Matt’s Traditional American Values: On the national anthem protests


Matt's Traditional American Values

Matt Colleran

Originally, I was planning to write on either the Alabama Senate special election or the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill this week, but, following the escalation of the epidemic of NFL players not standing for the National Anthem (plus the announcement that the NBA champions will not be visiting the White House), I felt that I had to share my thoughts.

While the controversy of NFL players not standing for the National Anthem has been going on for over a year (since ex-49ers QB Colin Kaepernick refused to stand), it almost seemed to be dying down in the early weeks of this season until this weekend.  On Friday night, at a rally in Alabama, President Trump suggested that he wants the NFL and the owners of the 32 teams to step in and cut players who protest the national anthem.  Unfortunately, the president’s comments have seemed to have the reverse effect of making protests more common.  

When a player for your favorite team scores a touchdown or hits a homerun, does anyone care what his political views are?

The entire Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans teams decided to remain in the locker room for the national anthem, and over a dozen players refused to stand in the Ravens-Jaguars game Sunday morning in London.  It even spread to the MLB for the first time Saturday, when Oakland A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell took a knee for the national anthem.  The sad irony is that the president’s comments, while understandable, have only reinvigorated this unpatriotic and disgusting protest.  Now, players are going to protest as a way of saying “I don’t like Trump,” instead of even protesting a perceived injustice.

Besides just being disrespectful to our troops and police officers, what these protests have done is take away our society’s last true unifying non-political pastime.  While you would never know that from watching ESPN, tons of Americans want a refuge from their political views when we watch sports.  When a player for your favorite team scores a touchdown or hits a homerun, does anyone care what his political views are?  Sports should be free from politics.  I would not support a player protesting the national anthem because our country aborts roughly one million babies a year either, as saddening as that stat is.  

Lastly, however, the NFL is acting against its financial interests by encouraging these protests.  NFL fans are predominantly conservative, so I partially buy the argument that some casual fans have tuned out the NFL because a minority of players have injected anti-Americanism into the game.  I personally believe that private corporations should not censor the free speech rights of their employees (if the media would stop covering it, maybe it would go away on its own), but it is telling that Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned following his protests.  The NFL is a business, and no team wants to alienate its fans by signing a borderline-serviceable quarterback like Kaepernick that would inspire a vitriolic reaction to so many fans.