The Pittsburgh Penguins have decided to go to the White House for the traditional visit of a championship team. They issued a public statement on Sunday. The announcement came on the same day players all around the NFL made a point of kneeling during the American national anthem after controversial comments directed at them from the White House and specifically the President.
The most important part of the statement delivered by the Penguins organization should be that the Pittsburgh Penguins are in fact a championship team. Instead, Penguins nation finds itself almost as divided as it was in the Fleury/Murray debate.
Like that old telephone game where a message is whispered from one person to the other down a chain and the message gets twisted and misconstrued as it goes down the line, the message being sent by NFL players, in what’s become known as the #TakeAKnee campaign, has been lost. No matter what you or any of us believe the original goals were of those who started the anthem kneel down in the first place, the battle has morphed into taking sides on whether they have a right to kneel at all.
What’s been forgotten is all those exercising their right to stand. How do we interpret that?
Kneeling is a definitive action. When you take a knee during the anthem, regardless of your reasons, you’re definitely noticeably saying something. That’s not true for those who stand. People can stand for many reasons. Bottom line: standing isn’t necessarily the same as intentionally not kneeling.
With their decision to visit the President, the Pittsburgh Penguins are essentially standing. It isn’t fair to immediately interpret that decision as anything other than not taking a side. There’s even a chance the decision has nothing to do with a protest or support of a cause, but simply because they are champions and that’s what championship teams have always done. The statement does reference the protest, but clearly states “any agreement or disagreement with a president’s politics, policies or agenda can be expressed in other ways. However, we very much respect the rights of other individuals and groups to express themselves as they see fit.”
Is there anything absolute about whether they agree or disagree with the President or White House Policies? Or are they just saying if they do or do not have a point to make, they don’t feel boycotting this visit (the equivalent of kneeing) would be the best fit for the organization to get a message across.
Let us know what you think the Penguins organization is trying to say with this statement and why you think it.