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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

On Bended Knee: Boycott the NFL


The current situation regarding Kaepernick and his role in the NFL is twofold: punishment by removing his platform, used to confront social justice issues, or justice by asking the NFL higher-ups to resist punishment.

If the clear majority of Black and Brown people in America do not boycott the National Football League this upcoming season, then we are lost as a people.

Colin Kaepernick, a professional athlete and multimillionaire, willingly stood for all Black and Brown folks last season while, simultaneously, having his best individual season, statistically speaking, since 2014.

Kaepernick, unlike so many others standing on similar platforms, saw the blood on the hands of the very people sworn to give us justice, rather than the complete opposite. Kaepernick heard the hypocrisy in our national anthem. And he looked at our nation’s flag and asked how our government could stand by the claim of “home of the free” when people of color are still treated like slaves. Now, I’m not a statistics guy like some sports fans, probably because math and teachers with bad breath traumatized me in my formative years, but the numbers do not lie:

12 games started (out of 16). 331 pass attempts. 196 pass completions. 59.2 passing percentage. 2,241 in passing yards. 186.8 pass yards per game. 16 pass touchdowns. 4.8 passing yard percentage. 4 interceptions. 90.7 passing rate. 69 rushing attempts. 5.8 rush attempts per game. 468 rushing yards. 39 rush yards per game. 2 rushing touchdowns.

In layman’s terms, Kaepernick is a good NFL quarterback (and, at one point, was on track to being a great one a few years ago). Say what you will about him, that “he lost too much weight over the last two years,” or “he’s a coach and coordinator killer,” or “his work ethic is nonexistent,” and “he’s anti-police, anti-military, anti-American, and pro-Castro.”

However, because the NFL and team owners are running a business based on providing entertainment to fans and selling merchandise (both its own and sponsors), it is becoming very clear what takes precedence over gross acts of zealotry and egregious losses of life.

No matter what various public interest commercials may claim, the NFL’s business is football. While the NFL does support various worthy causes seeking to better society, those causes are secondary to the league’s goal of making money through football.

Kaepernick’s actions were hugely unpopular with the rank-and-file NFL fans, whose money funds the league’s coffers. And though Kaepernick’s level of play has regressed over the years due to injuries and personnel changes, he is still good enough to fill a slot on an NFL roster.

Now we have a situation where one side is demanding punishment against Kaepernick (in the form of taking away the very platform he stood on to confront injustice) while the other side is demanding justice (in the form of pleading to the powers that be to resist the kneejerk reaction to tear down a man–and those who would follow now and in the future–for asking for justice).

It remains to be seen which voice will be the loudest in the end. As we all know, money talks in a very convincing way. But we also know that political pressure, when formed properly, can be deafening. With the NFL 2017 season fast approaching, the recent calls for an all-out black NFL boycott by civil rights activists, police officers, sports analysts, and fans nationwide has gained steam.

In the end, it’s to each his own. However, I, for one, will not enrich the NFL owners with my continued viewership this upcoming NFL season. With a league that is 68-70% black, I am curious to see if NFL stadiums will remain flooded with screaming fans of all colors. Will it be like the Obama conventions, packed and diverse, or like Trump’s inauguration turnout, which was, let’s say, not packed and not diverse?

To those planning on uninterrupted NFL games this fall, I won’t hold it against you. I’ll miss rooting for the Patriots (GO PATS!), bashing Roger Goodell, and laughing at the joke of competition that is the rest of the league. But, in the spirit of A. Philip Randolph, I will say this:

“If you are comfortable with my oppression, then you are my oppressor.”