The American Family Association has accused athletes across America who are following San Francisco 49ers football player Colin Kaepernick in his decision to not stand during the national anthem of "disgracing" and "embarrassing" themselves and their teams.
"As the football season rolls on, more and more athletes are disgracing themselves and embarrassing their coaches and teams by thumbing their noses at the national anthem," said Buddy Smith, AFA Senior Vice-President, on Thursday.
Smith pointed out that unlike Kaepernick, who protested against racial discrimination in America by kneeling during the anthem, other players such as Millikin University linebacker Conner Brewer decided to go in another direction and stand on the sideline during the anthem while his teammates chose to stay in the locker room.
"Conner's stand is a testament to the bravery and patriotic pride of those who defended Fort McHenry the night before Francis Scott Key wrote our nation's rallying cry," Smith wrote.
"Let's not let Conner stand alone. Make a statement that our national anthem is worth standing for!" he added about AFA's pledge.
The "I Stand for the National Anthem" pledge has been signed by over 33,000 people as of Friday morning.
Kaepernick has explained that he is protesting because America "oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way."
He added: "There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder. I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. ... If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right."
There have been various different reaction from the sports world and American society in general to Kaepernick's antics during the anthem, with a host of different sports stars choosing to join the quarterback in his protest.
Those that protested included Kaepernick's teammates Eric Reid, Eli Harold, Jaquiski Tartt, Antoine Bethea, Rashard Robinson and Keith Reaser. Some players from Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers, the Redskins, Raiders, Seahawks, Titans, Colts, and Dolphins also joined the national anthem protest.
Others, such as New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, argued that Kaepernick is disrespecting the flag.
"He can speak out about a very important issue. But there's plenty of other ways that you can do that in a peaceful manner that doesn't involve being disrespectful to the American flag," Brees argued in August.
Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said that while he supports Kaepernick's concerns, he disagrees with his method of protest.
"There are certain statistics that are put out there to make sure police profile certain people in certain neighborhoods, and that needs to change. So there is some depth and some truth to what he's doing," Sherman said, according to Yahoo Sports. "I think he could have picked a better platform and a better way to do it, but every day they say athletes are so robotic and do everything by the book. And then when somebody takes a stand like that, he gets his head chopped off."