Standing Up

First you say it.  Then you do it.

 

A certain family friendly comedian used to include that statement in a bit he did years ago.  I’m pretty sure it was in relation to wearing clean underwear.

 

Sadly, that particular comedian has been disgraced as a result of the unmasking of his own bad behavior.  Needless to say, I feel it’s now necessary to take some steps I would really rather not take.

 

You see, ladies and gentlemen, I try to be a man of principle, lacking in hypocrisy.

 

If certain entities participate in certain behavior that I don’t agree with, I alter my own path so as to avoid enabling that behavior.

 

I don’t buy GM products.

 

I don’t plan to join AARP when they come knocking on my door next year.

 

I don’t buy Girl Scout cookies.

 

The list goes on.

 

We’ve now gotten to a point in our societal devolution where it’s time for me to pull the trigger on another decision which has weighed on my mind for several years now, even more so in the last 12 months.

 

I’m talking about the NFL.

 

God bless all of those individuals who have put in all of the hours, weeks, months, years, and seasons of training to earn their way into a jock strap nestled within a team roster from week to week.  I don’t discount the work they put in.  I know it’s not just a matter of working one day a week for 16 weeks in a regular season.  It takes more than that and we all know it.  It takes conditioning and training.  It takes dexterity and focus.

 

It takes heart.

 

In recent years I’ve really begun to wonder if the game was any better that it was in the 70’s and 80’s when I first started following the NFL.

 

Quick disclaimer:  I know more about my friend Jack Schitt than I do about the game of football.  I can’t read a defense or an offense.  I can tell you when everyone is going long, and I can tell you when the defense is about to blitz the quarterback and his immediate beneficiaries along with the contingent ones as well.  That being said, I couldn’t tell you if the powerhouse offenses and defenses of days gone by are any better, worse, or different from those stomping the yard today.  I do know that the play calling is different than it was back then.  There were plenty of quarterbacks calling their own plays and making things happen.  I don’t know how many quarterbacks do that today without the benefit of having plays called into them via an implantable microchip placed at the base of their medulla oblongata during those pre-season hazing rituals.  Perhaps when they read a defense and see something wrong, they call an audible and change the play to something less scripted.  Beyond that, I think the majority of them are following instructions to the letter from a coach on the sidelines or in the booth upstairs.

 

Obviously, watching the game as a spectator in the stands or on the TV is a different experience than it used to be.  I believe that to be 100% attributable to the technological advances we’ve made since the Carter Administration in drip feeding entertainment into our collective tapioca ensconced skulls.

 

Beyond that, I don’t believe the game to be any better or worse than it was back then.

 

The administration of the game is another story.

 

In the last 20 years alone, we’ve seen the NFL micromanage everything it can get it’s grubby hands on so as to protect its image, its brand, and its coin purse.

 

If you’re running commercials around the end of January and want to make reference to the Super Bowl, you’d better clear it with the league office first.  If you haven’t travelled to King’s Landing and bent the knee to show your fealty, then you’d better not be saying the term “Super Bowl” out loud over any broadcast medium lest you be sued.

 

Players can’t use Beats headphones because the league has a deal with Bose.  Menacing threats and punishments are handed down for various types of celebration, and other behavior deemed innocuous in any other setting.  At the same time, players are also threatened by the league office over showing solidarity with law enforcement agencies over slain police officers, or donning garb which memorializes the 9/11 attacks, or calls attention to that which ails us.

 

So just step away from all of the verbal brilliance for a moment to recount what’s going on.

 

In the NFL, you can’t where cleats which memorialize the 9/11 attacks.

 

In the NFL, you can’t display a small token of solidarity with law enforcement.

 

In the NFL, you can’t use Beats headphones.

 

In the NFL, you can’t celebrate too much with Jazz Hands or canine inspired hydrant acts in the end zone, lest you get flagged.

 

At the same time, the league offers certain “trade-offs” to its players to even out the rigidity of its dress code, its code of conduct, and its endorsement deals.

 

In the NFL, you can make a political statement, as long as it falls in line with a specific narrative.

 

In the NFL, if you want to come out of the locker room and onto the field at the beginning of the game with the rest of your team and throw your “hands up, don’t shoot” sign, that’s okay.  It’s not okay to display any symbols which identify with any sort of law and order.

 

In the NFL, if you want to kneel at various points of the game in a misdirected objective, that’s okay.  It’s when you kneel in a directed objective, like kneeling to pray in the end zone that will get you in trouble.

 

Just to summarize, the NFL doesn’t let you take part in innocuous behavior, but gaslighting is okay.

 

For me, the camel’s back began to buckle at the beginning of last year when one player decided that he wasn’t “going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”  The player continued.  “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

 

One would assume he was talking about the events in Ferguson, MO., which was perceived by many as blue on black crime.

 

Just to summarize, blue on black crimes are oppressive, and by extension one should not stand for the National Anthem.

 

I’m still trying to understand how the two are related.  Maybe it’s a result of my white privilege, however I tend to think my common sense has a greater role in the deliberations.

 

I don’t buy General Motors vehicles because the government propped them up when they made poor decisions.

 

I don’t patronize businesses or other entities which I know provide funds to Planned Parenthood.  I just hope that the nacho industry (Big Nacho) doesn’t begin doing so.

 

If I choose to voice my concerns about a certain issue like blue on black crime, I’m not going to find a practice which is several steps removed (like kneeling for the National Anthem) in which to make my statement.

 

Case in point.  I’m really, really tired of receiving junk mail from Spectrum.  I get something from them every two weeks.  I’ve called them several times about it, and they just won’t cut it out.  I don’t even subscribe to their service.  The mere fact that I have a physical address is the only reason they continue to harass me with shredder fodder.

 

To protest this growing concern, I’m going to stop buying cream cheese for my bagels.

 

I love the stuff, but something has to give.  Spectrum has to get the message, and refusing to buy or use cream cheese is going to start a national dialogue on the matter.

 

To what end?

 

Think about that.

 

The NFL plays the National Anthem before all games, and encourages all players to stand for it.  Without saying so much, they are allowing their players to kneel in the process.  These players will continue to kneel until an injustice is fixed.

 

An injustice mind you, that can’t be fixed by the NFL, or the performance (or lack thereof) of the National Anthem.

 

So what is the end game?  Should the NFL stop playing the National Anthem?  What good will that do for those players, fans, and politicians who choose to protest it?  If the National Anthem is stopped, what other ways will the players employ to voice their concerns about our societal woes?  What good will that do for the players, fans, and politicians who would rather have it played?

 

Guess where the NFL is in all of this mess.

 

 

For what it’s worth, I don’t believe the President was correct for inserting himself into the discussion.  It’s not his job to dictate how the private sector treats its employees.

 

I personally would rather have the National Anthem played, and properly respected.  It seems like the only opportunity we have to hear it and stand for it lately is at sporting events, so keep it in there.

That being said, I’m here today to announce that I’m going to stay on point with my principled, non-hypocritical paradigm.  The NFL is being relegated to its proverbial room without supper this weekend in my world.  I will not watch any games or seek out details on who won and lost.  I will not participate in my fantasy league this week.  I will not imbibe beverages, adult or otherwise, from the team tumblers which grace my kitchen cupboard.  I will not don any of my jerseys, t-shirts, or hats this week.  I will not patronize the sponsors I know of who regularly buy advertising time during the games.  I currently have a promotional NFL package on my non-Spectrum cable TV that I don’t have to pay for until next year.  The operative word there is ‘currently’.  I was going to have it removed at the end of the season.  I’m going to have it removed now.

 

I’ve opted to take these steps this week in order to send the NFL a message that I don’t appreciate its behavior.  It may be a silent message, it may be a loud one.  I think it depends on how many other fans share my point of view.

 

Obviously, I need an end game too.  At what point would I be willing to return as a fan?

 

Easy.

 

Don’t show me who’s kneeling.

 

The NFL has agreements or rules with the networks not to broadcast shenanigans on the field.  Whenever fans or non-NFL personnel get on the field so as to display their nekid glory or some other message, the networks don’t broadcast it.

 

Put the same rule in place for the National Anthem.  Focus the camera either on the person singing the National Anthem, the flag on the field, or the military fly-over taking place up above.

 

Don’t show me the political statements going on at the same time.  This gives me an opportunity to hear and respect the National Anthem without hearing of or seeing all of the noise on the side.

 

The alternative is that the NFL dispense with its hypocrisy.

 

Let them kneel or put their hands up in misdirected protest.  PS:  They already allow it, and I’ll generally stop watching all together.

 

Lose the dress code to let players wear patriotic cleats, law enforcement stickers, and unsanctioned pink undergarments for breast cancer awareness.

 

Reinstitute the Ickey Shuffle in the end zone and demand a vertical minimum on the Lambeau Leap.

 

Something has to give.

 

I don’t see where the NFL will institute my suggestion of not broadcasting the protests.

 

I don’t see where the NFL will dispense with their hypocrisy.

 

I don’t see the protests stopping.

 

I don’t see myself patronizing the NFL anytime soon.

Randy Tharp

TharpSter is a husband to one woman, a father to two kids, a master to two dogs, an occasional cubical occupant, and unable to make up his mind on an adequate theme for this website.

One thought on “Standing Up

  1. Excellent article. I agree. I was thinking yesterday how it would be nice just to see the singer or the flag during the anthem. Let them protest. I don’t care. Just show me the flag.

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