The lasting effects of NFL protests


Raiders at Redskins 9/24/17

JP Blasi, Sports Editor

Social media posts, players on covers of magazines, hot takes from sports commentators. When you turn your TV on Sundays, you can’t avoid it. Players kneeling for the national anthem has swept the nation by storm. And while it has been highly debated: you can’t necessarily tell the players to stop.

Players are exercising their first amendment rights, to protest inequality towards African-Americans. While some believe the players are disrespecting the flag or the country, that isn’t the intent of the protest. The protest is not towards Trump, or the military, or the flag. In fact, a lot of veterans are supportive of the movement. As reported by Channel 8 WOODTV, “As a veteran I fought for their right to do that,” said Rick Cable, U.S. Air Force Veteran.

Peacefully protesting the injustices toward African-Americans is exercising a right that heroes of the military have provided. NFL players understand this. Eric Reid, safety for the San Francisco 49ers, said, “It baffles me that our protest is still being misconstrued as disrespectful to the country, flag and military personnel,” he wrote. “We chose it because it’s exactly the opposite. It has always been my understanding that the brave men and women who fought and died for our country did so to ensure that we could live in a fair and free society, which includes the right to speak out in protest.”

From an NFL owner’s perspective, it is easy to understand the dissatisfaction with the protests. While the players undoubtedly have a right to free speech, the owners have an equal right to take action on players hurting the business. The NFL has brought the conundrum upon themselves. For years, the executives in the league have tried everything they can to tie the feeling of “patriotism” to the sport. Alternate military “Salute to Service” jerseys are sold, air force/military flyovers occur pre-game, and beer/food sponsorships tying in camo and America have all been pushed by the NFL. The NFL doesn’t really care about these player’s political views or whether fans are upset or cheering for the protest. They care about money. When the kneeling affects the revenue from military or patriotic sponsorships and merchandise, then it won’t be allowed.

There are political and economics pros and cons the protests. Don’t get the message twisted – these players are protesting for unity and equality in this great country. But don’t be surprised if it affects players’ jobs, opportunities, or salaries as well.