Detroit Lions fans, and NFL fans around the country are divided by the current protest movement and remarks made by the President.
Let’s start with the elephant in the room, shall we? The NFL season has barely gotten under way. It seems like a lot of the fun has been taken out of it already, though. Not that real life has to be fun all of the time. Indeed, sometimes it is messy. In years past this might’ve been due to the Detroit Lions record.
No, this year the NFL and it’s member franchises have engaged in a large scale protest. The President of the United States’ comments on players kneeling during the National Anthem.
A number of current players were already using the pregame occasion to draw attention to social issues. Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback, has been at the center of this controversy for over a year now. Kaepernick started kneeling in protest last year, but also committed more contentious acts, too.
For instance, he wore socks that depicted police officers as pigs; he distributed a social media post that equated modern police to fugitive slave patrolmen from the 1850’s. “You can’t ignore your history, always remember who they are”, Kaepernick tweeted.
The players have stated that racial inequality and police brutality are issues they hope to have addressed as a result of their combined actions.
After President Trump remarked that protesters should be fired, he later elaborated about his feelings. At a rally in Alabama, the President further described the Anthem kneelers as, “sons of b***hes.” This set off a gale storm of comments and reactions from every side of the discussion.
Where we are
President Trump continues to stand behind his comments, and the NFL owners have seemed to get behind their players. Fan reactions have been similarly divided. My degree isn’t in political science, but this sure has similar vitriol to the reactions that came right after the last presidential election.
Everyone is trying to win the discussion by badmouthing the other side. So far, it seems like the NFL is taking the worst beating. The NFL is in an almost no-win situation, stuck between paying customers and their labor pool. They chose their players.
Many fans have sworn to quit watching the NFL, to contact the corporate sponsors, and have protested the protests by burning their team apparel. I know quite a few people who are boycotting the NFL until it apologizes for disrespecting the flag, and the people who sacrificed to keep it a symbol of freedom.
Some military veterans have also stated that they have no problem with the form of protests, that it is a fundamental right that they risked their lives to protect. Other veterans have been critical of the kneeling, feeling that it is a sacred time to remember the men and women who died in service to their country.
Divide and conquer
I understand the issues being protested by the demonstrators, but I would not kneel during our National Anthem. That is my choice. That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t sit down and discuss mistrust and brutality between poor citizens and police, though. These kinds of debates often only serve to divide people along partisan and skin color lines.
Sometimes, it does seem like you can only hear the loudest, most extreme opinions, though.
Sports are supposed to bring people together from all walks of life. We are supposed to be able to have a civil discourse about issues in society. Right now, that is hard to imagine.
Also, it’s bad for the sport. Teams will lose millions.
This weekend, the Lions face off against our Scandinavian neighbors, the Minnesota Vikings. Perhaps, in a few weeks we can get back to football, where we only divide people based upon the jersey they wear on Sundays.