The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Pro Football / The NFL’s National Anthem Problem: A (not so) Radical Solution

The NFL’s National Anthem Problem: A (not so) Radical Solution

A Radical Solution

So NFL officials have what they see as a problem with players seeking to make a political statement during the pregame rendition of the National Anthem. So here’s an easy and no-so radical solution: How about NFL teams stay in the locker room until after the anthem…?

Politics and football do not mix. I don’t know about you, but I watch sports to not have to think about all the issues going on in the world. Recently, politics has dominated the sports pages with stories of Colin Kaepernick, Marshawn Lynch or whoever has decided to interject politics into football.

The players’ point of view

First off, let me state I do not know what it is like to be black and I am not even going to try. In addition, I have no white guilt. I just don’t. I am sorry, but my ancestors did not own slaves and they did not fight for the South in the Civil War, so I have nothing to feel bad about.

That said, I am not going to judge black players who want to stand up against prejudice. It also makes me sick to see cops abuse their power, no matter who it is against, and I admit it does seem to happen an awful lot to people of color. I believe that the soldiers who fought for our country fought for an ideal of freedom and that we have the right to do whatever we want to do as long as we don’t hurt anyone else.

If you grew up in the inner city, I do *not* know where you are coming from, but I will defend your right to stand up and be heard. Does that mean I agree with you? Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. My problem with players is that, while debating social issues affecting society, they don’t deal with the injustices perpetrated against NFL players by the league on a daily basis. The NFL’s relations with retired players have been appalling, especially when it comes to those dealing with CTE.

The players need to stand up for the players that came before, who made it possible for them to play the game of football and to be compensated very well. But so far, that has not happened.

Players that do not stand for the National Anthem have that right in this free society to choose to do what they want. Now people will argue that a given NFL club can control what its employees, i.e. the players, do. But so far the NFL and its teams have not officially mandated that anybody stand, so I think that point is invalid unless a team or the league mandates that players stand.

The NFL’s point of view

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell himself has said that he understands the players refusing to stand and why they are doing so. If that’s the case, why do people have a problem with it? The NFL itself has disrespected our country and military, especially when it came out a few years ago that the Department of Defense had paid 14 different NFL teams a total of $5.4 million over the last four years in exchange for patriotic displays at games. Where is the outrage over that?

I know there was outrage over these shameless displays when the story broke, but the controversy qucikly subsided. Why is it different when black NFL players take a knee during the National Anthem? What is truly the worse offense? Taking a knee or taking over $5 million to “honor” the military? Putting together the NFL’s disrespecting the country and Goodell’s empathy for the players’ point of view adds up to the NFL as a whole being fine with the protests.

National Anthem before players come out?

At its worst, the National Anthem is used as both an ideological cudgel and a marketing ploy. It’s a cheap, showy way for sports franchises to make themselves as unassailable as the song itself. You trot out some troops (see above about these troops paying for this “honor”), you play the anthem, and you are an honorable all-American franchise with honorable all-American fans doing honorable all-American things, and anyone who dares question you is dishonorable by comparison. Who could argue with a team saluting the American troops?

Ninety seconds isn’t nearly enough time to prove whether a citizen truly cares about his or her country, nor is it enough time for citizens to properly appreciate a returning veteran who has fought for his country – and who needs more support than a round of courtesy applause. These veterans need better healthcare and better treatment all-around; a 90-second tribute is not nearly enough.

Get this (and this is the most intriguing part of this whole situation): Prior to 2009, players being on the field for the National Anthem wasn’t even standard practice. Yes, for special games like the Super Bow, players were on-field for the anthem, but only on special occasions. Now it was left up to teams as to whether they would be on the field for the anthem or not, and nobody mage a big fuss if the team choose to stay in the locker room, lets just say times have changed.

Also let me ask you this and be truthful: if you have the game on at home and performance of the anthem is shown, do you stand in your own living room? If you don’t stand, does that mean you are dishonoring America and our military?

All these protests before the game go away if players are in the locker room while the anthem is being played. The best part of this would be removing politics from football, which I think would be a great thing to do. I am reminded of all the stupid crap the crooks (Democrats and Republicans alike) are pulling the other six days of the week. Please leave Sunday to God and football and leave the crap until during the week.

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