Like millions of other ungrateful, unpatriotic Communist sympathizers, I watched a lot of the NFL this week. Like millions of others, I metaphorically knelt at the altar of televised professional football which as George Will once wrote so poetically, is nothing more than “violence punctuated by committee meetings”, the two worst things about America. During the games, I realized there may be a third worst thing about America – our inability to see and discuss genuine issues.
Roger Goodell is leading the charge to pretend that players kneeling during the anthem and their underling reasons for taking this action do not exist; or if they do exist, should be kept invisible to the 30+ percent of fans who voted for Trump and the 32 team owners who vote for their own bottom line profits every weekend (even during bye weeks). His solution was ingenious and for that, I tip my cap. Goodell decided every player should wear some camouflage, rendering them impossible to see. Brilliant!
As we all know, camouflage serves two purposes. First, it provides most Americans something to wear to Costco on the weekends. Second, it hides the wearer from sight so they cannot be attacked. Now asking players alone to wear invisibility cloaks of camo would be too transparent (pun intended), so Goodell did the smart thing. He made the cheerleaders don the camouflage too. It’s not as exciting watching the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders while they dance and strut when all we can see now is a disembodied mass of glitter make up, but hey – successfully hiding protesters from public view is a small price to pay. There’s always YouTube if you really need to see the latest dance moves.
Even the coaches and staff are getting into the camo trend. Seeing less of Bill Belichick is a bonus, I must admit, but I digress.
Goodell isn’t satisfied that disguising the players is sufficient to solve his PR problem. He’s now floating the idea of keeping the players/protesters/ungratefuls in the locker rooms until after the anthem has been sung and our show of global air superiority has sailed over the stadium. Can’t protest during the anthem if you aren’t on the field for the anthem. Too bad for Goodell. Cleveland has already tried keeping any good players in the locker room for entire games, and that hasn’t turned out very well for them. Not sure keeping players in the locker rooms will improve public relations but it does accomplish one important goal – pretends the issues of systemic racial bias in our law enforcement practices and in our criminal justice system remains locked away, outside of public view.
Silent, non-disruptive symbolic protests on the sidelines during a 60 second song will not ruin America, nor will they address the underlying challenges we still face as a country. But it has started a conversation, and we should continue to face the issue, not cover it up.
As a nation, we can look squarely at the issue of systemic racial bias in our law enforcement practices and in our criminal justice system, or we can camouflage the issues and pretend they don’t exist. The NFL has chosen the latter.