The start of the preseason for the National Football League coincided with a massive racial riot in Charlottesville, Virginia. Perhaps this was a coincidence, but maybe not. However, now the deadly incident has set a precedence of protest before every football game this season.
What happened in Charlottesville reignited the fire that Colin Kaepernick started last season, that many America-loving sports enthusiasts wished went away with this racist player. Several pro sports players have already proven their intent to mix politics with the game.
After a weekend of protests both on and off the field, the league commissioner, Roger Goodell, came forward at the start of this week to set the tone for the season. Rather than condoning these divisive actions that have no place in sports, he put the problem on the fans to be more “understanding” of the message these millionaire athletes think they are sending about oppression.
Since he wouldn’t take a stand and stop this before it spiraled out of control, it became up to each individual team coach to decide what to do to protect their organization.
A wave of backlash is coming from fed-up fans who want to watch a game and not a stupid protest. Many spectators have already sworn off this football season by boycotting the game since the commissioner refuses to stop the sideline antics.
Although a couple coaches have spoken out against these anti-American antics (Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers), there are some who are siding with the point that these protesting athletes want to make.
The New York Jets’ Coach Todd Bowles supports this message and has even gone as far as to enable players who want to protest by stating a new National Anthem “rule.”
Although no Jets player has indicated a desire to protest at games, their coach has taken a preemptive approach to say if they want to do so, they are more than welcome to – he’s not going to stop them.
The “rule” is that there essentially isn’t one stopping highly-paid professional athletes on this team from doing whatever they choose. There should be since they are part of a team and their actions affect the group as well as the business.
New York Jets coach Todd Bowles will not stand in the way of any of his players protesting during the national anthem.
No Jets players have indicated that they would opt to not stand during the performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” as then-San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick did last season. But Bowles made it clear that those actions would be each player’s prerogative.
“It’s their individual right,” the coach said after practice Wednesday. “We don’t have a rulebook on what’s right to protest and not protest. You don’t know those things until the course of time, whether it’s sitting for the anthem, whether it’s raising your fist, whether it’s speaking out, whether it’s the Walk to Washington who is to say whose protest is good or bad?”
Bowles is correct that it’s each person’s right to protest if they wish or make whatever statement publicly that they feel is important. However, that’s not the issue with players protesting in a sport. With the position they are given, they have a responsibility as a role model. Have an opinion, but don’t disrespect our flag and country that real heroes have died to protect.
Bowles clearly sees it differently as he explained later in his interview on the matter.
“As a football team, politics and people are human — they’re part of it — so you can’t say what’s good or bad,” Bowles said, according to WHIO. “I’m sure mostly everybody — I know I’m against racism, segregation, and all that other stuff — but how do we come to an answer? I don’t have that answer. How do we come to a common ground? I don’t have that answer.”
The coach then contradicted himself in saying that the debate on this issue “needs to stop.” Stopping the debate does not mean encouraging one side by giving players free reign to protest – that only perpetuates the problem.
“It’s a hell of a debate and a hell of a topic. It needs to stop,” Bowles said. “I don’t have the answers to that, but who is to say whose protest is good or bad? That’s just the way they feel and that’s their right to express it.”
They can make their statements any way they please off the field since it’s selfish to use their platform in this way. It compromises the reputation of the team, franchise, and maybe even some sponsors. Just as most employees can’t express their divisive opinions in the workplace, sports stars are no different.