Had a lively discussion with some co-workers today about this. Like PP1 has already stated, in just about every other situation, kneeling is a sign of reverence.
I will admit, my stance on this whole issue has shifted over the past day or two. Instead of just relying on shared Facebook posts, I've tried to do some "research" of my own. Some reinforced what I already knew, but some was new. But ultimately it was the following analogies that really made me think.
Let's say the government comes out and says they're considering removing all mention of "In God We Trust", and are looking at doing it the first of the new year. Now say you had a ballplayer, who's father was a minister, and he came out and said "I'm going to kneel during the anthem, to protest the removal of God from our government." While perhaps a little odd, you'd certain understand his reasoning and motives.
Or, let's say there's a ballplayer who's father had been in the service (for argument's sake, let's say a veteran of the Vietnam). Say he came home with undiagnosed PTSD, started drinking, divorced his wife and left his family, eventually became homeless before finally killing himself. Now imagine his son (the ballplayer) on the anniversary of his father's death comes out and says our government doesn't do enough for our soldiers. "They don't get proper health care, benefits or job opportunities when they get back home. They deserve more than what they get if/when they get home. I'm going to kneel during the anthem until the treatment of our honorable men and women in the armed services improves." Same result here...you'd understand his reasoning and motive.
In both instances, I firmly believe there would be not only hundreds, but likely thousands (especially in the military example) of people in the stadium joining in. Many would not consider the act of kneeling in those examples as disrespectful of the flag/anthem/military. In fact, as the message got out, I could even see there being peer pressure TO KNEEL. ("What do you have against helping our military?!? Do you feel they don't deserve it?!?" - gasp)
So, why is it considered disrespectful today? If you could see either one of those two examples occurring without the uproar going on now...it's because it's not ultimately HOW the players/people are protesting...it's WHAT they're protesting. Now you're issuing your own degrees of what's worthy of protesting and what's not.
The other issues that I hear are "These guys are millionaires, what do they have to protest?" or "They're supposed to be role models, they're setting a bad example." To which I would reply...wouldn't the world be better off if more rich people cared about "the common man"? I mean, not in the token sense of giving a $100 tip to a waitress. But, genuinely cared about their community (and I'm not referring to a gated community) and trying to do things to improve it. And as far as a role model, really? You want to teach your son (or daughter) to NOT care? You want your athletes to play the game, make their money, drive away in their expensive cars and forget about everyone else? Come on, you know the answer to that.
All of that has impacted how I've looked at the situation going on right now. And, as I said before, I have shifted how I've felt. Is it the method I would've chosen? Probably not. But, I understand.
The problems that I have with what's going on now, is that there's too many "generalities". I hated Kaepernick's pig socks, because it implied that all police are pigs. He may have had a specific instance in mind, but that's not what came across to me.
And the other problem that I don't like, is that I've yet to hear suggestions for solutions. I understand you feel there's a problem. But, how do we go about solving it? From your perspective, what do we need to do to make inroads? Just talking about the fact that there's a problem is really just lip service in the grand scheme of trying to enact change. And again, be specific. Saying we need to have racial justice doesn't really do a whole lot, even though I may agree with you.
***Sorry for the length folks. Just went back and reread what I wrote. Never intended for it to end up this long. ***