Four current and former NFL players have written the league and have requested a month dedicated to ‘social activism.‘ In a memorandum to the league, the group stated, “We would like November to serve as a month of Unity for individual teams to engage and impact the community in their market…” Setting aside a month for “activism” would be the catalyst for nearly half of NFL fans to walk away from the game that they love.
Since 2009, the NFL has engaged in promoting our nation’s military at the beginning of each game through flyovers and by playing the national anthem. The fact they are being paid for their patriotic overtures means that the NFL does not hold the moral high ground on this issue. Beyond this, the league spent several years featuring “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” each October. The hypocrisy of a league that is comprised entirely of male athletes setting aside a significant portion of their regular season to raise money for women’s cancer is a topic that other blogs have covered in-depth. Since Roger Goodell and the NFL have decided to use their platform to promote awareness in other arenas, social activists believe that it is time for the NFL to dedicate a month to their cause.
While there are legitimate social issues in our country that need to be addressed, sports fans are engaging in movements like #BoycottESPN to voice their opinion that the time to address these issues is not during an NFL game. Millions of us tune in to sports as an escape from the looming seriousness of politics. Fans are becoming disgusted by player-activists hijacking the game they love to watch and turning it into a highly charged political debate. Even casual fans realize that players who are leading the charge, such as Colin Kaepernick and Michael Bennett, do not deserve their respect. They are recently converted zealots and their respective pasts are littered with misdeeds that undermine our perception of them. Why should I have to spend a month listening to Fidel Castro sympathizer Colin Kaepernick lecture me on race relations, when he can’t stop himself from dropping N-bombs on live TV? Will the NFL dare to force their fans to spend their November listening to Michael Bennett, the black power-saluting author of the upcoming book “Things That Make White People Uncomfortable,” infringe upon their enjoyment of the game by spewing his opinion of how police should do their jobs? The NFL risks seriously pissing off nearly half of their fan base if they decide to give these clowns a month of ‘Awareness.’
While we don’t know if the NFL is seriously considering their proposal, it is important to note that the league has already seen its ratings drop precipitously during the 2016 season. Many have speculated that the primary reason that millions of fans tuned out was due to the focus of sports media on social activism antics during the games. I’d like to know what the endgame is here, both for the league and for ESPN, as a massive contract binds their futures together. The brain trust up in Bristol succeeded in enraging millions of their subscribers last week by not suspending Jemele Hill. Wayne Allyn Root recently compared ESPN’s actions with committing brand suicide. The National Football League isn’t quite there yet, but, should they decide to entertain these clowns, November won’t just be “NFL Celebrates Social Activism” Month. It will be the beginning of a ratings bloodletting for the league that will end with the Shield and the Worldwide Leader holding hands and driving off the edge of the cliff.