Players within the NFL are attempting to ruin the great sport of football by urging the league to adopt social justice activism, and further politicizing the sport.
According to Yahoo! Sports, current and former players wrote a ten-page memo to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in August, urging him to use the league to endorse and financially support social justice activism revolving around race equality and criminal justice reform.
The memo began by lamenting the fact that players kneeling during the national anthem has been “perceived” to be viewed so negatively because of the press:
As players whom have been advocating for social justice for the past year, we appreciate the opportunity to engage with you, the league, owners, coaches and GMs to make our communities stronger. As we shared with you, the silence following our individual and collective demonstrations around the national anthem to raise awareness to racial inequality and issues surrounding criminal justice reform has been met with inconsistencies in press coverage and perceived lack of support.
They also asked the NFL to officially recognize the month of November as an activism awareness month. The support will follow the same patterns the NFL takes to recognize breast cancer awareness, and military recognition.
To counter the vast amount of press attention being referred to as the “national anthem protests” versus the large amount of grass roots work that many players around the league have invested their time and resources, we would like to request a league wide initiative that would include a month dedicated to a campaign initiative and related events. Similarly to what the league already implements for breast cancer awareness, honoring military, etc, we would like November to serve as a month of Unity for individual teams to engage and impact the community in their market.
The memo details a timeline for their activism, plans to meet with lawmakers, community involvement, and more.
The league also plans to put focus on key issues, such as “police accountability and transparency,” and “criminalizing poverty,” or that — as the memo claims — people are arrested because they’re poor.
The memo was created by Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, former Buffalo Bills wideout Anquan Boldin, and Eagles wideout Torrey Smith. Bennett and Jenkins are two players that have sat out (knelt out?) National Anthem protests in the past.
According to Yahoo! Sports, the memo came after Goodell had met with several of the players in August to discuss the matter. It is currently unknown as to just how Goodell responded to the request.
While criminal justice reform is a noble goal — at least many aspects of it can be noble, but not all — the introduction of politics into various parts of our culture has seen participation in that activity plummet. One need only look at the continuously falling viewership of the Emmys, and silver screen to see this.
The NFL is already seeing a decline in viewership as it continues to chain itself to this cause, or that activist. ESPN, a network that used to be great for keeping up with the latest in sports news, has now become a social justice mouthpiece that is declining so badly in the ratings that they had to lay off talent by the dozens.
My advice to the NFL is this: Do not engage. Just play football. That’s all we want.
If players wish to engage in activism off the field, then that’s great! They can use their platform to voice whatever opinion they wish. But when we’re there to watch football, hear about football, and talk about football, the last thing we want to hear are your opinions on why you think the police are racist.