Wednesday, May 23, 2018

National Anthem Rule Changes

Keeping in the tradition of handling this situation poorly, the NFL owners approved changes to the national anthem policy for 2018.


"The NFL will enact a national anthem policy for 2018 that requires players and league personnel on the sideline to stand but gives them the option to remain in the locker room if they don't want to stand, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Wednesday.Under the change approved by team owners at the Spring League Meeting, individual clubs will have the power to set their own policies to ensure the anthem is being respected during any on-field action. If a player chooses to protest on the sideline, the NFL will fine the team. The player also could be fined by his team, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Network's Judy Battista reported."
For those of you that possess the ability to act civilly enough to hear all sides of this issue, you may recall that these protests originated as a means for players-- specifically, Colin Kaepernick-- to express their frustration with the undeniable and alarming rate at which young men of color are killed by members of United States law enforcement.

It was never about the men and women that serve in our military.

It was never anti-America.

It was never even about the anthem itself.

It was a peaceful demonstration intended to call attention to a very serious issue facing our country.

In many ways, it did just that.  As more players joined Kaepernick in protest, more and more Americans were forced to discuss this sensitive issue. Unfortunately, the NFL's inaction gave way to the ignorant and willfully misinformed to commandeer the spotlight.

The discussion became about how players have no right to 'politicize' the game of football.

"Shut up and play!" became a rallying cry for the contingent of the NFL's fan base that believe that, ostensibly, the players are just slaves for their entertainment.

The ironic thing about that is prior to 2009, the players were kept in the locker room during the playing of the national anthem.  Sometime after that, the Department of Defense began paying for patriotism and it was reported that "the Department of Defense paid 14 NFL teams $5.4 million from 2011 to 2014 for patriotic propaganda during NFL games."

Essentially, the NFL 'politicized' itself for financial gain.

Use of unnecessary, excessive force, particularly against young men of color, is an extremely troubling issue that should not be swept under the rug. Especially if the lyrics we sing during the national anthem hold any meaning to you.

The NFL failed miserably when it came to acknowledging the premise of these protests. I do not purport having the answers as to how we solve, move on and grow from this complicated issue, but I know enough to understand that you don't just ignore these types of issues, assuming they'll sort themselves out.

My lone criticism of Kaepernick and the protesting base is that they have tied this issue directly to the national anthem.  I believe it was a great vehicle for getting the message out, but once the discussion began, I would've liked to see the protests grow and mature into other forms.

There is a large contingent of those who are against these protests who are just too stupid too look past the protest action to the source of the protests. No matter how eloquently it is explained to them, they simply do not possess the wherewithal to differentiate between the issue of racial inequality and the flag & anthem.

The only way to get through to those people, or at the very least, remove them from the discussion and solution going forward, is to move on from the anthem and advance the protests and discussions to the next platform.

Again, I don't know what that is, but I trust there are greater minds than mine working towards the solution.

I love this country dearly, just as I love my Seahawks. Just as I am critical of ill-advised decisions made by the Seahawks organization, I will be critical of my country when I feel its actions aren't held to the highest standards.

That's pretty much the definition of greatness-- holding to the highest standards.

The things you love-- your country, your sports teams, your family, your children-- should not be above reproach. That is not how you get the best out of people.

If your child got caught stealing, would you hold them accountable for their actions or would you stomp your feet, scream and chastise anyone that criticized your child and their actions?

I believe America is still the best nation on Earth, but we are living in uncertain times where facts seemingly have lost their gravitas, intelligence and compassion are denigrated and considered weaknesses, and somehow, songs and symbols are more relevant and sacred than the ideals they represent.

These rule changes might quiet the conversation this upcoming season, but they do not effectively solve anything. That doesn't make America any better and it sure doesn't make the NFL look any better.

I know there will be a considerable portion of Seahawks fans that do not agree with me on this-- and that's perfectly fine-- but I hope that, if you do love this country as you claim to, you'll take a moment to consider Pete Carroll's  'Always Compete' philosophy and apply it to your patriotism.

We can be better. We need to be better.

But we first need to listen to those in our country that perhaps don't share the same positive experience that you do as an American.  Try to put yourself in their shoes before casting your judgement on their beliefs and actions and lets help make this country somewhere that all people are proud to voluntarily stand up and solute.

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