Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Politicization of EVERYTHING...

Now that my initial sadness has subsided, I wanted to share a few thoughts on the current political climate, specifically around the NFL protests:

First – and most important in my book – regardless of the issue, bringing politics into the sporting professions (it is spreading across various sports, probably because of Trump) is not something I can support.  No, not because I am against their right to protest. But mainly because I believe that it has no place on the field.  Sure, those protesting want to garner the maximum amount of attention to their issue / causes as possible. And there is no larger audience than the nationally televised broadcast of their sporting event. But their protest detracts from the game – it has NOTHING to do with the game, and they should not be using the game as their pulpit to advertise their message.  If they were protesting some aspect of the game, of even something related to the game, I think I could better understand that.  But arguably, that is not what they are protesting.  They should use their First Amendment right somewhere other than the playing field. Use their vast celebrity to hold their own press conference. Follow JJ Watt’s example: he recently used his celebrity to raise over $30 million of Texas relief, so I know it is possible.

Second – yes, it is absolutely possible and – I would argue – the responsibility of NFL owners to stop these protests. People have been talking about First Amendment rights, and there is certainly a free speech right that our soldiers and veterans have fought to defend. But over and over again, the Supreme Court and the various appeals courts have ruled that the right to free speech does not extend to the workplace. Case in point – agree or disagree – is the guy who was fired from Google for his views on women in the workplace.  According to the Google CEO, Damore so called manifesto “violate[d] our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.” Basically, his memo was disruptive to the workplace, and caused discomfort among the employees.  Certainly true, and so he was fired for his beliefs – however misguided they may or may not have been.  And arguably, the same thing could be said about what is happening with the NFL protesters.  Viewership is significantly down, and player / protesters / teams are losing financially lucrative endorsement deals. Can anyone argue that the actions of the protesters have not been disruptive? All this to say is that the right to free speech does not extend to the football (or any other) field – the professional sporting organizations are ALLOWING this to happen. They are supporting – implicitly or explicitly – these protests and protesters.  Conversations about freedom of speech are not relevant to the issue at hand, because the NFL and the ownership is condoning this, allowing this, supporting this, and permitting this to happen.

Lastly, is it so much to ask to have something – nearly anything – at this point that can be apolitical? I pretty much avoid all cable and national news because of the political biases – on both sides, by the way. Print media and the media in general has always had a degree of political bias. I have stopped watching the CBS Sunday Morning show: it was literally one of the very few things that I nearly always watched. But since Charles Osgood left the show (retired) and Jane Pauley took over, the segments have a much more politicized bent. The Emmys? The Oscars? Pretty much any “award” show out there? All have become political bashing. Look, I get it – politics affects everyone. I am one of the biggest political junkies I know. But when is enough enough? I find myself watching MASH reruns and BBC news mainly because I can’t stand anything else on the TV.  Now, sports is tainted as well.

I am not looking to boycott the NFL. I am still an “owner” of the Green Bay Packers, and I will likely always support my team. I am just deeply disappointed in President Trump (PLEASE, JUST PLEASE get off of Twitter – even for just a little bit), the NFL, the owners, the players and the protesters for stripping away some of the magic that is professional football.