In what is fast becoming a rite of fall like pumpkin spice beer (and just as tasty), NFL Flag/Anthem Protests have vomited all over the country again this year. Last year’s “Kaepernick’s Krusade” seems to have held up pretty well if you want to catch up.
This post is not about racism or injustice in America. I concede that those occur or do not occur in accordance with the liturgy from your particular belief system. My thoughts are not going to change anyone’s deeply held social beliefs.
On the other hand, wouldn’t it be something if we could work together to find another way?
The first thought is that the protests don’t work.
This is best stated by the comments from last year’s blog:
CK is within his constitutional right to protest. But alienating people who might agree with some of his concerns becomes counter productive. It’s too bad because we could do this so much better. As another commenter pointed out, doing volunteer work in minority communities and dialoguing with those in authority to continue to make changes in a positive way would actually accomplish something.
Not only are the protesters turning people against themselves, but they have no objective goal or measurable outcome. “Until something is done about social injustice” is the kind of inane cliché that has people poking fun at twenty year-old beauty queens whose goal is “world peace”. These twenty year-old NFL beef cakes are like a doofus holding people hostage without knowing his own demands. When asked, he says “Uh, I want a better world…and a unicorn.”
The second thought was that President Trump is stupid.
I shuddered when I heard what he said because I knew what a maelstrom it was going to cause. In fact, I think that about half of the time he says or tweets something. However, while main stream media would have us believe that 99.9 percent of the world is against Mr. Trump, I watched the video of his speech calling for fines or firing of the protestors get a standing ovation. A lot of people are offended by those who are disrespectful of the Flag, the Anthem and the Country. The Pres may come off like a buffoon, but his political incorrectness speaks for a lot of people.
Apparently quite a few people skipped First Amendment day in Civics class. It says:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Note the phrase: “Congress shall make no law respecting…” because it will be on the test.
While the government “shall make no law…” there is nothing that says that people cannot react to us based on what we say and how and where we say it. We are responsible for the consequences of exercising our right of free speech. People who disagree with our free speech have the right to free speech us right back. People who disagree with our free speech have the right to boycott our product. Businesses have the right to limit our free speech on the job so that it does not adversely affects business and other customers. We may have the right to stand out in the grocery store parking lot and protest the lack of justice for kale, but Safeway can prohibit us from doing it in their produce aisle.
The NFL has a conduct policy relative to the Flag and Anthem.
Here’s what the game operations manual says regarding the national anthem, according to an NFL spokesperson:
The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem.
During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition. It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.
This is perfectly legal and does not violate anyone’s right of free speech.
If my job is to sell iPhones and attend the national technology conference wearing a button saying that “Apple is the work of the devil”, I am pretty sure I will be fined, fired or consigned to a career counting staples.
The third thought is that these players and the NFL are acting like Wile E. Coyote.
Here are some fun facts about the NFL customer base.
- 77% of NFL fans are Caucasian, 15% African-American/Black and 8% Hispanic.
- 26% of NFL fans make $40k or less annually.
- 1 in 4 NFL fans has an income above $100k.
- The 55+ age demographic is the largest percentage of the NFL fans demographics at 37%. Another 34% of NFL fans are in the 35-54 age demographic.
Compare that to the demographics of the NFL players where 68% are black and 28% are white. Almost all are under 40 years old.
Some percentage of each race certainly agree that mooning the country on national television is the fastest way to get meaningful yet undefined race reform that has eluded the world since Adam and Eve. Some percentage feel that multimillionaires acting like spoiled brats running amok in the movie theater may actually set things back a couple of decades.
The NFL has had an “utterly inconsistent stance with regard to political posturing. When St. Louis Rams players engaged in “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” protests in 2014, the league did nothing; when Dallas Cowboys players wanted to wear Dallas police decals to honor the department after a massacre of officers by a black radical, the NFL turned them down flat. When Kaepernick knelt for the Anthem, and other players followed, the NFL did nothing; when some players wanted to wear cleats on September 11, 2016 honoring the fallen, the NFL threatened fines. Is it any wonder that fans feel like the NFL took a side here?”
The very first time Kaepernick acted out Goodall should have called him in to the principal’s office, given him a trigger warning and suggested he apologize and announce he would find another way to express his concerns. If CK had agreed, they could have both come out big winners.
If Kaepernick would not do the mature thing, Goodall should have announced a fine and the potential accelerated discipline for future transgressions. Some people would be upset, but fewer than now…and it probably would have been over by now.
Goodall’s statement to the media could have been something like,
“The NFL’s expertise is professional football and we strive to provide the utmost in equal opportunity for our members and sports entertainment for all of our fans. Our expertise is not politics and we do not comment on political issues. Now, F&^%-off.”
This is like raising children. You let them know the rules. You let them know the penalties for breaking the rules. You consistently administer the rules and penalties for everyone. The same applies to running a business and managing employees, except it is slightly easier to fire employees than children.
Failure to provide clear rules and consistently administer them results in confused, unruly children or employees. It doesn’t work for everyone all the time, but it does work on more people most of the time. Not doing it is consistently chaotic anarchy.
That is where the NFL is currently.
Now that the jackasses are out of the barn, I don’t know that it is salvageable. Somebody is going to be upset no matter what. But both the players and the owners have a vested interest in working something out.
At best, these protests do no good. At worst it is they are hurricane Katrinanick. As NFL attendance dives, forget about the rich owners or millionaire players who deserve the result of their actions. How about the ground crews, concession, media staff, etc.? Oddly enough, I could not find statistics on the support staff for the NFL but I surmise that most are in the income categories most likely to get hit by whatever social injustice there is.
These rich guys won’t have to give up a first class trip to Rome, a Lamborghini, or even a caramel macchiato. If they are serious about this, let’s see them agree to each adopt 25 of the people who lose their jobs in subsequent downsizing. Let’s see them spend the off season in inner cities coaching hormonal teenies on the merits of not having babies at 13 and dropping out of school. Let’s see them using their “platform” to educate about being true to your sperm and stick around to raise the next generation and break the cycle of poverty.
I don’t agree that there is rampant social injustice and racism in the U.S. today, but that is irrelevant. To the extent that instances of this exist, give me all of the facts and not just the media headline and I will stand next to you for justice.
On the other hand, if you need a nebulous feel-good generic protest, don’t pick on THE Flag, THE Anthem, THE Country that gave you the opportunity to excel and realize your potential.
FIND ANOTHER WAY.
I propose that as the tag line to save the NFL. Players and owner jointly announce that “while we have a great concern for social injustice, we recognize that the on field protests are not having the desired effect.”
“Jointly, we are going to work to FIND ANOTHER WAY.”