I have not commented previously on the latest silly controversy, that involving the NFL.
For perhaps the benefit of my UK readers, a brief explanation. This season a number of players have refused to stand for the playing of our National Anthem. League rules actually require them to do so but some have decided not to, opting instead to kneel as some sort of protest.
Exactly what is being protested is not always clear, the initial incident involved a player upset with police shootings of black individuals. Now it seems a more nebulous expression of broad spectrum disapproval.
Of course the players have First Amendment rights and this is clearly a form of peaceful protest. It would be more impressive if they were actually facing some consequences for taking an unpopular stand. You know, fines, suspension, loss of endorsement contracts, that sort of thing.
But the team owners, and so far the advertisers, have either been verbally supportive or have by their silence been tacitly supportive. This is just plain stupid on their part.
Football fans in general lean towards the conservative side of the political spectrum. Players giving offense is bad, but with the frequent scandals those guys generate - domestic abuse, substance abuse, assaults - fans have gotten a bit jaded.
But for the owners to condone this.....its gonna cost 'em. Ticket sales, overpriced merchandise, bargaining leverage with advertisers....there's gonna be pain. I don't credit athletes collectively with much in the way of smarts or an understanding of what goes on outside their coddled little bubble lives. But owners are businessmen.
Ah well, I'm not a football fan so they won't be out any of my money anyway. But there is a fan revolt brewing. When on a recent road trip through southern Wisconsin I saw this little tableau:
The signs say "We stand for the FLAG" and "No NFL here!"
In case the above photo is not clear enough, the skeletal football players are being hotly pursued by:
Pirate Zombie Skeletons with Velociraptors!
Ah, how silly you think. And besides, its Wisconsin so picking on figures wearing Vikings and Bears jerseys is just good fun. But the real evidence of a fan base revolt is stage left...
The skeleton player on the left, the one beating the hastiest retreat, is wearing a Green Bay Packers jersey. And in Wisconsin they love their Packers. But not as much as they love America.