As the NFL returned to television sets and mostly empty stadiums this past Sunday, the issues of racial injustice and police brutality took center stage. The league that only 4 years ago shunned Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the National Anthem, has now shifted to focusing primarily on social justice and how to best support each other emotionally.
Gone are the days of America’s favorite mindless contact sport. In its place, more political statements.
Rather than unite Americans each week, giving them a necessary distraction from the difficulties of everyday life, the NFL is driving a bigger wedge between already-divided neighbors.
Each team was given carte blanche to handle their response to the National Anthem as they saw fit. This made for a wide variety of responses, all of which the NFL found acceptable. Some teams chose to remain in the locker room. Others knelt. The Bears divided themselves into some kneeling, others standing, all linking arms.
The Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Football team chose to stand on the field for the hymn, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as the Black National Anthem - and then retreat to their locker rooms for the Star-Spangled Banner.
To be clear, every single NFL game began with 2 national anthems and declarations of “unity” being the goal.
How do two separate national anthems create unity? A nation claims one song that praises its country and unites its people. Instead, the NFL is dividing America into Black and White.
Walking a Tightrope
While the NFL employs a disproportionate amount of Black Americans, they perform for a largely White audience. And their audience is split on how players should protest racial inequality. An estimated 44% do not find kneeling during the national anthem to be appropriate, meaning the NFL is walking a fine line of supporting their players and losing their fans.
NFL viewership has been decreasing for years, and studies have suggested that the protests factor in. A study conducted in 2016 by Rasmussen Reports revealed that 32% of Americans are less likely to tune into a game because of the protests.
Can Protests Be Considered Apolitical?
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell declared that “We’re not here to make political statements,” prior to the start of the season, but not everyone involved with the NFL got the memo.
Baltimore Ravens’ Calais Campbell spoke openly about his team writing to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), urging the passing of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
ESPN executive Stephanie Druley said on a conference call last week, “We don’t see the social justice movement as being political,” but can that be true?
Many team staffers sported “Black Lives Matter” t-shirts on the sidelines on Sunday, proudly displaying support for an organization that is far from apolitical. The founding of Black Lives Matter is rooted in Marxist ideology.
Antifa has become a face for those “fighting injustices,” but their website redirects to Joe Biden’s fundraising page.
The NFL can claim to be apolitical all they like, but their messaging anything but.
So what does the catalyst of the movement, Colin Kaepernick, think of these calculated and deliberate attempts by the NFL to backtrack and rewrite their reaction to racial inequality? He calls it “propaganda.”
Much like the rest of the mainstream media, the NFL is feeding the American people lies of unity while seeking to further divide us.