Today should be one of the happiest days of the year because NFL football begins tonight. I don’t even know who is playing and I won’t watch the game—not just tonight but every game for the rest of the year. The politicization of sport and the capitulation of the “privileged class” of athletes and owners to cries of social justice, Black Lives Matter, and giving credence to the ideas of “white privilege” and “systemic racism” is disappointing at least. But everybody is allowed to have an opinion including me. Everyone is allowed to act on their opinions as long as it doesn’t hurt or disrespect another person including me and many “deplorables” like me.
I love football for a number of reasons. I played for 12 years. My college career ended with an injury and not playing was one of the most difficult life transitions I ever had to make. I so respect the people who play football at all levels, but people who play professional football are special. They possess special God-given talents that are unique and unusual. They have been provided opportunities and placed in circumstances, taken personal risk—one must be brave to play football unless you are a kicker, and after all that, they have trained in ways everyday people cannot understand. It takes guts and tenacity to play football and such people need to be respected.
But far above the respect earned by football players or really anyone who leverages their talent with work and sacrifice, is the respect that everyday people deserve. Those in the military and 1st responders, and ministers and teachers and don’t forget mothers and fathers, some single with more than one child and many working two jobs to serve their own families, deserve all of our respect every bit as much as those professional athletes that are kneeling for our National Anthem. They work and sacrifice and leverage their own talents for causes far nobler than playing a football, basketball, or baseball game.
These noble people capitalize (pay for tickets and cable access) the teams and players who today are disrespecting them by kneeling for the National Anthem. The very respect they deny from their supporters they demand from society.
Respect is earned. In order to respect another, you must first respect yourself. Being respectful requires being accountable, responsible, and gracious. Gratitude for blessings and opportunities is also part of the equation. Who provided not only the opportunities, but the unique platforms for these multibillion-dollar athletes, coaches, and owners? I know the American People respect America and our Flag. WE respect ourselves. The bottom line is these pro athletes disrespect us because they don’t respect themselves.
Well, let’s start with the vision of our Founding Fathers and the sacrifices of the thousands of soldiers and Patriots that have come before us. Let’s not forget that in the history of the world there has never been a citizenry sacrifice so much for an enslaved and may I add an indentured class than the 700, 000 people who died or were unaccounted for in our civil war. And what about the thousands of Black people who died in all our wars from Bunker Hill to Afghanistan? And what about the brave civil rights marchers who crossed the Pettis Bridge in Selma Alabama in March of 1965?
What did all these brave Americans have in common? They were fighting, standing, and marching in front of The American Flag. The Flag represents something far greater than themselves. It represents an idea, a hope, and a dream. And those who believe in the American ideal, who understand that the way we live today is a direct result of the sacrifices that were made by those who came before us, and it was absolutely the ideal represented by The Flag that occasions professional athletes positions of “privilege”; are insulted and angered at anyone who is so self-absorbed and selfish, to not understand and yes respect that fact.
So for fans like me who invest total passion and allegiance in “Our Teams” I will spend my time, money, and energy in other places. You have not earned my respect even though you are great athletes who would otherwise have my respect. You have disrespected those who have come before you, including veterans including my father and grandfathers and father in law, those currently serving today, and everyday people who work to support themselves and their families. For those people who continue to support professional athletes you too have lost my respect. I know we all have a right to our opinions and free speech notwithstanding—save your money and contribute to the rescue mission or food bank. Spend game day volunteering. The world will be better in the long run if people and ideas that we all value are respected.