The players of the NFL continue to disrespect our country by refusing to stand for the National Anthem at their ball games. Last week the Cleveland Browns circled around each other rather than standing. The police union responded by stating that they would not be carrying the flag if the players were not going to stand. Everyone has their opinion – including myself – about the players.
Some have suggested that they be fired immediately or somehow be forced to stand and recognize our flag. Some have suggested that all the fans boycott the games, the television productions, the shirt sales, and every money-making effort carried out by the NFL until they rectify the situation. Some have suggested doing nothing and let it blow over. Others have suggested leaving them alone because they have the freedom of expression.
And freedom is the key to their entire shenanigans. They do have the freedom to disagree. They do have the freedom to protest and mock the very ones who have protected them. They have the freedom to make a gazillion bucks a year to play a game while the military and police who protect and serve them make a fraction of their annual salary.
One of the coaches stated that the players protesting were highly encouraged to make commitments to their communities and to give back. He went on to state that while they were doing that very thing they noticed the disparities and unfairness and that is what they are protesting. What??? A mega millionaire goes into a poverty neighborhood and notices the disparities? What about when he was growing up? Did he notice then? Did he notice others or was he taught that only he and his family were done wrong? Did he notice that kids whose parents worked didn’t get scholarships or handouts? No one bought them fancy shoes or athletic gear either. That in fact, when it came time for college ball many did not get to play or even go to class because there are NO scholarships for kids whose parents work or who are not considered a minority.
Did these players realize that many service men and women whom they are disrespecting are the very kids who grew up around them in junior high and high school but did NOT receive the handouts and scholarships that would insure they ended up a mega millionaire playing a game for work?
Where is our perspective? Thousands of kids of all races and ethnicities are in foster care. Homeless shelters are jammed tight. Soup kitchens are overrun. Children are abused by the minute. Hate is rampant in our streets. And yet, mega-millionaires are offended because they are asked to stand for the very flag which grants them the freedom to do so.
I have no solution other than the mirror. What have these players done to alleviate the problems? What have they done personally? And I don’t mean with their money. What have they done to promote integrity? What have they done to promote fairness? What do their lives reflect about goodness and honesty? It is difficult to tell when primarily the news surrounding NFL players is about domestic abuse, criminal abuse, shootings, drunken episodes ending in car wrecks or murder. What have these players done to be role models for their young fans? The same fans they are so worried and distressed about?
Perhaps we all need to look in the mirror instead of pointing fingers. Perhaps we need to ask ourselves these very questions. What have we done to improve the lives of others? Have we honored our military? Have we honored our teachers and supported them? Have we helped a child in need? Have we lived a life of integrity?
Maybe they could pipe the Michael Jackson song, Man in the Mirror, over the PA at the NFL games from now on.
“I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change”