Taking a Knee

Recently the NFL has decided that if a player takes a knee during the National Anthem they will be fined.

Let’s review while this is not the best decision the NFL could have made, it is a correct, legal, logical decision albeit not entirely popular.

I’ll explain what I mean because the mass populous has responded in expected fashion:

  • 50% of the people on the Internet have praised the NFL for doing “the right thing”
  • 50% of the people on the Internet is now boycotting the NFL in protest / outrage.
  • 99% of the people on the Internet cannot be happy just to have formed an opinion and must prove to everyone else that they are wrong
  • 100% of the people that say they will boycott the NFL are doing the best thing to protest this change
  • 75% of the people boycotting the NFL will still watch games – including the Super Bowl – this season
  • 99% of the people with season tickets will keep them for the rest of their lives
  • 100% of the people outraged that this policy violates Freedom of Speech are completely wrong

First things first: the Freedom of Speech bit. There’s the back story to the first amendment: you can say whatever you want but you have to take responsibility for what you’ve say. Ergo, you have the freedom to take a knee during the anthem on the field but you are responsible for the consequences of that action which is news fame, wild Twitter glory, and a personal fine. You are free to do this. Why are you getting a fine? Because everything about the situation you are taking that knee in is a privately owned organization that you signed a contract to be a part of. Full stop. Blows a hole in the first amendment argument larger than anything the second amendment could provide me to shoot.

A lot of people are talking about “you can’t protest at work” but you are only partially correct. You can protest at work but you will likely be reprimanded and/or fired – rather than fined – or you may be supported in your efforts. There’s no overarching law that says you cannot protest at work. It depends on the job and the boss or employee handbook. I’m reasonably certain that if you turned up for your job with something controversial there’s a policy already defined to take action. Given that the NFL is “the boss” in this scenario they are simply updating their employee handbook. You are correct in your statement that “you can’t protest on the [NFL] job” but you are applying the wrong logic.

Here’s an example you’re going to hate because it shows logically that the NFL is taking a pretty safe road for all involved for this screwed up situation. Take morality out of the equation and lets pretend that every protest staged is for a right and just cause. I mean, no one things they are dishonorable no matter how they act – apply that to groups you’d fright for. In this example, lets say Johnny Quarterback was a white supremacist and – from his point of view – he feels that he is targeted because cops constantly arrest him at his rallies: now he wants to stage a protest during the national anthem to raise awareness to this wrong that he has clearly lived through. He decides to sit during the anthem and throws up a shaka with his left hand. Totally inoffensive and sitting is questionably disrespectful, if at all. After the game reporters ask him what that was about and he proclaims that he’s protesting how cops treat him because he believes it’s unfair.

Everything that has upset you about squelching someone taking a knee to protest now supports and protects this asswaffle. This guy that belongs to an unhealthy, despicable, and unholy organization would be allowed to do this because if you protect players taking a knee, how can you not protect all protests on the field? What makes the object of a protest “OK”? Who has the power to define what is and is not a just protest? Trying to protect NFL protesters protesting on the field is a slippery slope which should really surprise no one since emotionally charged issues can cause people to react in so different ways.

What could the NFL done better?
– Stop airing the players as the anthem is played. Allows them to protest if they want to but since no one is seeing it on TV, it doesn’t impact the NFL or the networks. Ya know, the people that are paying to broadcast the game.
– Not play the national anthem before games. This is my favorite because the song is not needed and is in the grand scheme of things is a relatively new tradition in the first place. It started with World War II to encourage people to buy war bonds. Ultimately just what does a sporting event have to do with patriotism or supporting the troops? Pretty much nothing so I think this was the safest way to deflate the issue but that’s me.
– Enforce the new rule and fine the player, building a fund that then goes to organizations that are actively trying to prevent police brutality in America. True, the players could and should be donating to what they believe in directly, but it’s a way to enforce the image the NFL wants while working to make things better.
– If they were smart enough to start a charity fund, they could match the fine money dollar for dollar which would actually give the players double the impact for something they believe in while still maintaining the style they want. Would have been a nice gesture but sadly there’s no way the league or team owners are dipping into their pockets.

Now what? Express yourselves with your wallets. Don’t give the NFL a dime if you’re pissed at them. They aren’t reading Facebook or Twitter tonight to rethink their decision – they will only change this action when the bottom line moves. And yet, remember the door you’re opening if you truly want the NFL to change their position. You are creating a nationally televised platform to be used by players to speak their mind: be prepared to not agree with all stuff that comes up each day.

Are you ready for some football?

One thought on “Taking a Knee”

  1. Randy, for the most part I agree with your latest on the national anthem hullabaloo. You say without saying it that often times, and this issue is one of those times, people lose track of not only the factual rights and/or wrongs, but also in so doing they lose sight of what the actual issue is in the first place. As one who is old enough to have lived through the Vietnam era, from the standpoint of supporting the troops — NOT necessarily the war(s), but the spirit and effort of those that are in the military — any sideways slam at the national anthem is at the same time a slam at those willing to die if need be. That seems not only unpatriotic, but at the same time less than showing care or concern for those directly involved and also for those here at home who have family or friends daily putting their lives on the line. IMHO, you understand.

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