This time that deflated football is not Tom Brady’s fault. It’s the fault of many National Football League players. It all started in 2016, when San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick remained seated during the playing of the national anthem. He said he was protesting discrimination against people of color and supporting Black Lives Matter. A controversy ensued about whether he should have done so and whether he was being unpatriotic or was exercising his First Amendment right to free speech.
Before long, a few other players began following his lead, as well as several singers who knelt while singing the national anthem. The result has been that while the debate continues, Kaepernick is out of a job. He’s a free agent and no team wants to hire him.
Then last week at a rally President Trump chastised demonstrating NFL players for being unpatriotic, called them “sons of bitches” (his words, not mine), and demanded the NFL fire or suspend them. As a result, Sunday a lot of NFL players (some 200, according to one report) protested Trump’s comments by kneeling, locking arms, or not appearing on the field at all during the national anthem.
So that’s where we are. When an NFL player takes a knee or otherwise fails to stand respectfully during the playing of the national anthem, we will have no idea whether they are protesting the treatment of blacks, protesting Trump’s comments, showing unity with teammates, or doing something else entirely (listening to music? texting? sleeping?). They’ve confused the issue, diluted and destroyed their own demonstrations. Meantime disgusted fans are turning away by the thousands, not attending NFL games, turning off ESPN, and generally protesting the mixing of politics into their sports entertainment.
ESPN and the NFL are bleeding both fans and sponsors. As I think they should. They’ve turned our sports entertainment into a political circus. It’s gotten so bad that one diehard football fan, one of my son’s friends, approached him recently and said he was through with American football and would my son please teach him about English football (soccer). My son’s a huge Arsenal fan and is delighted to oblige.
But the saddest effect I’ve seen so far … two teams of 8-year-old football players, all kneeling during the national anthem. They are, of course, emulating their sports heroes. Do they even understand the issues? Is this what we want to teach our children? I don’t care that their coaches and parents approved. Children should be learning to stand at attention and respect the flag and the national anthem. There will be plenty of time to protest (and more appropriate times and places) when they are old enough to understand the issues for themselves.
I guarantee you that as long as any child is living under my roof, on my dime, he or she will show proper respect for the flag, anthem, and country.
If that makes me an old-fashioned, close-minded, racist fuddy-duddy, so be it.