I care very little, if at all, what professional athletes think about anything outside their area of expertise. And I am not sure President Donald Trump should care, either ("With silent protests, NFL rebukes president," Sept. 25). If sports franchises choose to allow their organizations to serve as a forum for athletes to express themselves on topics unrelated to what they were hired to do, that's their prerogative.

As far as I can tell, "taking a knee" during the anthem represents a protest against "social injustice." This term would seem to apply largely to racial-, ethnic- or gender-specific discrimination, but maybe more than that depending on whom you talk to — or who is kneeling. If the objective is to highlight the need to eliminate or greatly diminish social injustice, I think it's fair to ask who will decide what success means and what will be the measurement in claiming success.

Hopefully, part of some process will lead to serious dialogue on what exactly is "social justice" and what might be viable solutions. With subjective opinions being inevitable, I am not optimistic about an agreed-upon resolution anytime soon. In the interim, I will continue to stand for the anthem and for what I think it represents, including mechanisms to facilitate addressing these issues.

For those who choose not to stand with me, our freedom to disagree is the one factor that gives me the most hope.


• • •

My response to the players and the NFL regarding this weekend's protest is as follows: Stop the kneeling, sitting and the moral indignation if you have done any of the following in the last year: 1. Disrespected your wife or girlfriend — that means hitting or abuse in any fashion — and it should go without saying, but that includes the use of a prostitute and strip clubs. 2. Assaulted anyone or carried an illegal weapon. 3. Ingested any performance-enhancing drugs. 4. Ingested any illegal or illicit drugs. 5. And most important, stand up if you have not protested or become involved out of the spotlight/stadium, in street clothes on your own personal time. To the fans I say: Go spend the time with your family or loved ones next Sunday.


• • •

As a veteran, I am sickened by the lack of respect for my flag. It's not that I disagree with the purpose of the protest; it's the method. My suggestion is that the pro teams take down the American flags in and near the stadiums and quit playing the national anthem. End of problem.


• • •

While the conversation and debate around the NFL players centers on what is "respectful" protest or "disrespectful" to our flag, I find a greater undercurrent of concern. For the second time in as many weeks, this administration has called on private businesses or privately held corporations to fire employees based on what it sees as disrespectful or inappropriate behavior by their employees toward the administration or the country.

In the first instance, Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated that ESPN's Jemele Hill should be fired for voicing an opinion regarding Trump. In the second, you have Trump saying NFL players should be fired for kneeling during the playing of the national anthem. This, to me, is a scary and slippery slope. Yes, Harris is black, as are the majority of NFL players taking a knee. But the race issue aside, we have an administration saying a private citizen should be dismissed from employment for "disrespectful" statements about the president or "disrespecting" the flag. That is one step closer to totalitarianism.

When our government calls for dismantling the livelihoods of private citizens because the government disagrees with them, our Constitution has lost all meaning.


• • •

If you do not put down your drinks and snacks when watching a sporting event such as the NFL, NBA, NASCAR or other events and stand up when the national anthem is being sung or played, you should not complain what others do. Just because you are not at the event does not give you the right to sit the national anthem out.

Donald P. Weaver, Minneapolis


Minnesota health care leadership shows folly of 'repeal and replace'

A vote to "repeal and replace" Obamacare is gross negligence posing as conservative health policy by the majority party in Congress and the president. My former colleague in the U.S. Senate, Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said of Graham-Cassidy: "I could maybe give you 10 reasons why this bill shouldn't be considered. But Republicans campaigned on this so often that you have a responsibility to carry out what you said in the campaign. That's pretty much as much of a reason as the substance of the bill." Thank God John McCain, R-Ariz., had the nerve to disagree. Again.

Minnesota has been the national leader in implementing "reform" not "replacement" of Medicare, Medicaid and the public tax subsidies for private health insurance. Health services research nationally has repeatedly told us that Minnesota health care providers provide better and more effective services to everyone — especially those with chronic illness, disability or aging into disability — than health professionals and hospital systems in any other state. Our health system works at constantly focusing us on our health and the appropriate use of medical and long-term-care services.

We've accomplished this by taxing ourselves to expand access and coverage to those who cannot afford it. Obamacare finally gets the taxpayers of America, including all those states that opposed its implementation, to help pay for value-based health and medical reform in their states. Graham-Cassidy would reverse course: rewarding the states that have refused to tax themselves to help pay for those who cannot afford this system, with money taken from Minnesota federal-income-tax payers and reducing our earned share of these funds. Any member of Minnesota's congressional delegation who supports the current effort to "repeal and replace" will not receive my vote for re-election nor does he deserve yours.

Dave Durenberger, St. Paul

The writer, a Republican senator from Minnesota from 1978 to 1995, is a former chairman of the Senate Finance Committee's subcommittee on health. He retired in 2014 as chairman of the National Institute of Health Policy at the University of St. Thomas.


The power of a simple gesture

Thank you for the commentary by Jamie Nabozny ("Giving homeless young people hope," Sept. 23), highlighting YouthLink. I have the privilege of volunteering four days a week at YouthLink, and I serve on the board of MoveFwd, an organization serving the same population in the western suburbs. Every day I am touched and astounded by the young people surrounding me, with their resilience, sense of humor and vulnerability. They don't want to be in their current situation, but they have no viable alternative. And they are missing out on what young people in "normal" circumstances take for granted.

Case in point: I was asked by staff to drive a young person to a couple of appointments. I didn't know this individual well, so when we started out I asked him to tell me a bit about himself. Eventually, he told me it had been his birthday a couple of days earlier. I asked if anyone had sung "Happy Birthday" to him. He looked down and said "no." So I started to sing to him ... and he burst into tears. Something so simple making that kind of impact. Wow. I am thankful to know these kids. And they are lucky that organizations such as YouthLink and MoveFwd are here to help them get on the right track to a positive future.

Susan Gethin, Minneapolis