The media considers it a political stunt when Vice President Mike Pence leaves a football game because he is offended by players disrespecting the flag. That same media does not consider football players taking a knee during the national anthem a political stunt.
The NFL considers players taking a knee during the national anthem freedom of speech. That same NFL does not consider it free speech when football players want to honor the victims of 9-11 on their cleats. It also fines players for wanting to honor fallen police officers with decals on the helmets.
The bogus reason the NFL cites about its stance on the cleats and helmets is a uniform rule in the players’ handbook. That’s fair. It’s also fair to cite the rule found on pages A62-63 of the league rulebook. It states:
The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem. During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition. It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.”
What the players and the front-running protesters do not comprehend is the players represent their team and the league. That means they must abide by the rules set forth by their respective teams and league. Since most teams are supporting the players and the league is supporting the teams it’s fair to presume the NFL and teams condone the actions.
If that is the case, then the NFL, teams, and players should be willing to accept any and all backlash their actions warrant from their fan base and sponsors. It’s a simple accountability.
My youngest son goes to a Catholic school that has rules concerning hair length for boys. He was told to cut his hair because it was too long. He was not happy and wanted to protest. We advised against it because we knew the rules when we decided to attend the school. However, we will decline to support the school financially when they ask for future donations.
That is our recourse. Likewise, the only recourse every football fan and sponsor has is to vote with their wallet. I am not suggesting people partake in an organized boycott or we should use the wallet as a means to impose our will on others. I am simply stating the obvious. Every action has an opposite and equal reaction.
Just ask Jemele Hill, the controversial ESPN anchor who was suspended for telling fans to boycott the Dallas Cowboys after owner Jerry Jones told players they would be benched if they didn’t stand for the national anthem. ESPN, however, did not discipline Hill a few weeks back when she called President Trump a white supremacist on Twitter.
Apparently, ESPN only takes action when ad dollars are at risk. It seems a number of companies that advertise with the Cowboys also advertise with ESPN. Coincidence? Maybe. It appears organizations only pay attention to protests when it affects the bottom line.