There are so many things to respond to here. The NFL has long wrapped itself in the American flag yet blithely violates one of the rules for its display by holding it horizontally in every stadium on opening day. But that is another issue.
The basic questions seem to be: Is there racial injustice in America? Is there racially motivated police brutality in America? Do black athletes have the right to protest? Do young men who make millions of dollars by "playing a game" have the right to protest? The answer to all of these should be, "Yes".
Is taking a knee during the playing of the National Anthem showing disrespect for the flag and the country? The answer probably depends on what you believe America and the flag should represent and whether it actually does.
Are there other platforms that the protests could take? Sure. Would they be as visible and get the same amount of attention? I doubt it. Would they upset as many people as they have? Probably not. Would they achieve anything meaningful? Who knows?
Perhaps football players, football fans and all the rest of Americans should be asking the real questions that spurred the protests in the first place. Maybe then America can get on with playing a game.
At a Physical Therapy class last week, I heard a fellow classmate bemoaning the athlete protests as being at the 'wrong venue'. Your examples above of alternative 'venues' or platforms are excellent.
Protest and conflict are messy: Colin Kapernick is not a perfect role model. But there is a growing awareness of the real mis-treatment and prejudice against blacks more than 150 years after the Civil War. I say hurray for the players - they found a venue with huge media coverage.
I also agree with the comment from djfrodo that both the military and the NFL, a quasi-military organization, have infused patriotism into football games, as well as other USA sports.
So first, NFL players weren't on the field for the anthem until 2009: http://www.snopes.com/nfl-sideline-anthem/
So, it really wasn't an issue, at all.
Second, the military has been paying major sports leagues to infuse patriotism into their leagues: https://thinkprogress.org/nfl-dod-national-anthem-6f682cebc7cd/
I don't watch football anymore, but every time I see a camouflaged baseball uniform for "Veterans" or...whatever, I just hate it.
God Bless America became big in the 7th inning stretch after 9/11, before that it was "Take Me Out to the Ball Game".
Basically when I go to a game I suddenly have to go to the bathroom at the start of the game, and during the 7th inning stretch.
Colin Kaepernick clearly stated why he was protesting, and I'm with him. The amount of unarmed civilians killed by police, caught on tape, and not prosecuted is...well at this point we're living in another reality.
But you have to stand in awe at the spin machine that took the initial protest and somehow turned it into a protest against the flag, the military, the country, and freedom.
I'm glad you've observed enough to change your mind, but I don't think a lot of people have...and they won't.
Our President didn't condemn white nationalists chanting "Jews will not replace us" while walking with tiki torches looking like this: http://i2.cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/170812072518-01-charlottesville-white-supremacists-0811-restricted-exlarge-169.jpg
But he called players peacefully protesting at a sporting event "Son of a bitches": https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/22/donald-trump-nfl-national-anthem-protests
Colin Kaepernick's protest reminds me of something from long ago: http://media2.intoday.in/indiatoday/images/stories/tommie-smith-660_071312105158.jpg
--edit: i was missing some words
The sturm and dang surrounding the NFL players protest has caused me to reexamine the protest and
my feelings regarding same.
Like many, I was taken aback by Colin Kaepernick's action during the 2016 season.
My first, and for a long time,my only reaction, was like virtually every football fan; disgust.
I was offended. For crying outloud it's our national anthem, and the flag is the symbol of our country.
My father and uncles, one of whom gave his life fought a war under this flag.
My opinion didn't change for a longtime (and maybe it hasn't yet).
I ,thought Kaepernick was an ass, and I wasn't surprised when he couldn't find a job for the 2017 season.
Although I find it hypocritical for the NFL owners to lock arms with their players in a show of unity, when
they refuse to offer him a job, even though some of them could use him.
Recently I have listened to multiple articulate players explain the protest.
I am compelled to reconsider my opinions.
I have learned that the protest is not about the anthem or the flag as opposed to a statement regarding race and racial justice in our Country
I have come to the opinion that it is the flag and the words of the Pledge of Allegiance that justify the protest.
The anthem at an NFL game represents a platform.
The issue of platform is worth considering
The overwhelming majority of NFL fans believe and feel that taking a knee or locking arms is wrong and
that the anthem is the wrong platform.
It would be interesting to see the reaction if the players chose to stand for the anthem ,but chose to take a knee during a play.
A platform is necessary if the protest is to heard and effective.
Should Rosa Parks have forgone the Montgomery bus as a platform and written a letter to the
bus company asking to be treated equally?
Should the people who sat in at the Woolworth's luncheonette telephoned the store manager asking to
be a seated?
Should Dr. King have sent his "I Have A Dream" speech to the newspapers as a Letter to the Editor?
Should the Right to Advocates stay in their churches as opposes to praying on streetcorners and bridges?
Are these not all platforms?
We are all entitled to our opinions on race and racial justice. Hopefully, we have facts to support those opinions.
The NFL players protests call upon all of us to examine our opinions
Part of me remains offended by protests during the anthem and/or flag presentation,but as I listen
and watch I realize that the anthem, the flag the Pledge of Allegiance, and most importantly the
Constitution are all about the right to protest.