The NFL & The Anthem

By now everyone has heard of the new NFL ruling that states players cannot take a knee during the National Anthem. I’m seeing arguments on both sides of this issue. And it’s getting ugly. What I’m about to write won’t be agreed on by everyone. It’s why the issue exists. But we can all take a step in the right direction by discussing the issue rather than getting angry or resorting to name calling. Throwing anger, hatred, and racism at anger, hatred, and racism doesn’t solve the issue; it compounds it.

We’ll start with the origins. Colin Kaepernick took a knee last season to protest social injustices. Ok, I get that. But then the entire event turned into a fiasco. It became racially motivated, with people from both sides, not always intelligently, spewing forth words of hatred. More players started taking a knee. But now it was suddenly about Kaepernick. They felt he wasn’t signed because of his protest. Then it was the color of his skin. Next thing you know, it was because they didn’t like our president. If you want to protest something, stick with a single cause. For most fans of the game, myself included, the whole thing became so convoluted that we just tuned out. It’s not that we didn’t care, we just didn’t know what we were supposed to care about this week. It became a farcical comedy of errors.

So how does all of this correlate to the game of football? Spoiler alert: it doesn’t. I understand players wanting to take a stand. I respect that. But the gridiron is your workplace; your office. I can’t go in to work and take a knee at a meeting because I don’t like how some random guy in Louisiana was treated. I’d get walked out in a heartbeat. And deservedly so. It’s disrespectful, unprofessional, and disruptive. Use that energy to make a change in society. Be a positive influence in someone’s life. Don’t stir the pot and then expect people to bow to your whims.

As far as Kaepernick goes, if he’d lower his salary expectations, he’d be signed by now. He’s a great athlete. But no team is going to give him the $12M per year he’s asking when he went 1-10 as a starter the last year he played. It just won’t happen. Not because of the protests, not because of the color of his skin. Because of his record. It seems people want to ignore that. It doesn’t sell clicks.

Players have the option to remain in the locker room during the anthem. That’s fine, let them. I’ve even seen people say that the anthem should be done away with because lyrical composer Francis Scott Key owned slaves. Ok, a lot of people did then. We’ve gotten past that with the Emancipation Proclamation. No one alive today has been adversely affected by slavery. It’s history, we need to move on. I’m part Cherokee, you don’t see me crying about the Trail of Tears.

Does racism still exist? Of course it does. So how do we fix it? I doubt we ever will. But we can all do our part by simply rising above it and working towards positive change. It won’t get fixed overnight; probably not in our lifetime. But let’s leave a legacy that we can be proud of.

Come this fall, I want to turn on the games and see football. I don’t want politics or social issues. I follow enough of those ‘experts’ on Twitter. But let your voice be heard. Just make sure it’s a calm, reasonable voice. No one wants to listen to an angry voice.

One final note; if you’re complaining about players not standing during the anthem while you sit on your couch or barstool, then maybe you should take a step back and attempt to grasp the irony. When this started, I was guilty of that. But now, if I hear the anthem, I stand. With my hat off. Not to stir the pot, but out of respect for those who have fought to give me that right. If you want to sit, that’s fine. That’s your choice. But neither one of us can expect everyone around us to do the same. Live your life, let others live theirs.

In closing, you don’t have to agree with me, or anyone. But discuss it. Don’t yell, scream, or call anyone names. It’s counter productive.

So, how many more days until kickoff?

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