KNEELING ON THE SIDELINES
I can stay silent no longer. This issue is controversial so I wade in with grave trepidation, lest I offend my readers.
There is a lot of rhetoric out there about those who are kneel during our National Anthem are not doing so out of disrespect for our country, our constitution or our flag. What nonsense. When Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem, he announced his reason. He could no longer support a nation or its flag where black citizens were reportedly treated so unfairly. This is paraphrased from memory, not a quote. If my memory serves me, he absolutely condemned the nation and the flag.
There is a God given right to free speech, against which the Congress of the United States shall make no laws to prohibit. It shall not be infringed. There is, however, no guarantee of free speech in the workplace. Workers represent the companies for whom they work. The NFL actually does have a rule regarding this. Players will stand during the National Anthem and hold their helmets in their left hand and will remain silent. The notion that owners cannot control what their players do or say is more nonsense. Players are routinely fined for breaking team or league rules of conduct, both on and off the field.
The central complaint, as I understand it, is that African Americans are treated unfairly by the police. As a white man, I know I’m not allowed to speak about this. It is politically incorrect. I’ve hated political correctness since the first time I heard the term. It is an absolute violation of free speech, a tool of the liberal left to silence opposing views. I used to be a proud liberal but no more. I strongly favor open and honest debate, free of vilification of opposing views.
I mean, what are police supposed to do? If an African American commits a crime, are police to look the other way? If they do pursue an African American suspected of committing a crime and if that African American suspect resists arrest, are they to back off and wait for said suspect to calm down and call for a crisis intervention counselor? COME ON!
I have many African American friends. We discuss these issues frequently and openly. Most agree with two things. First, African American neighborhoods have higher crime rates than other communities. Second, many in African American communities tolerate crime, sometimes holding it up as being cool or otherwise appropriate. Boy, I’m out on a limb here. This is politically incorrect to the max. Truth often is.
Whenever police target any citizen because of the color of their skin, it is totally unacceptable. Such officers are usually weeded out. If police brutality occurs, these officers are always weeded out and usually prosecuted. To hold the unacceptable behavior of the few against the many good and honest police officers, many of them African American, is ridiculous and non-productive.
Here’s the bottom line. Sports, especially professional sports, are played for the benefit of the fans. Without the fans, there are no paydays, there are no stadiums, there are no television contracts, and there is no subsidiary merchandising. The National Anthem is traditionally sung at the opening of all sporting events as a show of national unity, no matter who might win the game. Fans and players stand as a sign of respect for our nation, our constitution, our fallen heroes and our flag. A very high percentage of fans love this country and all it stands for. If players obey NFL rules and stand for the National Anthem, no fans that I know of are offended. When players openly demonstrate their disaffection for the country, many fans are deeply offended. Many have already turned off the NFL. These players, no matter the sincerity of their convictions, are killing the goose that has given all of them their golden eggs. They are killing the future of the sport they love. Fans don’t pay big bucks to go to football games and pick sides in a political debate. They go to games or watch them on television to escape the pressures of work, be with others who enjoy the game and escape all things political.
Come on, NFL. Show your fans a little appreciation before you lose them. Enforce your own rules. Encourage ways for players to engage in their non-professional passions OFF THE FIELD. While I welcome vigorous debate, it should not be at the expense of a game I love.