Dear American Sports Fans,
I know some of you were quite put off with the displays of Colin Kaepernick and his protest against police brutality by kneeling during the National Anthem. Many of you voiced your displeasure throughout the airways and on chat room and websites across the Internet. You brought up the military, “good cops”, and respect for the flag and told him and any other athlete or spectator to think long and hard about these items as your annoyance over these displays grew. In fact in a recent poll, forty-four percent of you said you would stop watching NFL games if Kaepernick continued to kneel.
To the forty-four percent, let me say this.
The NFL is the single biggest sports entity in America. No matter what other sports are being played on Sunday, they all take a back seat to football. The forty-four percent will not be missed. There are enough eyes on the tube to keep the Nielsen ratings high.
But there are some in the majority that will keep watching but are still bothered by Kaepernick and other professional athletes making a gesture, whether it’s taking a knee or holding up a fist. You thought that it all went away after the preseason.
But you forgot one thing. Week One fell on the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11. Players were cognizant of this occasion and held off. But Week Two…the kneeling and fists were scattered throughout the league.
American Sports Fans, here’s a newsflash. This isn’t going away. It’s only going to grow.
This generation of athlete is not going to just shut up and play to keep you happy. We all live in a digital world dominated by the likes of Facebook and Twitter and athletes use these outlets to speak their own unfiltered piece. For each tweet or post or picture, they can share their thoughts and views on the world while fans and non-fans respond in kind.
And people have to talk about it. Oh American Sports Fans, I know this makes you uncomfortable. Some would say that’s a good thing. So I guess you’ll have to be uncomfortable before you relax and watch your favorite team.
And guess what? The protests are growing and it doesn’t matter whether or not players are on the field. I watched a college football game last Saturday and in the stands were a group of about fifty students dressed in black with fists in the air as the band played the National Anthem on the field. You couldn’t miss them. The school colors were blue and white. And on the field there were even band members who didn’t play a note on their instruments but instead took a knee in protest.
Whether it’s pro or college or even high school or youth league, players and fans are bringing the frustrations and anger over what they see in the media or in their community to the forefront of the sporting world. American Sports Fans, whether you like it or not, you’re forced to acknowledge it. You have always wanted sports to be your escape from the troubles of the real world. Well, you can’t do that anymore. Sports, if even for a moment, brings the trouble right back into your lap and you know how a player or players feel about what’s going on.
Oh, and by the way, basketball season is fast approaching and no group of players have been as socially aware or as outspoken as the NBA. I dare anybody to come out and say they’ll stop watching if LeBron raises a fist.