NFL patriotism: your tax dollars at work

Marino Dominguez, Staff Writer

The world of sports and politics have collided many times Whether it be through social media or on the playing field, professional athletes have used their platform to express their political and social ideals.

Recently, players kneeling and locking arms during the national anthem is a common sight in the NFL.

Pioneered by former 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick, kneeling began as a protest to police brutality and oppression towards African Americans.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Colin Kaepernick said in an exclusive interview with NFL Media.

When Kaepernick did so in 2016, former President Barack Obama felt as though Kaepernick was utilizing his right to free speech. “There are gonna be a lot of folks who do stuff we don’t agree with…but as long as they’re doing it within the law, then we can voice our opinion objecting to it, but it’s also their right,” Obama said during a CNN Town Hall in September 2016.

In a time of great animosity, and a new commander in chief, those words may have been more comforting than ever.

But that didn’t happen. That didn’t even remotely happen.

President Donald Trump went on the offensive last Friday, calling on all NFL owners to fire all players that kneel during the national anthem.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired!” Trump said.

Yes, our President just called peaceful protesters “Sons of Bitches.”

Trump’s response led to nearly every team displaying some form of protest during the anthem on Sunday, be it kneeling, sitting, locking arms or even staying in the locker room. Many team owners joined their teams on the sidelines to show their disapproval of President Trump’s comments. Even Trump’s NFL owner “friends” he mentioned in his speech were not happy with his comments.

Trump did the one thing nearly every president didn’t have the “you know what’s” to do: mess with the big, bad, country-ruling National Football League. This multi-billion dollar business is the heart of America, the great unifier of this great nation. For years, the one thing the majority can agree on. We all love football.

This is drama that could have been avoided years ago. Before 2009, NFL players never came out to stand for the national anthem. Players simply stayed in the locker room until the anthem was over and ran out on the field. Fans cheering, no soldier’s family crying. Football was played without distractions.

But in 2009, The Department of Defense and National Guard began paying the NFL, along with several other sport leagues, millions of dollars to have players come out and stand for the anthem, made public after it was featured in a senate report by senators John McCain and Jeff Flake. Over $53 million dollars was disbursed, $11.1 million going to the NFL. This act is called “Paid Patriotism,” and it is based on the theory that if people see their favorite athlete being patriotic, they will too want to be patriotic.

Oh, and by the way, that is taxpayers dollars being spent — all $53 million of it.

So, the real question in judgment isn’t if players should kneel during the national anthem, but if the government should be paying private organizations to promote our Department of Defense or our military.