NFL football is the most popular American sport, so popular that only two days separate the end of one weekend on Monday Night Football and the beginning of the next on Thursday Night Football. The extension from formerly just a Sunday afternoon sport has meant the National Football League has become a giant money machine for players, owners and commissioners.
But the NFL has made what may ultimately become the fatal error of becoming an outward political entity. The NFL is now a full-bore politically liberal organization that — literally — bans dissent it disagrees with but allows protests its fan base disagrees with. It’s the classic modern liberal misreading of the American people.
The media establishment laughingly now wants to blame President Trump for the division in the country regarding the NFL, as though this all started last week. Trump certainly threw some gas on a fire, but all of us football fans have been watching with frustration the existing fire that was burning a divide in America.
The NFL, led by Commissioner Roger Goodell, could have doused the initial flames with a tiny tea cup of water. But it did not because it is now driven by a clearly manifested liberal ideology — and there is no better way to divide Americans and destroy a popular pastime than to do what it is doing.
Here are four reasons the NFL — from players to Commissioner Goodell — is dead wrong to be kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police killing black men.
1. NFL is overtly hypocritical in speech it bans
Remember, protesting is political speech. It is protected by 1st Amendment from government control and everyone cherishes that right. But it is not protected by private enterprises, such as sports leagues or businesses. The hypocrisy is clearly seen in what the NFL actually has stopped.
- The NFL banned the Dallas Cowboys from wearing a decal last year on their helmets honoring the murdered Dallas police officers.
- The NFL banned players from wearing socks with Sept. 11 on them in memorial of those killed in the 9-11 Islamist terrorist attacks.
- The NFL forced Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III to turn his Christian T-Shirt inside out for a press conference.
Let’s not pretend this is free speech or protest. This is some free speech and protest. The NFL is more than happy to come down like a sledgehammer on speech that might, in the most general way, be considered right of center politically. But it then allows speech that might broadly be considered left of center.
This makes the NFL leadership a classic modern liberal organization acting in political ways to further an agenda with no adherence whatsoever to principles. They are closer to the anti-free speech codes on college campuses than they are to their fan base. This represents an ongoing problem for the League.
2. NFL is killing its ratings
Viewership and attendance at NFL games continues to decline as the protests continue to escalate. In fact, they cratered this past weekend in a way that ought to be shocking to League leadership.
The Associate Press reports:
“Through three weeks, viewership for national telecasts of NFL games is down 11 percent this season compared to 2016, the Nielsen company said on Tuesday. Nielsen said the games averaged 17.63 million viewers for the first three weeks of last season, and have dipped to 15.65 million this year.”
That is a drop of two million viewers year over year. The hugely popular Sunday Night Football game dropped 8 percent compared to just the previous week, when it was already down from last year.
3. NFL is killing its loyal fan base
In response to the entire Pittsburgh Steelers’ team (minus one Army Ranger veteran) staying off the field for the National Anthem, a wave of long-time, hardcore Steelers fans have been burning Steelers jackets, hats and other gear. One fan since 1966 burned all of his Steelers’ stuff.
Season-ticket holders around the country burned their expensive and once-beloved tickets.
And somewhat eye-openingly, New England Patriots’ fans loudly booed players kneeling for the National Anthem. The boos just cascaded down onto the field in waves.
It’s one thing for fans from a blue-collar, rust-belt flyover city like Pittsburgh to do this. But in elite, liberal coastal Boston? Yes. Because football fans are on average to the right of center politically, and certainly when it comes to patriotism and national symbols.
The NFL seems unaware of this.
One Steelers player now famously stood in the tunnel with his hand over his heart during the National Anthem. Starting offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva was an Army Ranger before entering the NFL, serving three tours of duty in Afghanistan.
Last season, he made comments critical of San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose anthem protest lit the fire for other players to follow suit. “I don’t know if the most effective way is to sit down during the national anthem with a country that’s providing you freedom, providing you $16 million a year … when there are black minorities that are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan for less than $20,000 a year,” Villanueva told ESPN.
By last Monday afternoon, the largely unknown offensive lineman’s jersey was the best-selling jersey in the NFL, beating out Tom Brady and other household names.
That is fans openly communicating in clear terms to the League that they do not support what it is allowing. The NFL apparently has forgotten that there is no NFL without the fans. But the fans have not forgotten. And they are putting the League on notice.
4. Last but not least, the actual issue being protested is a myth
We are told that there is an epidemic of cops killing unarmed black men. This storyline is the genesis for Black Lives Matter, but more to the point, it is the initial issue driving the kneeling or sitting during the National Anthem.
But it’s not true.
The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Riley, a black columnist, explains through facts and data — not anecdotes and perceptions — what most of the media refuses to.
“In New York City, home to the nation’s largest police force, officer-involved shootings have fallen by more than 90% since the early 1970s, and national trends have been similarly dramatic.
“A Justice Department report published in 2001 noted that between 1976 and 1998, the teen and adult population grew by 47 million people, and the number of police officers increased by more than 200,000, yet the number of people killed by police “did not generally rise” over this period. Moreover, a ‘growing percentage of felons killed by police are white, and a declining percentage are black.” A separate Justice study released in 2011 also reported a decline in killings by police, between 1980 and 2008. And according to figures from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate at which police kill blacks has fallen by 70% since the late 1960s.”
Heather MacDonald, of the Manhattan Institute, is a foremost researcher on the issue and reports stunning facts opposite of the media/Democrat narrative. For instance, 12 percent of white and Hispanic homicide victims are killed by cops. But only 4 percent of black homicide victims are killed by cops. A police officer is 18 times more likely to be killed by an armed black male than an unarmed black male is to be killed by a police officer. You can see many more of her stats at this Prager U video.
These are facts, not emotions or perceptions or Youtube videos. It’s understood that Democrats do not use contextual facts that actually tell the full truth because dividing by race has been a political ploy for three generations now. The media, essentially Democrats with press credentials, also doesn’t report contextual facts. Social media is social media.
So here’s another fun fact that can be used even on Twitter: A black person is more likely to be hit by lightning than to be killed by a cop in the United States of America. That’s how rare it is.
Yet because of social media and unconscionable hyper media coverage of individual events, blacks now think that if they are pulled over by a cop there’s a good chance they will be shot. This is the alleged “social injustice” that has brought NFL players to disrespect the flag, the National Anthem and the country that has given them freedom and wealth and hope.
NFL fans understand this, at least at the gut level. If the NFL doesn’t get its act in line with its fan base — which represents an awful lot of Americans — it will stop being the most popular sport in the nation. And it will do so for no sound reason but partisan politics.
Just the worst.
Rod Thomson is an author, TV talking head and former journalist, and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act.
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