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Role Models Taking the Field?

By Mariah Walker

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Megan Rapinoe, a United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) midfielder and 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick have recently taken a knee during the Star Spangled Banner. These are in addition to Hope Solo, goalkeeper, two-time Olympic gold medalist, and World Cup champion who was recently banned from playing with the USWNT for six months after some controversial comments regarding Sweden’s team at the Rio Olympics. Are these incidences and choices made by these professional athletes inappropriate?

Some student-athletes at Flushing High School have similar opinions when it comes to the meaning of sportsmanship. Sportsmanship by definition is ethical, appropriate, polite and fair behavior while participating in a game or athletic event. Junior Cal Endicott, Captain and starting quarterback of the Flushing varsity football team, said, “They [professional athletes] should be a role model in the most positive way they can be.”

Senior Captain Jacob Pittsley, one of Endicott’s teammates added, “They have other people looking up to them; Cal and I can look at NFL players and say ‘that’s who I want to be.’” As Kaepernick and Rapinoe take a knee as professional athletes, hundreds of thousands of children, athletes, and student-athletes are watching.

“I don’t think they’re taking a knee for the right reason. I understand where they’re coming from, in a way, but they’re not thinking about the people who they’re standing for. They really have to think about the people who fought for them, who can’t stand anymore,” said senior Lexi Draheim, Captain of varsity cross country and track.

            Pittsley agrees with Draheim: “Being part of your country, I mean you have to accept the both good and the bad. You can’t just pick one side. We’re Americans. We have the good things, we have the bad things”.

Looking into this issue deeper, should athletes be subjected to saying what others want them to say? Hope Solo didn’t respond to interviewers in a way she supposedly should have. Solo called Sweden’s female soccer team cowards at Rio this summer, after her team lost in penalty kicks. Captain Endicott defends Solo against the media: “Don’t ask the question if you don’t want the truth.”  

      Solo’s comments resulted in a six month ban from the USWNT, since she made the statements about another country’s team when she represented the United States at the Olympics, along with the rest of her team. As for Rapinoe and Kaepernick, neither of them have received punishment. All in all, the student-athletes interviewed believe that professional athletes should be role model-worthy; however, they believe these actions cannot be labeled necessarily as wrong.

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Flushing's High School's Independent Voice
Role Models Taking the Field?