I was going to write something about the NFL today, but quite honestly the four videos below did a better job than I ever could.
First up, Dallas sports anchor Dale Hansen:
<iframe width=”560” height=”315” src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/BNJUsE7pEs4?rel=0” frameborder=”0” allowfullscreen></iframe>
Then Bob Costas on patriotism:
<iframe width=”560” height=”315” src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/OlIeFVVXRpc?rel=0” frameborder=”0” allowfullscreen></iframe>
I’ve been to enough NFL games to experience the “bumper sticker patriotism” and jingoism the NFL plays up with the military (and tax payer money) before and during games. It is so thick at times, it comes off as borderline propaganda. It’s no wonder NFL fans have come to conflate the flag with the military.
I love that Costas acknowledges “Patriotism comes in many forms.” This includes peacefully (and quite honestly kneeling is respectful) protesting inequality and injustice within our country. To purposefully ignore those injustices is unpatriotic in my mind and that’s what makes teachers and social workers (and anyone selflessly working to serve others and improve our country) American patriots as well.
Next up, Nick Wright on the absurdity of the media referring to these acts as “protesting the anthem” versus having the real, difficult conversation:
Here’s a quote from the article he referenced re: Kap’s decision to kneel after consulting with a Green Beret.
After hours of careful consideration, and even a visit from Nate Boyer, a retired Green Beret and former N.F.L. player, we came to the conclusion that we should kneel, rather than sit, the next day during the anthem as a peaceful protest. We chose to kneel because it’s a respectful gesture. I remember thinking our posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy. It baffles me that our protest is still being misconstrued as disrespectful to the country, flag and military personnel. We chose it because it’s exactly the opposite. It has always been my understanding that the brave men and women who fought and died for our country did so to ensure that we could live in a fair and free society, which includes the right to speak out in protest.
And finally, Shannon Sharpe with an [honest look at the true motivation of NFL owners:
In capitalism, money speaks loudest to the holders of capital. While I’m glad the NFL stood up to Trump, I can’t help but believe it’s strictly a marketing ploy — even if the marketing is mainly directed at NFL players.
There is absolutely no way NFL owners fire any player, though what they are doing to Kap is essentially the same thing. The protests we saw this past weekend, combined with not hiring Kap, helps them speak from both sides of their mouth. Not hiring Kap sends a message to a vocal subset of their fans, while the act of firing would spark mass outrage among players — their product. The NFL owners had to put out that Trump-induced dumpster fire as quickly as possible.
As far as protesting the NFL goes, all I can say is go for it. There are many reasons the NFL should be penalized — whether it’s Kap’s unemployment, or CTE and the concussion scandals, or taxpayer-funded stadiums, or any of the seemingly many player scandals. The NFL certainly deserves some retribution.
However, if you are protesting the right to peacefully protest, I can’t find any love or support for you. Framing the players as protesting or disrespecting the troops, flag, or sacrifices made for this country is dishonest at best and racist at worst. You will be on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of morality and decency, and without a doubt not living up to what you claim this country and patriotism stands for…
I wish more people would just listen when people share their struggles or trauma or problems or the injustices they face day in and day out. Instead, we blame the victim or don’t believe them or try to solve the problem through the lens of our own life experiences. What we should do is acknowledge we hear them, show empathy, try to learn more, and then go do the work to make it better. Listen more, read books on the subject, do research, ask questions, volunteer, speak up and show support. That’s how you start to fix systemic problems.