Once upon a time sports were a thing we used to escape from the messy world of politics, and controversy, but those days are long gone.
Now, we have talking heads fixated on what players aren’t standing during the national anthem, and which teams won’t be making their customary visits to the White House. Athletes are using their platform to deliver a message, and we the fans have to decide whether or not we wish to keep tuning in.
While swaths of folks lend their support to athletes “taking a knee,” there are many people who see it as disrespecting our nation. Such as Mike Rowe.
There’s a point to be made that many people are forgetting. We, the viewers, don’t have to watch!
That’s the point Mike Rowe made in his recent post when asked “what do you make of Trump’s comments about those who refuse to stand during the national anthem?”.
Mike answered with this…
“In democracies, we the people get the government we deserve. We also get the celebrities we deserve, the artists we deserve, and the athletes we deserve. Because ultimately, we the people get to decide who and what gets our attention, and who and what does not.
Right now, The NFL, the players who choose to kneel, the networks who choose to broadcast their protest, the advertisers who sponsor the games, and the President of the United States, are all eager for our attention. And they are all using football to get it. That’s all well and good, right up to the point where it isn’t. In my view, this controversy really isn’t about patriotism, social justice, racial inequality, or free speech. It’s not even about the flag or the national anthem. It’s really only about one thing – what we will tolerate, and what we won’t.
I was disappointed last night, to hear President Trump encourage owners to fire players who refuse to stand for the anthem. Not because I dispute the owners right to do so, and not because I would grieve the dismissal of anyone who chooses to disrespect our flag. I was disappointed because the President’s comments presuppose that the owners are in charge of the game. They’re not. We are. We decide what to watch, and that decision – far more than any other consideration – will determine the what the owners choose to do. And that in turn will affect what the players choose to do.
As the leader of the country, the President had an opportunity to remind us that The NFL, the networks who broadcast their games, and all of the players – standers and kneelers alike – work for us. He might have also used the occasion to remind us that he too, serves at our pleasure.
I felt a similar bemusement when the Commissioner issued his response, followed by the President of the Player’s Union. Their comments – along with the comments of many of the players themselves – were perfectly reasonable, perfectly understandable, and perfectly in keeping with their first amendment rights. But they were also perfectly arrogant. Because they too, presuppose that millions of fans will continue to watch them play a game – no matter what.
Perhaps they’re right. Historically, football fans have shown a collective willingness to ignore and enable all sorts of dubious behavior. The players have agents and unions, the owners have money and power, and the fans are always caught in the middle. The resulting strikes and the constant uprooting of teams from broken-hearted towns proves beyond all question the overall lack of regard for fans in general.
But here’s the thing, Rob. The fans of professional football are not powerless – we’re just not yet offended enough to turn the channel. Should that ever change in a meaningful way – if for instance, a percentage of football fans relative to those players who chose to kneel during today’s games, chose to watch something else next Sunday – I can assure you…the matter would be resolved by Monday.
PS. If you’d like to spend a few minutes with some actual heroes – combat veterans who made sure today’s athletes have the right to kneel for our flag, or honor it – might I suggest the first episode of Returning the Favor? Twenty-five million people have already approved of this segment, and my hope, is that you will, too.”
So, what happens next?
Will people keep pretending to be upset about players kneeling, while keeping the TV on the same channel?
Or will people let their “voices” be heard by tuning out, and forcing the NFL to make a change?
Ultimately, the power is in the hands of the people, they just have to click the remote.
SHARE this if you stand with Mike Rowe and support our troops!