President Barack Obama has defended San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who refused to stand for the national anthem.
He said Colin Kaepernick was exercising his constitutional right to make a point.
Speaking in China at the G20 meeting, Barack Obama said the NFL player had raised legitimate issues.
Colin Kaepernick stirred controversy when he sat during the national anthem to protest against racial injustice.
Some players have followed his example and sat or kneeled through the anthem.
Asked about the issue during a news conference at the G20 in Hangzhou, Barack Obama said it was tough for those in the military to understand why Colin Kaepernick might snub the national anthem.
However, President Obama said he did not doubt his sincerity to raise issues: “If nothing else, what he’s done is he’s generated more conversation around some topics that need to be talked about.”
The president added he would rather have young people engaged in the argument in a democratic process than “people who are just sitting on the sidelines and not paying attention at all”.
A week after staying seated during The Star-Spangled Banner, Colin Kaepernick quarterback kneeled during the anthem before a match on September 1.
Team-mate Eric Reid also kneeled, but they were booed by some in the crowd.
On September 4, US women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe knelt during the national anthem before the Seattle Reign’s game against the Chicago Red Stars in what she said was “a little nod”‘ to Colin Kaepernick.
Colin Kaepernick has said he will continue to sit out the national anthem until he sees improvements in US race relations.