Feel the Kneel?

Thus far, I have largely remained quiet about the NFL players — and now NBA players — kneeling during the National Anthem. The arguments have been many… for and against. They have a right to protest, they shouldn’t protest during the anthem, they are protesting respectfully and peacefully, they are disrespecting soldiers, veterans, police officers, etc. Joshua Perry, a linebacker for the Colts, recently penned an article stating his position. I believe his arguments are both valid, and flawed.

Honestly, like most things, the answer is likely somewhere in the middle. Sadly, what you believe may be ‘slanted’ by what you choose to read. If you read the National Review, for example, you’ll find that police violence against black people is rare and the media narrative is damaging. If you read US News, you’ll learn that black males are 3 times more likely to be killed by police (based on a recent study out of Drexel University). Sadly, most people do not take time to understand and absorb all elements and statistics. Along the lines of “you are what you eat”, you tend to believe most strongly what comes from the sources you trust and frequent.

Generally speaking, the players are right… and they are wrong. They are protesting, which is within their right. They are protesting while on the JOB, which may NOT be right. Consider – are you allowed to protest at your job? Just because you have a national stage, does that give you the right to exercise that for your cause? I don’t believe most players who are protesting are necessarily trying to disrespect soldiers, veterans, or the flag itself. But it’s a narrative that has emerged. Certainly, NFL owners do not care for the protesting, because it distracts from their product — which is “selling” fun, good times, competition, etc.

And there’s the rub. My personal experience is that I watch and attend NFL games to ESCAPE the daily frustrations. It’s a good way to get away and just have some fun… a way to kind of “forget about the world” for a minute and just enjoy watching a game I love. I’m not there to argue or debate about concussions, police violence, etc. The more that stuff creeps into the experience, the less ‘entertained’ I am. Is that right or wrong? Again, it likely depends on your perspective. By no means am I trying to ignore the cause — I just simply don’t want to think about it at that moment. If a player like Colin Kaepernick wants to leverage his popularity and position to speak out while he’s off the field and outside the stadium, then so be it. Ironically, many people chastised Tim Tebow for taking a knee in prayer after scoring a touchdown. Many of these same people support Kaepernick. Conversely, many of those who supported Tebow are intensely angry at Kaepernick. Perhaps the difference was that Tebow took a knee in celebration, not consternation. He wasn’t trying to change anyone’s mind or influence anyone.

At the end of the day, I am well aware of everyone’s opinions. But that’s not why I consume the NFL product. If something tastes bad, you spit it out. Sadly, if players and the NFL are not careful, some will do the same with their product. For now, I’m not willing to give up my football just because some folks choose to exercise their position and influence others, rightly or wrongly. I’ll just tune out for the anthem.

Play on, players.