Now It's More Than Just a Game
Players locking arms is a call for POTUS to get his act together
Pence walked out, Trump is threatening to yank tax credits from one of our country's largest employers, Kaepernick is suing everyone and Fox Sports announced that they will no longer be airing the National Anthem before NFL football games. Are you sick of it yet? Athletes across the nation are participating in postures not aligned with traditions we are used to during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner. This form of protest has us all asking why and what it really means. Police are asking if it’s to protest them while some Military Veterans may view a kneel or sideline-long arm locking as disrespectful to their service. First Amendment advocates and the football players union (NFLPA) along with some team owners are supporting their individual rights while Trumpist bashes them claiming TV ratings are down. The actions of the players are what this divided nation needs to put her foot down and say enough is enough and establish some normalcy in the chaotic era of Trump.
Fact is, NFL TV ratings have been decreasing and it has nothing to do with Donald Trump’s unpredictable tweets. The most-watched seasons in NFL history were 2010, 2014 and 2015. Over the first 9 weeks of the 2016 season, ratings were down 14%. Why? Was it Colin Kaepernick’s historic National Anthem kneel in early August 2016 in protest of police brutality. Maybe? Or was it the release of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) data that made viewers squeamish to watch potentially deadly hits. In March 2016, an NFL Health and Safety official admitted before Congress a direct link between football-related head trauma and CTE.
Over the last decade, enrollment in youth football is down 4.5% according to the National Federation of State High School Associations and to date, Trump has tweeted nothing about it. To give Trump’s call for firings as the reason why ratings are declining is shortsighted.
What the players are doing is an experience our country needs to realize that Trump has gone too far and changes are needed to keep the White House focused on running our federal government. Professional sports are a healthy distraction from the everyday stresses of modern life. Watching games donned in our team’s colors was once an activity that was safe from politics. Before the last election, most players did their best to keep their political beliefs out of the public spotlight because drawing any unnecessary attention to themselves or their employers was frowned upon. With Trump calling for the firing of any player who doesn’t stand during the national anthem, he has awoken sleeping giants, literally and figuratively, and brought the players into a new game they’re not used to playing in.
What Trump did was illegal. Sec. 18 US Code 227 makes it illegal to wrongfully influence a private entity’s employment decisions by a Member of Congress or an officer or employee of the legislative or executive branch. This code violation has been called out numerous times but justice in the Trump era is selective.
In a press release the NFLPA has said “no man or woman should ever have to choose a job that forces them to surrender their rights and that the divisiveness we are experiencing in this country has created gridlock in our political system and paralyzed our progress as a nation, but NFL players have proven to unify people in our country's toughest moments and we will continue to do so.”
The locking of arms by the players on the sidelines during the National Anthem will be common until Trump improves. This protest is a reminder that nothing is sacred anymore. The players are asking fans to join them in locking arms to send the message to Trump that he needs to focus his attention on Presidential matters and leave alone, the sport we love.