NFL: They did it to themselves

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.

20 thoughts on “NFL: They did it to themselves

  1. Good grief PT, I don’t even know where to begin. I know that I can’t recall a time when hearing the national anthem didn’t bring tears to my eyes. I also know that I resent the way entities like the NFL use the national anthem to paint themselves as being “as American as apple pie.” Frankly, the whole thing makes me a little queasy…

    1. It’s very unsettling, even frightening, to see how our society is fragmenting and how things as important and, I thought, inviolate, as our flag and national anthem, are being disrespected to advance personal political agendas. What happens when nothing is sacred anymore?

        1. Maybe it’s been going on for a long time and only since retirement have I had time to really think about it. But honestly there are days when I think our society is circling the drain. Certainly our political system is through the drain and well on its way to the sewer.

          1. I wouldn’t trust that clown to walk me across the street, much less deal with a major problem. Of course, his idea of a major problem would be, say, getting only one scoop of ice cream instead of two.

  2. The thing that pinhead-Trump will never grasp is that because of our troops, we are (still) free to protest, support, kneel, stand, do jumping jacks, etc. at any time. It is our right supported by the Constitution.

    Also, what goes through my head is that the act of kneeling is typically akin to an act of reverence, worship or submission. So if they kneel during the National Anthem, are they not actually worshiping it?

    1. I actually tried to imagine what would cause me to kneel like that Michelle, and what I came up with is very close to what you said. I’d be kneeling in reverence for the supposed lives of freedom and equality that the flag and anthem purports that we all have here.

    2. I seriously doubt that is their intention. And they’ve said as much.

      Yes, we have freedom of speech, but one still doesn’t shout “fire!” in a crowded theater. Protesters on the street need a parade permit. Silent picketers on the sidewalks aren’t allowed to block public access. There are laws against porn. And violence. And destruction of property. Our freedom of speech has many limits and restrictions. If football players want to demonstrate at their games, they have the right. Whether or not it’s a wise thing to do is something else again.

  3. It can only get worse in the US I believe; until trump is deposed it’s a downhill slide for the American people.

    I must admit that the Australian National Anthem does absolutely nothing for me. It’s a mish mash of meaningless words set to the music of “God Bless The Prince of Wales” would you believe.

    I must also admit standing for the American another and feeling a sense of pride when in New York at the Lincoln Centre for the 4th of July concert in 2008. It’s a stirring anthem which surely must instill pride in the American people. I find it hard to believe that they are denigrating it and what it stands for.

    There are undoubtedly those that are the sheep, following the leader having no idea why they are protesting which is in one sense pitiable.

    Will the US ever recover their position and regain the respect and admiration; grudgingly given by many nations; that they once had?

    Frankly and personally I don’t think they can, and I grieve for my grandchildren, who are to grow in a world, that appears to this old man at least, to be tearing itself apart and into shreds with not one nation able/capable to step up to the plate to bring order from the chaos.

    There will, in all probability, be no plate to step up to, and the consequences are too horrific to think about.

  4. Patriotism, for most people, is not something to be reexamined but rather something visceral. Black athletes are right to deplore inequality and abuse by a small minority of police but they are dead wrong in acting unpatriotic to get attention on the issue. Instead, they reap disgust and enhance the cultural divide. Having Trump as a president who panders to his bigoted base completes the perfect storm. If this were the plot of a movie a year ago, it would be rejected as too fantastical.

    1. I figure when the fans stop coming to the games and stop watching on TV, and the sponsors start dropping their support of players and networks, the protests will likely end. You can’t expect support from those whose patiotism you deride.

... and that's my two cents