It all started with Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the playing of the national anthem. That rankled me just as it did thousands of other NFL fans, but that wasn’t the real trigger of a full-on boycott of the NFL – at least, not for me.
No, it was when the numbers of players – primarily black players – began kneeling and/or raising a clenched fist during the anthem, that was the beginning of the end for me.
What had begun with one individual protesting “the oppression of black people” and “bodies in the street” and police “getting away with murder” was bad enough, but that was just one person and he could take the flack for his actions. But when the numbers increased and it was apparent that many of the black players were becoming activists and joining Kaepernick in making a statement about the United States oppressing black people that I became incensed in their actions.
Yes, they have every right to protest against the country if they really believe that black people are oppressed, although one shouldn’t forget that these athletes are all millionaires and are treated as icons by sports fans. No, their protests alone is not what got my dander up, it was the venue that they chose to flaunt it.
I’ve been a pro football fan for all of my adult life and remember watching the early games when they first appeared on television. I remember the American Football League and when the leagues merged. I was a fan when Vince Lombardi won Super Bowls I and II. Suffice to say, I’ve been a fan for a long time. In recent years, on average, I could expect to watch at least three games each weekend, sometimes more. I even had Cowboy season tickets several years ago. I’ve bought NFL merchandise and generally enjoyed the success of pro football.
I’ve always looked at NFL games as entertainment – an escape from my everyday world and especially looked forward to games with playoff implications leading up to the big daddy of them all – the Super Bowl.
The black activists ruined that for me.
I don’t tune in to an NFL game to watch protests and especially not by black players who make up 70% of all players. Blacks are disproportionally represented on pro football rosters – why is that if they are oppressed? They are welcome to protest at their convenience in any other venue of their choice, but when they interfere with ordinary people’s entertainment, they should expect some backlash. I think it’s also appropriate to question why they weren’t protesting in Detroit, Chicago, or Baltimore where blacks are killing other blacks in increasing numbers – that’s where their protests, channeled another way, could have had some real impact. Instead, they chose to protest police brutality against innocent blacks – hardly the country’s most pressing problem.
My personal protest has been to boycott the NFL – period. I won’t attend any games, I won’t watch any games, and I won’t buy anything with an NFL logo on it. If this is the new, “improved” NFL, I want no part of it.
For me, it’s been plain that the black players have become arrogant in their belief that they are so integral to the game, it can’t function without them and therefore they are holding all of the cards. They can do whatever they choose and neither the NFL front office nor the owners will stop them.
They were right because apparently, their protests intimidated the league office and the owners, but their equation didn’t include the sport’s fans – that’s where they made a big mistake.
The NFL Commissioner could have nipped Kaepernick’s protest in the bud the first time he knelt during the anthem. He didn’t. He had no compunctions about fining players for wearing the wrong shoes, but he took no action against the political protests. And the owners (the player’s employers) didn’t do anything either – they meekly allowed the protests to continue.
That’s when many of us disgruntled fans (by now, millions of us) said, “Enough is enough” and stopped showing up for games and not watching on television. I’ve found it interesting that statements from the Commissioner’s office ascribe the poor television ratings on everything he can think of rather than a fan backlash and noted that game attendance was stable. Of course, game attendance (according to ticket sales) was stable, the majority of them were season tickets bought and paid for before the season started. Perhaps he just didn’t notice the number of empty seats in stadiums across the country.
But the fit is about to hit the shan.
Ratings for all four NFL Wild Card playoff games last weekend were down by at least 10 percent (10, 10, 11, 21 %). I can’t predict what will happen this coming weekend when the Divisional Championships will be decided, but I for one won’t be watching.
I implore all of you who have dumped the NFL for the regular season, don’t weaken now.
And that brings me to the reason for writing this piece. If those of you who believe as I do and have been finding better ways to spend our time on Sundays and Mondays (and Thursdays), we haven’t made enough impact yet to bring about substantial and meaningful changes to the game.
There is little that we can do that will affect player’s income – their earnings are spelled out in legal contracts, but we can affect future earnings and the contracts that come due in the future.
The ONLY way to get the attention of the financial heart of the game is to affect the owners in their bank accounts and that means…
DON’T WATCH THE DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS.
DON’T WATCH THE CONFERENCE PLAYOFFS.
And DON’T WATCH THE SUPER BOWL either!
All of our boycott efforts will be wasted if the television ratings improve for the playoffs or the Super Bowl whereas, if the ratings for the biggest games of the year stink, the advertisers will pressure the owners and the networks and something will have to give.
I’m prepared to forgo professional football altogether unless drastic changes are made. College football is more exciting and every bit as satisfying anyway.
DON’T FORGET – DO NOT WATCH THE SUPER BOWL!
NOTE: I’m going to leave this post up (sticky) on Friday and Saturday prior to the Divisional Playoff games.