It was much easier to boycott the NFL last season than I anticipated. For one, I underestimated how much I’d enjoy having my Sundays back. Also, my NFL fandom belongs to a team with a racist name that also happens to suck more often than not, so boycotting because the NFL blackballed Colin Kaepernick was as much “Why don’t I just enjoy life” as it was actively taking a stance.
But a stance I did take. I specifically didn’t watch NFL games because I think the NFL is remarkably tone-deaf and places the value of a dollar over the rights of persons from affected communities to use their tremendous platform to speak on issues that directly speak to them. And it also kept Kaepernick out on purpose because white people put up a stink. But the league sucks in lots of other areas, too.
When the NFL stops a person from being able to even support breast-cancer awareness in the name of his own mother during months that the NFL doesn’t have a specific interest in doing so, there’s a problem.
Thus, I was right there with my support of all the players who chose to kneel or protest silently against police brutality, following in the activist steps of Kaepernick, who wasn’t able to do so on the field. Fuck the NFL.
So I sat out last season and haven’t worn any NFL-related ’nalia since longer than I can remember, except for that one time I wore my Kaepernick jersey to Jay-Z’s 4:44 concert stop in Washington, D.C.
Of course, the NFL and owners were pissed and didn’t want the white consumers to think that the black players were able to exert too much authority over the product they know and love, so last season was especially full of strife for the league and its inability to address the concerns of the players.
Now, the hope, for me, has been that the NFL would somehow find a way to allow players the rights to their humanity while still doing their job of putting a product on the field that white people who get their panties in a bunch because black people care about one another could enjoy.
Even if I’m not likely to watch, those 53 men on each team are employees and it is their job, and I’d like them to be able to continue to earn their livings (all jobs come with rules) without the NFL succumbing to these stupid-ass people who think that protesting while the anthem is being played before games means that they’re not supportive of the military or any other false equivalence. Idealistic? Perhaps.
But the NFL gon’ NFL. On Wednesday, news came down that the NFL owners had unanimously approved an anthem policy. Per ESPN:
NFL owners have unanimously approved a new national anthem policy that requires players to stand if they are on the field during the performance but gives them the option to remain in the locker room if they prefer, it was announced Wednesday.
The policy subjects teams to a fine if a player or any other team personnel does not show respect for the anthem. That includes any attempt to sit or kneel, as dozens of players have done during the past two seasons. Those teams will also have the option to fine any team personnel, including players, for the infraction.
So, basically, people can give a fuck in private, but while publicly representing the NFL on the field (their on-field platform), they need to straighten up and fly right. If anybody in the NFL wants to give a fuck about police brutality (or anything else), they need to do so out of the watchful eyes of folks who might be offended by them giving a fuck about police brutality (or anything else).
And if they buck the system, both the player and the team will be fined. The player loses financially, and the team loses financially for not keeping its players in line. Got it.
It’s easy for me to say fuck the NFL because the league doesn’t sign my checks, but since it’s easy, fuck the NFL. On the one hand, it’s a compromise (so to speak) to give the players the option to not come onto the field, but it’s also silencing them in the space they’ve been using to lend voice to a systemic American problem that affects many players.
The protest is only even considered disruptive because viewers decided that it was disruptive. No plays are ruined. No one is harmed. It’s about as white a version of an MLK protest as you can get in a public space. And the NFL is like, naw, not on our watch; not while white people don’t like it.
Making players mandatory patriots (as my boy calls it) doesn’t fix anything; it actually makes it worse. The NFL is putting its foot on the necks of players and telling them that while they’re doing their job, there is no place for their personal politics.
And that’s ridiculous.
But it’s also the right of the NFL and its owners to continue to attempt to troll everybody. And I guess when your organization is so bad at everything but the on-field product, trolling is all you have.
So, yeah, looks like my Sundays will remain wide open for the foreseeable future. Hit me up for those unlimited mimosa brunches.
Or at least until the NBA season resumes.