Politics Has No Place in Football, Except for the Systematic, Government-Sponsored Deification of the Military

Every Sunday, America settles in front of the TV for a long day of NFL action. When I settle in front of the TV for a long Sunday watching NFL action, all I want to do is watch a game of football, as well as the massive ceremony beforehand highlighting and showcasing uniformed members of the United States armed services, and put all my everyday concerns about the economy and healthcare and what have you to one side for a few hours. Nowadays, though, even that seems like too much to ask. On Sunday, we saw NFL players across the country kneel during the regularly-scheduled, stadium-spanning pregame displays of our nation’s regalia we have come to unquestioningly accept, utterly disrespecting everything that these same displays purposefully reinforce as unconditionally deserving of our respect. I’m sick of politics interfering in the sport I love—at least when that politics doesn’t serve the relentless promotion of the United States military and its actions—and I know I’m not the only one.

I wish we could go back to the days when the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” was all about the tightly choreographed unit of uniformed soldiers extending a massive American flag across the playing field while jet fighters rocketed overhead in formation, not the players quietly taking a knee on the sidelines. Back then, we all held our hands over our hearts and treated the Stars and Stripes with due respect, justifying the millions of dollars and man-hours the Pentagon has poured into ensuring that similar ceremonies occur before every NFL game, and indeed just about every major American sporting event. But in today’s divided America, it seems we can’t have a single propagandistic effort to associate sports with patriotic fervor without someone on the sidelines insulting the very country that got them there in the first place.

Frankly, I’m tired of seeing this crap interfere with my country’s systematic attempts to instill in me a relentless, dog-like loyalty to its most imperialistic and authoritarian institutions. It’s time to let the NFL know that it can’t keep allowing its players to sully the government’s purposeful and coordinated hagiography of its own operatives with their intrusive, disruptive political demonstrations. It’s time to turn off the TV and boycott the NFL until the league puts its foot down. I won’t watch until all the players stand respectfully again for the ritualistic veneration of our military.

Until then, I’ll be turning to NASCAR for my sports fix.


Image in the public domain