Tonight on ‘What Would You Do?’ student athletes are threatened to be kicked off their football team for wanting to take a knee during the National Anthem.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick made headlines back in September 2016 when he took a knee for the first time in protest against the oppression of people of color and ongoing issues with police brutality.
Over the last two seasons, players have continued taking knees, raising fists, and staying in the locker room during the playing of the National Anthem. During the 2018 NFL preseason, players continued the protests.
Just this week, Nike revealed and honored the 30th anniversary of its "Just Do It" campaign with ads featuring Kaepernick. The unsigned quarterback tweeted a photo of himself with the caption: "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything."
President Trump on Wednesday criticized Nike, blasting the sport giant and the NFL in a tweet. “Just like the NFL, whose ratings have gone WAY DOWN, Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts," he said on Twitter.
In tonight’s episode, we see what happened in New York and Kentucky when diners witnessed a high school football coach telling his star athlete if he kneels during the National Anthem, he will be kicked off the team. Our actors, Jamari and Jacob, played black student athletes who were passionate about taking a knee and standing up for what they believed in, while our coaches, played by Roy and Tim, told the athletes they are stomping on the flag if they take a knee.
Tim: "Politics have no place on the field, Jacob. I’m telling you right now you’re required to stand."
Jacob: "You’d really keep me from playing for this, coach? This is something I strongly believe in… Don’t I have a right to free speech?"
Tim: "I don’t think you understand, freedom isn’t free. You should be standing up for our country."
Throughout the day, there was a wide range of reactions. While in the Bronx, New York, two women listened to our actors’ conversation and when they heard Jamari was being condemned for wanting to take a knee, one of the women stepped up to our coach and said, “He has the right to take the stance for what he wants to take a stance for.” Her friend quickly added, “You’re not thinking about his perspective as a young black student. Young black males are under attack right now. It is an amazing thing that he is fearless enough to say he has an opinion.”
We also tried out this scene using white football players. Our actors, Anthony and Bradley, played white football players who supported their black teammates’ protest and told their coach they wanted to take a knee with them in solidarity.
While in Bardstown, Kentucky, our actors, Bradley and Tim, met a husband and wife who were former marines.
With a passionate argument supporting the coach, he said to our football team captain, “It’s very disrespectful to military personnel, to everybody who has fought for your freedom to be able to do that, to kneel on that field. Kneeling for the National Anthem is like spitting in my face.”
To see how other customers react, make sure to tune in to "What Would You Do?" tonight at 9/8c on ABC.