The First Amendment is a beautiful thing. Thanks to our freedom of speech, athletes have the freedom to protest by taking a knee, and as consumers, we all have the freedom to protest by boycotting NFL if we don’t agree with it.
These are all political statements that we are free to make. But just because we are free to make a political statement does not mean those statements are justified or even logical.
And using discernment to determine where we land on this very divisive issue is important. As such, it can be helpful to look at some of the context around this nuanced issue.
Since 2009, the Department of Defense has financially contributed to the NFL. This means that millions of dollars in taxpayer funding have gone directly to the NFL as a marketing strategy for the United States military, to increase recruitment, etc. And in return for the sponsorship, pre-game American flag and military aircraft displays have become more common, and, yes, the NFL began requiring players to be on the sidelines during the national anthem.
Therefore, while some claim that kneeling during the anthem in this context is not an anti-military display, I would beg to differ. For this reason, it is important to understand why this particular form of protest is so offensive to many Americans, particularly military service men and women and their families.
Should we deny NFL players their right to protest? Absolutely not. Could President Trump have found a better, more respectful way to urge players to respect the country and our military? Of course. But the reality is that the recent tradition of NFL players observing the national anthem from the sidelines is a sign of respect for our military. And Americans certainly have the right to boycott the NFL if they are offended by #takeaknee protests.
At the end of the day, perhaps the best solution for everyone is for the Department of Defense to pull their money from the NFL. Their pro-military marketing strategy would be better received elsewhere. Plus, lets be honest– government doesn’t have the best track record of getting involved with private organizations and businesses anyway.