According to Hollywood, the NFL isn’t politicized enough. And because of this, the NFL has just become the perfect metaphor for modern American politics.
Ever since Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the National Anthem in 2016, and other players followed suit, the NFL has been roiled in controversy that it has become political and radicalized.
Three seasons later, the mere mention of anthem protests still rubs millions of Americans the wrong way. And as TV ratings for football begin to stabilize after two years of steep declines, one assumes the NFL is hoping to put this mess behind them.
Unfortunately for the NFL, there are those who believe that football needs to go further down the anthem protest rabbit hole or else.
Reportedly, megastar Rihanna was offered this year’s Super Bowl halftime show but turned it down because she believes the league is trying to quell the anthem protests and has blackballed Colin Kaepernick from playing in the league. This news was quickly followed up by potty-mouthed comedian Amy Schumer who has vowed not to do any Super Bowl commercials this year in protest of the NFL.
Schumer, who is a relative of the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, espoused this bit of philosophy on social media: "I wonder why more white players aren’t kneeling. Once you witness the truly deep inequality and endless racism people of color face in our country, not to mention the police brutality and murders. Why not kneel next to your brothers? Otherwise how are you not complicit? I think it would be cool if @maroon5 backed out of super bowl like @badgalriri Did. I personally told my reps I wouldn’t do a Super Bowl commercial this year."
Although most Americans are undoubtably cheered knowing that Schumer’s mug will be benched from this year’s Super Bowl, many are now speculating that this is just the beginning of a coming celebrity boycott against the NFL. The whole situation is rich with irony. For the last three years the NFL has taken heat and criticism for the perception that its players are disrespectful to the flag, "Star Spangled Banner," police, military, etc. Now they are facing backlash for not being radical enough.
Observing this, one can’t help but think of the NFL as the perfect allegory to today’s America. On one hand you have Middle America, spitting mad at the NFL for not stopping the anthem protests, while on the other hand you have other Americans mad that the protests don’t go far enough.
Off the gridiron, millions of Americans are shocked and dismayed at the decline of societal norms, talk of socialism, lack of border security, collapse of the traditional family and religion. On the other side of the political spectrum you have millions of Americans mad that the cultural changes they are pushing haven’t yet taken hold across the fruited plains.
We are told that in order to avoid a coming civil war or future violence we all must moderate our positions. What does that mean? For conservatives, does moderate mean that they are to accept anthem protests with an encouraging smile, or for liberals to stop their anthem protests and apologize for any hurt feelings? Do we really think either one of these are going to happen?
How can the NFL resolve the anthem protest, and how can America quell its general discontent and polarization? Both have tried ignoring the problem, hoping it will fade away without much success. I suspect the resolution, if it ever comes for both the NFL and America, will be similar. What that solution is I have no idea.
For now, the NFL and America seem to be two peas in the same political pod.
Matthew Kastel is a 25-year veteran of working as an executive in the world of sports, including professional teams, organizations, and some of the largest vendors in the industry. Matt has also written two novels and teaches and lectures at universities on the business of sports. For more information you can visit his website at thirdstrikeproductions.com. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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