A Few Random Thoughts about the NFL

As most of you know, the NFL this weekend was full of players protesting the National Anthem. I have been a big-time football fan for most of my life. For reasons not having to do with the issues surrounding the recent protests, I have reduced my watching of the NFL. I am not boycotting it. My wife is a big-time Dallas Cowboys fan, and so the TV will have the Cowboys on when they play. But I really do not feel the passion for the game I once did.

Since the controversy surrounding the NFL and the protests stirred a great deal of conversation, I was unable to escape thinking about it. What follows is a series of random thoughts I have about this situation. They go together in harmony in my head although I am not sure they will seem to be coherent to the general public.
1) Of course the NFL players have the right to protest. I do not think anyone has seriously challenged their right to do so. But plenty of individuals have been quick to remind us of this right. That right has not ever been in dispute. However…

2) this protest is no longer about the black community. Some have emphasized the racial component of this conflict. That seemed more relevant when it was just Kaperernick talking about BLM issues. The protests this past weekend were more in response to President Trump’s amateurish insertion into this controversy. In reality these protests are not for the promotion of some great social change. Many of the athletes simply do not like being told what to do. Others probably want to stick their finger in Trump’s eyes. A few are down for the BLM causes, but I suspect that they are far fewer than what is let on by the press. Regardless of the true motivation of most sports stars, we should remember that…

3) the players are not free of the consequences of their protest. A few weeks ago I made it pretty clear that I was apathetic about Kaperernick not being in the NFL. I have been watching conservative Christians being fired from their job for not supporting same-sex marriage. We have been conditioned by progressives to accept that we can be fired for our politics. I could have been convinced to see it as unfair for NFL players to be cut due to their protests, but that ship has sailed. If NFL owners decide to start cutting players who protest, moderates like me will not care. Only political progressives and radicals will make a big stink about it. In fact…
4) we should not forget that fans have a right to boycott the games as well. I have heard so many people argue that players have a right to protest that they seem to forget that football fans can simply not support the NFL anymore. Football fans have rights as well. Professional sports is basically an entertainment business that is sustained by the goodwill of those who love the games. So when we focus on who has a right to do what let’s not forget those who pay for the games. Nevertheless…

5) boycotts of the NFL will not work unless they also target the sponsors. Losing a few fans from the games or from the network will not hurt the NFL. Heck, even if people stay away in droves there will not be an immediate effect. But what will catch the attention of the NFL is if their sponsors start to get nervous. So far those sponsors have stayed silent. But if those who want to teach the NFL a lesson really want to hurt them, then going after the sponsors is the way to go. Progressive and conservative boycotts are quite different. Progressives have learned to go after sponsors while conservatives generally do not do that. I believe it is why corporations fear progressive boycotts more than conservative boycotts. It remains to be seen if this is the boycott where the conservatives target the sponsors as well as the entity they desire to boycott. But regardless of whether conservatives learn this lesson…

6) the NFL has bigger problems beyond this current controversy. The most notable is the way those like I am abandoning it because of our kids. You see I am almost to the place where I will forbid my two young boys from playing the game. Almost but not quite there yet. But when the reports keep coming out about the dangers of football on the brain development of young men, can I allow my boys, who I dearly love, to play that game? It is a problem I may never have to deal with if they get interested in basketball, and so right now I plan on focusing on that avenue with the hope that they do not become interested in playing football. Of course in doing so, I may set them up to never love the game the way I once did, and if enough of us are doing that, then the fan base of the NFL will shrink anyway.

Bottom line is that today’s controversy may be the final straw that sends the sport into a downspin from which it never fully recovers. That downspin may be inevitable, or it may be that this controversy is the catalyst towards that downspin. Or perhaps this is just another of a series of problems that the NFL eventually works through and continues its success. We probably will never know what the full consequences of this controversy will be. But I will keep observing it from afar and try to consider the ramifications of it from a wider sociological perspective.

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  • R F Busby

    “Fired for their politics.” Is that any worse than the millions of homosexuals who have been denied employment, fired, abused and murdered in the name of religion over the years?

    A central tenet of the sin of capitalism is that a business owner or any other entity may arbitrarily choose the persons they hire based upon church membership, marital status, theological opinions, the list of arbitrary conditions is endless.

    And in spite of the “I’m a victim, poor me” tenor of this piece of editorial detritus, churches have even carved out exemptions for most of the fair employment practices that every other person and entity must abide. Exemptions, ironically, put into law with the leadership of the Bill Clinton administraation.

    And, do you really believe that any faith-professing person would be fired in this country and not run to the nearest right-wing ambulance chaser (Jay Seculo comes immediately to mind) and not file (and win) a lawsuit?

    • George Yancey

      Need to get off the liberal websites every now and again. Brandon Eich and the Benham brothers for a start lost their jobs and were not compensated. And they did not do a protest at their place of work. This is not poor meism. This is just I do not care about NFL players because I want the rules applied across the board.