Thank you, Mr. President!
Was a time, and what a time it was, when we could tell ourselves that football was that one place where people of all political persuasions could get together to exult or commiserate, depending on the outcome of the game, without the horror of differing beliefs or opinions interfering with whether we were going to be in a good mood or bad that week. That may be the rose colored glasses speaking, but it was nice to believe that we could find common ground in our admiration of the great catch that won the game, a feat of superhuman ability, or rupture a spleen when said catch was not made and the game lost, and how could he not make that catch, why I could have made that catch because we all know, if I’m known for one thing, it’s running at full speed, jumping to the point of being parallel to the ground, extending those fingers, snaring the ball and pulling it in, something I do everyday as a mid-level employee at whatever large or medium conglomerate would have me, and winning the game!
The anthem was something we either loved, ignored, or were obligated to endure, but it generally had no real impact on what we thought of the game and its outcome. I personally, being a veteran (6 years, Navy) like the anthem because it’s fun to sing and it represents what I see as the positives of being an American and why I chose to serve in the first place. I can also say, that it bugs me when people don’t take off their hats, talk through its singing, whine that it means they have to wait till it’s finished before they can order or pay for their polyester nachos, or abuse and change the lyrics to Home of the Chiefs (or whatever team is the home team) versus Home of the Brave, which can actually matter to those who serve or have or to those who have family who have given their life to their country.
But that’s just me.
I suppose I could be offended because there will be people who see the flag representing other ideals or lesser qualities to American life than I do. I don’t, however, have a problem with that. I considered it part of the deal when I agreed to enlist that I would be protecting the rights of people to say things I don’t agree with. And I don’t believe that kneeling while the anthem is played or sung at a sporting event is disrespectful for two reasons:
First, kneeling is not a sign of disrespect. Do we not kneel in church? Or before certain dignitaries or royalty? I’ll save my dislike for the idea of “Being Royalty” for another time, but it is an accepted custom. And it has no direct effect on me because I am not compelled to kneel just because someone else does. My preference is to stand and sing and that’s what I do! If the guy next to me wishes to kneel and remain silent, that’s his thing. It doesn’t diminish who I am or what I believe! It’s also important to remember that there any number of acts that would be far more egregious than kneeling: turning your back to the flag; disrupting the singer or the band playing; interfering with or damaging those football field sized flags unfurled before games; screaming and yelling and making an ass of yourself, think high school football and some of the goofy shit you see happening at those games.
Secondly, it’s a professional football game which means it’s entertainment, no different essentially than going to the opera. That we’ve injected the anthem into the proceedings does not change that. It is not a solemn occasion or memorial being acted upon or defamed. Football players and owners are not kneeling during the burial at Arlington National Cemetery of a fallen solder or a remembrance of those who have died in the service of our country.
It’s a football game, where many times the singer is doing it not only, one hopes, for love of country, but so we can note that he or she has a recording contract with Warner Brothers and we should check it out at our earliest convenience. It’s not a sacred place not matter what the crazed obsessed fan may tell you. It is the quintessential commercial enterprise: it’s a very expensive stadium, that you’re paying for but can’t use, where it cost $80 a ticket, as much for a single beer as what a six-pack would cost at the store, $10 burgers, all so you can watch grown men play a game. If it pisses you off that they make a lot of money and don’t seem grateful then why are you continuing to support it? It’s market driven, plain and simple, and if you truly could play at that level and given what we know about the consequences on your health from playing, you’d be taking all you could too.
If it makes you angry; don’t watch; don’t go; don’t merchandize.
Personally, I don’t think this is the best way to start any conversation about race, racism and its place in our society and I don’t think Trump is doing this for any other reason than it gets people ginned up and he’s still mad because he never got into the NFL owners club.
But for whatever reason he’s doing it,
I’m not taking the bait.