After Donald Trump’s rather colorful admonition last week to fire any football player who takes a knee during the national anthem—and after Sunday’s entirely predictable snit fit thrown by said players in response—one can only come to the sad conclusion that the words “professional” and “athlete,” when placed next to one another, form quite the oxymoron, at least in the NFL context. How else do you explain why, when faced with being called out as punks by the president of the United States, these giants of the gridiron can’t wait to dogpile each other to prove his point? Never in the history of sticking it to the man has the stick been wielded with such incompetence. Roger Goodell must be the only man in America right now getting pity from Hillary Clinton.
And for what? To whom exactly is the NFL trying to pander? It’s certainly not their fans. Half empty stadiums and a steady ratings slide have made their feelings on the subject abundantly clear. Even my own dad, who has been a professional football addict all his life and used to spend his Sundays in a room with three TV sets watching games, told me yesterday that he’d had it with the NFL. Why spend three and a half hours with a slow-moving showcase for beer and Viagra commercials played by a bunch of prima donnas who complain about the injustice of a country in which they became millionaires for moving a ball up and down a field—particularly when they can’t even move that ball more than five yards without a penalty flag? NASCAR is a lot more fun anyway, and as an added bonus they try not to piss off their fans.
Or is the NFL just trying to placate the social justice warriors? That’s a possibility—but the kind of man who talks about health care in his pajamas while sipping hot cocoa isn’t exactly their target demographic, so that theory might have a few holes. And while the gals who marched on Washington in their p*ssy hats could certainly be rowdy, I don’t think that’s what ol’ Hank had in mind when he sang about his friends coming over to watch some football.
So who’s left from the usual suspects?
The institution that fuels the fire, of course: The American media.
It was the media, recall, that first called attention to all this business with Colin Kaepernick, who may have really been sincere in his belief that the police target minorities with excessive force and took a knee during the national anthem to raise awareness of an injustice. On the other hand, Kaepernick may have also been a quarterback in a slump who had been riding a bench and knew his days were numbered, and so he decided to insulate himself by engaging in some social justice warrioring of his own. That way, when he got dumped, he could say the 49ers cut him for his activism and not because he stank on ice.
Guess which way the media decided to cover the story?
This was the same media, by the way, that stoked Kaepernick’s grievances with myths like “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” and basically painted a target on the backs of cops across the country. So it only made sense that they would rally to Kaepernick’s side and give him all kinds of attention, which naturally led to copycats dropping to their knees faster faster than the intern pool at Bill Clinton’s White House.
And poof! Just like that, football got political. Never mind that the fans didn’t want it that way. Never mind that they just wanted to open a few tailgates, grill a few burgers, pound some suds and escape the dreary day-to-day for a few hours. They had to be made to care, for in the progressive mindset there is nothing outside politics. And with ESPN acting as an enforcer, there was no getting away from it.
So the NFL did what most linguini-spined institutions do, and took the path of least resistance. They allowed the problem to fester. Even as the fans began peeling away, they insisted that their players had every right to alienate those fans with their antics. As long as the progressive media continued to fawn, that’s all that mattered.
There’s thing that seems to have escaped the NFL’s notice, though: progressives hate football. They hate the attitude that winning is everything. They hate the competition that creates losers. They hate that football is a boys-only club filled with locker room talk that demeans and degrades women. Most of all, though, they detest football’s toxic masculinity. For that reason alone, they’d just as soon end the sport—and they’re well on their way to destroying it, what with their breathless coverage of head trauma and other dangers that are keeping more and more boys from taking up football in the first place.
So ask me again, why is the NFL trying to appease this beast at the expense of its fans?
That kind of behavior can only be described as suicidal—but if the NFL is determined to take that path, they’ll find that the media will be only too happy to play Dr. Kevorkian for them.