Thursday, May 24, 2018

The NFL cracks the whip

Sgt. Alex Rogers with Battle Flag, 83rd Pennsylvania Volunteers (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

  I'm torn. 
     On one hand, the National Football League is a business, like any other. Olive Garden would not let your server plug syndicalist revolution along with the surf and turf. Ford wouldn't let a designer push though the Agrarian Reform F-150 Pick-Up.
    So why should the NFL allow its highly paid employees to use the global stage it has put them on to register a private protest, even one concerning as important an issue as police brutality? The NFL is in a business relationship with the Department of Defense. It gets money for those patriotic displays, soldier re-unions and such, or at least did. Why bite mindless patriotism, the hand that feeds it? 
    Pro football isn't the government. Free speech ends at the stadium gate.
    That wasn't my immediate thought on hearing Wednesday's news, however.
    My immediate thought was "Fuck the NFL." Forcing players to stand for the national anthem. That or cower in the locker room. Or pay a hefty fine. After two seasons of certain players taking a knee to draw attention to police brutality, which was re-purposed by the Right, in their favorite Pretend My Foe Believes Something Stupid Gambit, into a protest against the flag. 
     Which we are all for. Or at least better be, now, or else.
    Some kind of fine, to be determined, for those who go to one knee.
    That's their solution. Stand or else.
    Don't they realize? Coerced respect means nothing. Every tinpot dictatorship forces its enslaved populations to stand rigid during whatever wheezing ditty passes as their national anthem. Doesn't make them a great country.
     The United States, which actually is a great country, or was, before it was delivered into the hands of treasonous morons by some near-majority of voters either terrified of the future or fixated on some point in the past, or both, does not need to force tribute. 
     Now I'm not so sure. I still stand for the pledge. But if someone else wants to respond by raising a middle finger of one hand and grabbing their crotch with the other, well, I know where you're coming from, brother. Those thundering loudest for respect are always the ones who least deserve it. 
     No 2nd grader is forced to say the pledge of allegiance, because school administrators know that students are a diverse group. Some students are Jehovah’s Witnesses and don't believe in saluting anyone but God. Some students are familiar enough with the checkered history of this country to not feel obligated. 
    But schools are part of government, a key distinction. It's a free country, or was. And to honor that freedom, the National Football League—some private, cash-stuffed business—is not compelling its employees to earn their pay, in part, by expressing a respect that maybe they feel, maybe they don't.
    How to tell? 
     The expressions on their faces might be a give away. Their postures. There are ways to register dissent short of falling to a knee. Will those be fined next? A sneer? A shake of the head? How much for a bored expression?
     This policy, like most misguided censures, will only highlight what it means to efface. 
     I'm not going to join those predicting doom for pro-football. I don't watch the games, I'm not their target audience. But between the concussion scandal, the Right pushed away by the protest, and the Left pushed away by this snap of the overseer's whip on the backs of protesting players, you wonder.


  1. The NFL owners caved in under the weight of the Almighty Dollar. I don't for a minute believe that doing the right thing ever entered into the conversation. I think they talked about boycott fears and lost revenue. They heard the loudest voices, did the math, and saved their gilted asses while sacrificing freedom of speech. Dictator Trump whipped up the crowd, and will continue to do so, until we've given away all of our constitutional rights. Think dominoes.

  2. Of course, the bonehead in the White House is all for this. He said today that players who don't stand probably shouldn't play or maybe even shouldn't be in this country. Yep, that's rational. I was done with the NFL because of the concussion scandals, this seals the deal.

  3. The number one rule in life is follow the money

  4. My solution to the protest problem would be to ban the National Anthem (and God Bless America too while we're at it) from sporting events. There's no meaning to the ceremony, or a negative one if anything, especially when the whole stadium starts cheering well before the last stanza, showing disrespect if not disdain for the whole thing. Is our patriotism so weak that we have to warm it up at least once a week? The anthem should be limited to government or quasi military functions such as those held by the American Legion and other Veterans' organizations. Not happening of course. Cowardice and greed need to stand up and be recognized as impediments to rational decision making.


  5. I always wondered why if the national anthem is so revered and demands so much respect at sporting events, then why is only one verse sang? Try singing all 4 verses and see how many people stand and endure.

    1. didn't Royko write a column about someone who kept singing?

    2. why, yes... yes he did.

  6. Are they truly afraid of Il Duce causing a financial fallout? Or is this just the cranky rich white men cracking down on something almost all of them have hated from the start? I think they'd have done this anyways.

  7. Despite a myriad of woes, most self-inflicted, the NFL will survive for one reason...gambling. People love betting this sport. And more widespread legalized wagering will only fuel the fire.

  8. Agrarian Reform F-150. I love it. Is that made here in Chicago at the plant in Hegewisch? I hear it has a built-in cooler that can hold four bottles of vodka. Maybe the wife and I will develop a new three-year plan to collectivize and reform our Glenview cul-de-sac. A vehicle like that would come in handy to help us increase our grain production.

  9. Agent Orange was the one who threw the gasoline on the gasoline when he yelled "Get that (SOB) off the field!" and it has only escalated from there. TV ratings are falling and these greedheads are worried that they will lose the eyeballs on the couches and the asses in the seats. If future generations of parents refuse to let their kids get their brains turned to oatmeal, the talent pool in the "minors" (high school and college) will shrink and eventually dry up, and the NFL will have problems down the road.

    People also forget that the anthem was not always played at every sporting event until during and after the divisions brought about by Vietnam. I'm old enough to recall the bad old days when the Cubs routinely played (and mostly lost) before crowds of five or six thousand on summer afternoons. I never sat in the upper deck. Neither did anyone else. It was closed off. And the anthem was only played on special occasions, such as Opening Day and patriotic holidays, by a live orchestra behind home plate. It wasn't played routinely until the early Seventies.

    I'm pretty sure the same held true at Comiskey and at MLB parks elsewhere. I have no idea what the NFL did. I've always been lukewarm or even indifferent towards the pros, and much prefer the boola-boola and the hoopla of the college game.

    For the record, all this is not new. Black spectators refused to stand at college basketball games in the early Seventies. There were racial incidents and other problems. My alma mater simply stopped playing the anthem, and took a lot of crap for that. They did the right thing. It's still the best way and the easiest way for the NFL to put an end to this mess. But those stubborn old farts, with their plantation mindsets, will never allow that to happen.

  10. Great article by on by attorney, Cheryl Ring. Very much worth a read by people on both sides of the issue.

  11. You're right on target, Neil. Protests against police brutality, have been transformed by the Right into a protest against the flag. Hence the Blue Lives Matter movement and their Thin Blue Line flags of black, white and blue, which are nothing more than a desecrated Old Glory. I cringe and see red every time I look out the window at my neighbor's flagpole. And then they want to whine and bitch about disrespect? Talk about hypocrisy.

  12. My youngest son is a retired USAF colonel. He is 55% disabled from his 26 years of active service and is in constant pain. He fought in a number of wars for the U.S., including a hellish year in Afghanistan. He is also a devote football fan and he is as patriotic as hell. However, he didn’t suffer constant moves and warfare to see football players forced to stand for the flag. It’s a GAME/. If NFL players remind us that police brutality and other inequities exist, good for them
    BI B

  13. "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel." Dr. Johnson


  14. My two high school age grandchildren walked out of school in support of the March for Our Lives and got school detentions.The March was quiet and peaceful.

  15. I despise those flags because they scream “us” vs “them”, they just aren’t smart enough to realize that they’re included in the “them”. I fear they’ll figure it out soon enough.


Comments are vetted and posted at the discretion of the proprietor.