by Diane Rufino, June 8, 2018
A few years ago, the talk of the media was professional football player Tim Tebow. He took a knee, not during the National Anthem and not in protest of any sort. He took a knee before and after each game he played (from his sophomore year in high school through his time in the NFL) to “thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and to put things in perspective.” He was absolutely vilified for doing so. It was an abomination and offensive to the fans and to those watching his games on TV, according to members of the media.
“I never did anything during a national anthem but stand and support my country,” he explained.
And that’s what the playing of the National Anthem is all about….. recognizing that the game is being played in the “Land of the Free” and being grateful for that. It’s about supporting the country we all live in.
Then we have different football players who have been taking a knee, during the National Anthem, to make a very public protest over what they don’t like about the country. The more left-leaning media has continued to praise their courage and support their right to protest as they see fit.
So this is what we’ve been told: Kneeling During Anthem — Good; Kneeling To Pray – Bad.
But that’s from the leftist media’s point of view. The President, however, feels very differently, and he happens to be joined by the majority of Americans. President Trump views the “taking of the knee during the National Anthem” (or any variation of that protest) as a contemptible act. He views it as an act of disrespect to those who serve the country unconditionally and who have died for their loyalty and devotion. Trump criticized the NFL for allowing protest during what he called the “country’s love song,” and to some extent, his criticisms have had an impact.
To the leftist media, the protests by the NFL players are rightful expressions of outrage over social injustice, forced nationalism, and forced patriotism; the protests, they say, are rightful expressions of free speech.
The President, on the other hand, holds the opinion that the football field is not the place for such protests and certainly not during the playing of the National Anthem. Men and women have given their lives in support of the rights of Americans to exercise their rights freely, regardless of their personal political views or their religious affiliation. President Trump believes that out of respect for their service to all Americans equally, players should not hijack the National Anthem to make their political statement.
I’m glad President Trump cancelled the celebration at the White House for the Philadelphia Eagles. The NFL has ceased to be about the sport of professional football, which it was organized for, and has become both a forum for politics and a vehicle for it. It has offended too many Americans who pay far too much to merely enjoy a good old-fashioned game of football, usually with their buddies or with their family members.
The players sign a contract to play football, to entertain people who PAY to watch them play. Their contract is not like one for Jimmy Kimmel or Joe Scarborough or even Tucker Carlson, who are paid to express their political views. When patrons attend a game, these players essentially take them hostage and force them to hear (or view) their politics, which often includes the disrespect of the country they love, a history they appreciate, and the sacrifice of men and women who give their lives defending the flag and our ideals. Why do I say that the patrons are “held hostage”? I say that because after paying a lot for the ticket, and also probably paying too much for beer and stadium food, and looking forward to watching their team play, they are usually willing to tolerate the political messages the players express. But make no mistake, they are being forced to hear (or see) their protests. They did not buy a ticket to be held as political hostages. Players are just like every other American – they have a role as an employee and a role as a private citizen. Almost every American cannot use their jobs as a platform to espouse political views. In fact, HR makes it very clear that the workplace is a neutral place – nothing can be said or displayed to make it hostile for any other employee. As a private citizen, however, each person has a political voice and can use that voice however he or she sees fit, including using all possible outlets (social media, phone calls, emails, yard signs, tee shirts, letters to the editor, visits to their representatives, protests and marches, rallies, etc). The NFL is a forum for sports and as players (as paid employees of the NFL), they should be required to respect a neutral environment for their fans and not create a hostile environment for those who don’t share their same political views. They are public figures, they can use their voices off the football field.
With that in mind, I am glad President Trump did-invited the Philadelphia Eagles to the White House. The sports-White House tradition is just that – a tradition. It is a celebration or recognition of the historic and traditional love affair that Americans have (maybe “had”), pure and simple, with sports and competition. It has always been a non-political love affair and a non-political tradition. Making it political destroys everything. And because it does, there is no need to continue the tradition of having the winning teams to the White House because that, in and of itself, now becomes a political statement.
We all know Colin Kaepernick and how he started the “take the knee” movement. We know why he did it – to protest police brutality against African-Americans. As he said when he first started taking a knee: “”To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street, and people getting paid leave, and getting away with murder.” His “taking the knee” protest led to the “standing with arms locked” movement, leading to the “staying behind in the locker room” movement, leading to the “fist in the air” movement. They are all various forms of the very visible protest movement started by Kaepernick. But let’s be honest, the NFL players (and in particular, the Philadelphia Eagles), used the very public “National Anthem protest” controversy to show their lack of support and indeed, their contempt, for President Trump and his administration. They turned a wholesome sport into a political vehicle. I am sorry folks, but Kaepernick was wrong for starting this movement and he has done a lot of damage and caused a lot of resentment in this country. He has “politicized” many fellow players. He has brought disrepute to professional football and to himself and fellow players. At least, that is how I see it from the comments made about the current status of the NFL. He may have a legitimate gripe but the football field is not the place to make it. He and his fellow protesters should have been taking their concerns to President Obama, who was hugely obsessed with the treatment of African-Americans by law enforcement. President Trump is working very hard to improve the lives of African-Americans (for ALL Americans, let’s be clear) and to improve the status of their communities. Political disrespect to this President on racial issues is just inexcusable.
No one takes a spoiled grossly-overpaid professional athlete seriously. And many see the protests over injustice against African-Americans by the police as hypocritical. They complain about racial profiling and over-policing in African-American communities yet they themselves are often brought up on drug charges, carrying an unlawful firearm, brandishing a firearm, threatening others with a firearm, manslaughter, gun violence, killing their girlfriend (and sometimes the babies they are carrying). If they really care about the issue and if they really want to be the instruments of change and meaningful dialogue, then they should work to come up with solutions, point out where the problems lie, exactly (on both sides), admit to the failings in the African-Americans communities that cause over-policing, donate their money to the right causes, become role models to impoverished and crime-ridden communities…. What they shouldn’t do is merely take a knee or hide in the locker room to make a statement. That does nothing but foster division, send wrong or mis-messages, and increase tensions. They are nothing more than attention-grabbing opportunities that end up creating more controversy.