Tag Archives: NFL

Sitting in Defiance

I have been reading the news and the opinions of many bloggers and pundits who have weighed in on the great Kaepernick scandal of 2016. It seems Mr. Kaepernick, quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, refused to stand for the national anthem at the last preseason game, drawing the ire of many who felt he was disrespecting the country. Kaepernick claimed he was sitting out of protest, stating “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people…” Many liberals support him while many conservatives want his head on a pike, which is the expected dichotomy in such a situation. Polemics is always a binary thing where compromise is impossible.

In the past eight years, the country has experienced a shift from the middle to extremes. Liberals are complaining that the president they supported is not liberal enough while conservative complain that he is too far to the left. Social issues that were once polite water cooler discussion material are now banned from being discussed in the workplace out of fear of creating a hostile work environment. Many people are wondering why, given the historic election of a black president, the country seems more divided on the issue of race than since the civil rights movement of the sixties. Has the country created new racially motivated laws designed to segregate and oppress a certain group of people? Have businesses enacted policies to force a certain group of people to slave away their labor for free? Has congress brought back the practice of selling people on the auction block?

Somehow, I doubt it.

Citizens of this country, all citizens of all colors, enjoy more freedoms today than at any time in the country’s history. Now, more than ever, a young “man of color” can achieve anything for which he is willing to work. Yet, with all the freedoms being afforded to every citizen, people are still operating under the impression that the country is oppressing “the black man.”

This is fallacy.

This country oppresses no one. For the last 40 years, our laws have been written to be as inclusive as the language will allow and in some cases, the language was altered to make it more inclusive. Yet, even with that, people still complain that they feel excluded. Unfortunately, there is no language to make the insane understand reality. Some people simply feel the way they feel and nothing can change that. These people feed on being a victim and if they lose that victimhood, they lose their only sense of identity.

Kaepernick was born of a white woman and a black man and adopted and raised by a white couple in a white family. He attended college and landed a slot on a professional football team. This is one of the true American dreams, especially for a “man of color.” But Kaepernick is buying into the rhetoric that the left promotes, claiming that blacks are still oppressed by “the system.” The only system Kaepernick should worry about is the one that sent him to college and pays him millions of dollars to play a game.

Media rhetoric is fueled by the tensions surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement and the anti-police sentiment that erupted out of protests of cops shooting black suspects. The media crafted a narrative that white cops are intentionally targeting and gunning down black men simply because they are black. This has been proven a false claim and in every incident, grand juries have not found the police guilty of any crime. Every “poor young man of color” that was shot by the police was in the process of breaking a law and resisting arrest. Even other allegations of police malfeasance are based on cases whereby a citizen is intentionally antagonistic towards the police. If one goes looking for trouble, one should not be surprised when one finds it.

There is no systemic black oppression going on in this country. Hasn’t been for decades. Are there prejudiced people out there who dislike blacks? Of course there are. There always will be. But there is no law or policy that directs the oppression of the black people…or any other people, for that matter. Except maybe for Christians. There are laws and cases in the courts targeting Christians. So, Kaepernick, why don’t you sit down in protest over the anti-Christian movement and Christian oppression? At least that’s a real and documented thing.

Should Kaepernick be forced to stand for the national anthem? No. Should he have stood? Yes. Was he a dick for sitting? Definitely. In this country, however, we have freedom of expression. If citizens wish to make statements in protest, they can do that. The 19th century English author Evelyn Beatrice Hall once wrote in expressing the beliefs of Voltaire, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” This is the foundation of our freedom of speech as enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution. Freedom of protest is a right that is protected. Kaepernick cannot be arrested nor fined by the government for sitting in protest during the playing of the national anthem. It is his right.

Just as it is his right to be an asshole.

I will not rehash what many conservative pundits have said about how men have died to protect that freedom and the wars fought to give him that freedom, but suffice to say his sitting is a slap in the face to all patriots and all those who have sacrificed for this country. Yes even the black men. It is also a slap in the face to the civil rights movement. If someone intentionally offends a group of people, that person should face consequences. I’m not saying he should be arrested or fined by the government. That would be a violation of his first amendment rights. But the NFL could fine him. The 49ers could bench him. The fans could refuse to attend 49er games out of protest. The manager could put him on waivers. None of these consequences violate the first amendment.

Kaepernick said “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” Now, that is his opinion and he is entitled to it. Clearly, he does not understand that these policemen did not commit murder, they acted in self defense. But Kaepernick has swallowed the media lie hook, line, and sinker and bought into the whole systemic oppression fallacy, like so many liberals have.

He needs to be educated, and a fine from the NFL would hopefully do just that. Don’t expect it to, however. The NFL is anti police anyway. Just ask the Dallas Cowboys, who were denied by the NFL when asking to honor fallen police officers killed during a mass shooting.

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Conflicting Interests and the Big Game

Another Super Bowl is done and despite the herculean last minute efforts by both teams, the game came down exactly as the prognosticators (read Vegas bookies) predicted it would. Funny how that happens. I’m not a big sports fan—never have been—and I usually only watch the teams for which I root. Since I live in Houston, I root for the Texans. Any other teams, I really couldn’t care less how they play or who they play and I rarely watch the games. In fact, I rarely watch the Texans because I have noticed that they lose the games when I watch. Of course, they lose the games I don’t watch too, so I’m not sure my strategy of support is working. It’s a moot point now anyway, as the Texans didn’t even make the playoffs this year. While the game had its intrigue, there are other shows on TV with more interest for me.

When I was younger, I watched the Super Bowl because my friends all did and I wanted to be able to talk about it with them the next day at school. This was before it became acceptable to miss work or school the day after the Big Game. Then, I watched primarily for the commercials, because the creativity if the commercials airing during the game were far superior to the regular commercials we were subjected to.

I spend most weekends, to my wife’s eye-roll, clearing out the week’s worth of recording on the DVR. Shows I missed because we were out, or because they aired opposite something else we watched or because the show came on after we went to bed tend to pile up. So, we were binge watching Unforgettable Sunday up until about 7ish. Once we finished the episode, I flipped over to the Super bowl just in time for the Half Time show. I thought the game started at 7, so I was a little disappointed that I missed the first half, not because I wanted to see the plays, but rather because I was expecting to see the commercials.

I’m not the world’s biggest Katy Perry fan. I have some of her music in the library, but there are only 2 or 3 songs of hers that I like, because I am not a teeny-bopper and I am male. Michelle holds her in slightly less esteem than I, even though we both acknowledge that she has an amazing voice and, if she wanted to, she could successfully sing much more mature songs very well. That having been said, I was very impressed with her Half Time show. It was a very elaborate and visually stunning technical achievement that used mechanics, pyrotechnics and holographics to accentuate the musical performance. One of the best aspects of the show, however, was that Katy actually SANG the songs, rather than merely dancing around half-naked to a pre-recorded track like Beyonce’s show last year. Big kudos to the half time show.

After the show, the second half started and I watched a couple of plays from both offenses and was impressed with the way the Seahawks were handling the Patriots in those few minutes of gametime. They stopped the drive with an interception and drove down the field for a touchdown to take a ten-point lead. I liked the way the running back fought through the line to get the yardage rather than falling down like a lot of modern players do these days. Impressive. Then it was time to switch over to something more interesting: Downton Abbey.

While the game I did see was good, and from all reports, the rest of the game was just as good, I had no dog in this hunt. I couldn’t get behind either team in this contest. Since Michelle and I have both become mad Downton Abbey addicts, we would rather watch Robert and Cora try to manage their wayward daughters while Mr and Mrs. Bates avoid a prison term for murder and Carsen and Mrs. Hughes flirt with each other in a stiff, starchy British way. It is the one show that exists on TV Michelle will look forward to watching.

Now that the football season is over for the next two weeks or so (there are those for whom the season never ends) I can look forward to watching shows when the schedule says they are going to start, rather than waiting for the game delays that mess up my DVR recording schedule.

If someone can successfully convince me that the NFL has gone back to the pure love of the game playing and officiating that isn’t predetermined by bookies and league officials, I may start watching games again. Maybe. Then again, maybe not. Depends if Downton Abbey is on opposite.

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How Do You Get To The Super Bowl?

The elaborate sensation that is the superbowl is touted as the culmination of America’s dream, if you listen to the NFL-sponsored, celebrity-voiced spots that introduce the game. Only the best teams get to the championship (just ignore the season stats for those other teams with better records)and the NFL spends tons of money hyping the event. Cities spend millions trying to win the honor of hosting the game with the hopes of generating even more in tourist revenue from fans that come to watch it. The Networks spend millions on broadcasting rights and technology to bring it into everyone’s home and then charge millions in airtime for the commercials. Everyone invests huge amounts of time and energy—except, it seems, the artists who sing the national anthem. In case you didn’t hear it, Christina Aguilera messed up the anthem.

In the midst of near record breaking winter storms across the nation and government changes in the middle east, America focuses its collective attention on something much more important and socially relevant: the superbowl (if you believe the hype). Now celebrating its 45th anniversary, the NFL championship game continues to garner more and more of the nation’s otherwise short attention span each year. Where once we just watched the game and it was over in just over two hours (this was before commercial timeouts), Sunday’s exhibition took the better part of the day with programming starting at noon and continuing until almost 9 pm from the pregame show through the game and the postgame festivities. There is also the halftime show which is another matter entirely, and the commercials which have become events all their own.

With all this attention, it seems that the artist given the honor of kick-starting the event by singing the National Anthem—our nation’s song, that song that represents all that our country can be—would want to turn in a performance worthy of the honor. Most people who are called upon to speak or sing or perform or whatever would do something to make certain their performance was as good as it could be like, oh I don’t know, perhaps practice? Or how about actually learning the lyrics of the song? The National Anthem has become something of a joke at sporting events it seems because of how often it is messed up by celebrity performers.

The tradition of singing the anthem is an old one and it happens at every professional and most semi-pro sporting events, where it is sung by local singers from high schools or churches or even locals artists. Even a three-year-old turned in a spectacular performance. These renditions are almost always done right, whereas the professional singers don’t seem to get it. Perhaps they think that, because they are celebrities, they don’t need to rehearse. Christina, perhaps you should have actually rehearsed. Maybe the instead of asking some big name celeb to sing the anthem, the NFL should actually hold auditions for the job. Artists should be lining up and vying for the chance to perform this significant song.

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Why Watch the Game?

Football! Just that word congers images of stadiums full of loud, screaming fans doing the wave and chanting fight songs and cheers and tailgate parties and beer and cheerleaders in skimpy outfits and big, brawny men in tight, padded, colorful uniforms. It is a uniquely American event (Canada is in North America, so they count) that many of our European friends don’t understand. They think our football is a joke compared to their football (which we call soccer), but the joke must be on them, because I doubt their country has as much money invested in the sport as the NFL earns in rights assignments alone. But I don’t want to get into money or the league.

I just want to talk about football. The game. The Big Game. The game that fans actually allocate time to watch. People set schedules around the kickoff. Vacations are planned with home team home stands in mind. People make college choices based on the football program and even decide on where to live based on the team representing the city. I actually heard someone say that they couldn’t move to a city that didn’t have a professional football team. People paint their faces and bodies with their team colors just to sit home and watch the game on the TV—speaking of which, people invest thousands of dollars for the latest start-of-the-art HDTVs just to watch the big game.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’m not a big football fan. Actually, I’m not much of a sports fan at all. Believe it or not, I can take it or leave it. I don’t follow the stats, I don’t even follow the scores or the bowl races. I know the names of the marquee players only because they are in the news (for whatever reason be it drugs, rape, felony convictions). No, I don’t care about most teams at all, but I do follow the Home teams. The Astros (if they are in the pennant race) the Rockets (if they are winning) and the Texans (as long as I don’t watch them). In fact, I can’t watch any sporting event if I care about the outcome—and that is the real reason I’m not a fan.

When I was a little kid, oh maybe 10 or 11, I was at school and trying (maybe a little too hard) to fit in. The guys I wanted to hang out with were standing around at recess talking football. Now, I had played PeeWee league football with the youth association teams (which consisted of sitting on the bench most of the time and running where I was told to run the few times I was allowed on the field) but I did not know anything about football. I didn’t know the whole series-of-downs paradigm (what was a first down and why was it better than a fourth?), I didn’t know what a safety was, nor did I understand touchback. I did know that a touchdown was a good thing, but why was it 6 points instead of 1?

Well, you can see that trying to worm into a conversation with this level of expertise was a futile gesture, but I was not to be dissuaded. They were talking about the upcoming weekend’s matchup between the Cowboys of Dallas and the Pittsburg Steelers. One young man was saying that the Steelers were favored to win while another was saying that Roger Staubach could beat the Steelers blindfolded. Now I knew that Dallas was in Texas and Texas had cowboys and I preferred to be a cowboy rather than an Indian since Indians got shot, and all I knew about Pittsburg was that it was on the east coast and I’d never lived anywhere close to there.

So, I chimed in and said with an authority that belied my experience that the Cowboys would surely beat the Steelers easily. Well, you can only imagine the conversation as it went from there. “Nu-uh. Uh-huh. Nu-uh. Uh-huh,” ad nauseum until the fateful words leapt from the young man’s mouth: “Wanna Bet?” Well, I was no pushover, but then again, I was no Kenny Rodgers either. “What?”

“I bet five dollars that the Steelers beat the Cowboys.” Let me take a second to put that in context. This game was Superbowl 10. In 1976, 5 dollars was roughly equivalent to 20 bucks today. To an 11-year-old, it might as well be a hundred. So, needless to say, I took the bet. I didn’t have the money and I didn’t understand gambling, so it was a chance to get five dollars; more importantly, it was a chance to be accepted.

That was the first football game I actually watched from start to end that I actually cared who won. It was the first game that I followed play by play, even though I didn’t understand the intricacies of the game. It was the game that taught me many lessons about sports, games, football and gambling. In case you were wondering, the Cowboys lost that game when Roger Staubach threw an end-zone interception as time expired; and more importantly, I lost that bet.

I was devastated. How could I face those guys at school? And more importantly, where was I going to get five dollars? Thankfully, my mother loaned me the five, and something happened at school that I didn’t expect. I could actually talk about the game with these guys. I remembered the plays (though I didn’t know the players other than Staubach and Bradshaw) and could discuss the game with some knowledge.

Later in life, I became a fan of the Oilers, which was an exercise in frustration. Though they had a superbowl-caliber team with Dan Pastorini and Earl Campbell, they never won the conference championship, despite three consecutive visits to the game. Now that I follow the Texans, it becomes clear that I cannot watch a game—any game—if I care about the outcome. Whenever I do, the team I am rooting for will invariably lose. I watched Arkansas play LSU and though it was a riveting game, the Razorbacks lost in overtime. My wife Michelle and I spent three hours yelling at the screen and Michelle dutifully hollered “Wooo-pig Sooie” at each kick-off. I am certain that, had we not watched, they would have emerged victorious.

So, I don’t watch sports and I don’t get invested in them—either emotionally or financially. It is not that I am an anti-sports nerd, but I just don’t want to spend that much of my time worrying about the outcome. So, if the Vikings play The Eagles, so what? If the Rockets are eliminated from playoff contention, who cares? Once I care about who wins, I will be tempted to watch, and then I have just ensured their loss.

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