The trouble is that image is everything. No, that’s not right. Perception of the image is everything. How things are, depend on how you see the bigger picture. Put an image of President Trump on the internet and you will get heartfelt comments from both sides of the aisle. Everybody has an opinion, just ask them.
Which leads to the current dilemma the NFL finds itself in. In case you didn’t know, last year, one player, Colin Kaepernick, decided to take a knee to protest how he thought African-Americans have and are being treated. In the wave of what seems an unordinary amount of unprovoked shootings by police on unarmed young black men, he said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
That was over a year ago, starting in the 2016 NFL preseason. During the regular season, there was an uprise in participation by players. Some sat during the process, some knelt.
Fast forward to this season. The protests continue, which led President Trump to tweet out how kneeling during the anthem is disrespectful to America, and that the players should lose their jobs. NFL owners and players took umbrage with this and just this past weekend, all parties linked arms and/or knelt during the anthem. There were a few exceptions, but not many. Some teams decided to stay in their locker room.
Which leads to the news that there was a lot booing by fans in attendance during pregame kneeling across the country. Not good for the NFL.
This caused stock in the networks to fall. Direct TV started offering people their money back to those who have bought the NFL package if requested. People burning seasons tickets. Not good.
The American people are telling professional sports what they think about their protests. Viewership numbers are how the advertisers measure their bottom line with advertising on the networks. Which is where the trouble lives. And this is the only way things will change. Lower people watching, lower advertising revenue, lower money for the teams. Right now, the owners are presenting a front of supporting their players, except Jerry Jones, who flat out ordered his employees to stand during the anthem.
Is there a problem with protesting this issue? No, not at all.
Is this the appropriate way and place to protest? No, not at all.
Why? The main reason people in America are upset that these athletes not standing for the anthem is the disconnect between what the players think the flag stands for and what the average citizen thinks. For many people, like myself, who served in the military, the flag is a representation of what America stands for. For freedom. For a better way of life. If you think there is a better country in the world, you are wrong. America is the land of the free and the home of the brave. If you don’t think so, live for a year in another country and tell me what you think. I’ve traveled a little. Europe, Australia, Mexico are a few places I”ve visited. There are many outstanding qualities about these places. But they don’t have what we have. They just don’t.
Another reason America is having trouble with these protests is the fact that not just in football but in most professional athletics, there is not a week that goes by where there isn’t a news update naming a player who was arrested for domestic violence. Which leads me to the elephant in the room. Race. The players kneeling are predominately black and the players being arrested are black also. White America looks at this and wonders why this isn’t addressed. And while we’re on the subject, why isn’t the same amount of attention being given to black on black crime? For the first six months of this year, there were 27 people shot by police in the entire country. Not all were black, but for the sake of argument, let’s say they were. Over labor day, the city of Chicago passed 500 homicides for the year. Are they all black on black crimes? No. Are the majority of them? Yes. Many reasons are needed to explain why it is this way, but that is not the issue I’m discussing today. The severe distortion of attention given police shootings versus this kind of crimes is. And remember, that is just Chicago.
Finally, there is the issue of the money the players make and the protest. Colin Kaepernick made 39.4 million dollars between 2014 and 2016 from his latest contract with the San Fransisco 49ers. And here is, protesting that people of his race are not treated fairly. Now, I know he is protesting the treatment of the African-American male as a whole. I get it. However, in the public eye, they see a multi, multi-millionaire complaining he’s being treated unfairly. Is that fair? No. Is it reality? Yes.
With the perception of the issue being seen as the truth, these issues have the NFL seeing trouble for the first time in a long time. We’ve seen lower viewership in the NFL, just last year as a matter of fact. But that was without the president of the United States being in the middle of it. Now, that he is, the public is fine with showing the players the reality of their feelings. I think that unless the players back off, there will be a continuance of the fans getting angrier and angrier. This will lead to problems with advertising, which is used to pay the NFL for the right to advertise during games. When that happens, there will be a reckoning.