Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist, author & former Chicago City Hall reporter (1977-1992). A veteran who served during the Vietnam War and the recipient of four SPJ Peter Lisagor Awards for column writing, Hanania writes weekly opinion columns on mainstream American & Chicagoland topics for the Southwest News-Herald, Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers, and Suburban Chicagoland.  

Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A critic of mainstream news media bias, Hanania advocates for peace & justice for Israel & Palestine, & the empowerment of Arabs in America. 

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Click Here to LISTEN to Hanania's live radio show on 2nd Friday every month 7 AM CST. Click here to listen to Ray's Podcasts. 

His columns are archived here. Hanania was named "Best Ethnic American Columnist" by the New America Media in November 2007, and is the 2009 recipient of the SPJ National Sigma Delta Chi Award for column writing.

Email Ray Hanania at

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