The NFL is a league which speaks about fairness, and patriotism, but the fact of the matter is this; its convictions are based on the numbers on the dotted line. Instead of doing what is right for Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid because it was the moral act to take, the league has been bent over backwards to settle a grievance claim launched by both players that alleged the NFL’s team owners had blacklisted them from ever playing in the professional league again as a result of the protest during the national anthem debacle.
While the settlement is seen as a victory for Eric and Colin, it’s a bad loss for not just the NFL, but professional sports in the United States. We have consistently questioned the propriety of Athletes as role models in the American society and the $64000 question now is; do they exhibit the qualities or strength of character that we would like our children to emulate?
Every action they take is analyzed and dissected, judged by sports pundits and the general society. It is most certainly an uncomfortable place to be under the spot light as the players are on a constant basis. The Kaiser Family Foundation survey reported that children look up to athletes next after their parents and because of this influence, we should be very careful who we promote as role models. And this is the reason why we need to employ the same yardstick that are used on individual players to sports teams and their billionaire owners.
Sports is a huge symbol in the life of the average American, with virtues like dedication, sacrifice, and hard work a symbol of American values. But the NFL is throwing the baby with the bath water when it refuses to take a leadership stance in fighting for the constitution – and the rights of athletes like Reid and Colin – rather they chose to stick their tail between their legs, counting the dough, and afraid to offend the silly sensibilities of people who choose to put entertainment over ethics.
Jeopardizing the integrity of the sport teaches young people a poor lesson – which is particularly bad when the sport is facing such an unpredictable future. There’s been a steady decade decline in football as shown by The National Federation of High School Associations – some of which are valid fears over brain damage, another issue which the NFL has failed woefully to speak on. But there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
In January this year, the NFL – in collaboration with the Players Coalition, launched a social justice platform known as Inspire Change with emphasis on education, and public relations amongst others and they will be funding community level organizations such as Operation Hope. This is certainly a good step and we would all like to see this year as the rejuvenation of the NFL as a forerunner in supporting good values in the country.