People are free to say or stand for whatever they want to in America. The flip side of that is, people are free to turn their noses up to whatever that’s been said (or stood for) and find another option. So it tickled me hot pink to read Mike Rowe’s salient point about the NFL #TakeAKnee event which has many Americans all riled up.
I was disappointed last night, to hear President Trump encourage owners to fire players who refuse to stand for the anthem. Not because I dispute the owners right to do so, or the players right to protest. I was disappointed because the President’s comments presuppose that the owners are in charge of the game. They’re not. We are. We decide what to watch, and that decision – far more than any other consideration – will determine what the owners choose to do. And that in turn will affect what the players choose to do.
Bingo. The same can be said for any industry. If the product is found wanting, the consumer will shop elsewhere.
As the leader of the country, the President had an opportunity to remind us that The NFL, the networks who broadcast their games, and all of the players – standers and kneelers alike – work for us. He might have also used the occasion to remind us that he too, serves at our pleasure.
I included this pull quote for a simple reason: the president, whether you voted for him or not, whether he “understands how you feel” or if he promises you can keep your doctor (ahem Obama), is the employee of the people. He is not a king who gets to make decrees or interfere in the private sector without criticism. So bonus points to Rowe for calling out Trump here.
Americans love their sports. But there’s been a slow creeping of politics into sports for a long time, and it’s been tolerated by fans. A lot has been tolerated by fans, as Rowe points out. Tolerated because the muckity-mucks in the NFL know Americans love their football and will swallow what the NFL shoves down their throats.
Historically, football fans have shown a collective willingness to ignore and enable all sorts of dubious behavior. The players have agents and unions, the owners have money and power, and the fans are always caught in the middle. The resulting strikes and the constant uprooting of teams from broken-hearted towns proves beyond all question the overall lack of regard for fans in general.
The fans of professional football are not powerless – they’re just not yet offended enough to turn the channel. Should that ever change in a meaningful way – if for instance, a percentage of football fans relative to those players who chose to kneel during today’s games, chose to watch something else next Sunday – I can assure you…the matter would be resolved by Monday.
Sub-textually Mike is suggesting a boycott. It’s between the lines in a rather obvious way, like Tess Holliday dancing in Swan Lake. But he’s probably right. If enough people change the channel or pick another Sunday activity besides watching football, the NFL would make changes.
But therein lies the rub. Because hundreds of thousands of Americans (if not millions) still go to games. Even more still watch football. It’s so ingrained in their fall and winter schedules, it’s tradition. A lot of people on social media right now are making a stink over how upset they are over the Take a Knee kerfuffle. But how many will actually stop watching football until this is resolved? How many Americans will actually give up their long held Sunday tradition of watching their favorite sport and their favorite teams?