There’s a repeated pattern I’ve seen throughout my career in political and cultural journalism. Those who introduce social justice into a thing where social justice doesn’t belong will watch that thing deteriorate before their eyes. It happened with comics and video games. It happens to movies, and shows. It happens to websites and YouTube channels.

Social justice is a poison that, once introduced, works through the veins of the thing its introduced to until it becomes too toxic to touch. It’s advocates — known popularly as social justice warriors — know this for themselves, though they would use different terminology. They would say they’re bringing their subject into the current year or driving out toxic elements to make the thing better for everyone. They know that once they can inject just a little poison, they’ll have an easier time injecting the rest.

Their quest sounds noble, but in reality, it’s purely selfish. It’s the forcing of their beliefs on everyone else. They truly believe their cause to be good, or on “the right side of history” as if they were precognizant. Any rejection of their forced ideological shift on the thing in question is Kafka-esqe proof that the introduction of the poison was necessary in the first place.

To them, they are our babysitters, and we are their ignorant, crying babies who don’t know any better. They feel we need an introduction to reality by their “wokeness.”

Now the social justice crowd has infected the NFL, another place where social justice causes don’t belong. It started with Colin Kaepernick, who was rejected by both the fans and the league. Kaepernick wanted to protest America during the 2016 elections, siding with neither D or R, and saying he was bringing attention to the all the injustices toward minorities in America.

Fast forward to 2017, and now players are falling to one knee left and right for the same reasons, but as social justice advocacy demands, if you kneel for one thing you must kneel for more. Intersectionality is key for them. More poison must be introduced to infect the body even more.

On Tuesday it was revealed that aside from things like criminal justice reform and racism, players are now also kneeling for things like the consistently debunked “gender wage gap.” If the pattern keeps, soon they’ll be kneeling over the lack of sexual diversity in the NFL both on and off the field. Cheerleaders will be looked at as victims of the male gaze, and the number of white leaders in the sport will be looked at as “problematic.”

The NFL will be like every other toxic thing social justice infected. Soon a number of causes they kneel for will be a jumble of nonsense no one can put their finger on. Things should just be better, they’ll tell you when better comes, just keep doing what they say in the meantime.

As a result, no one will want to touch it, watch it, or give it any mind. It’s what happened to countless other things, and it’s already happening now. The NFL is losing viewers in the double-digit percentile. DirecTV is giving refunds to NFL ticket package customers who didn’t sign on to watch rich and famous people spit on the country they got rich and famous in.

The sad part is, the original intent for the kneeling was something I too am very much for. Criminal justice reform is a much-needed change in our country. As I’ve written before, what we consider a major criminal, and how we handle these criminals does so much harm to our society and costs us billions every year. Republicans in various states like Texas have done much to change the landscape by altering the way we look at non-violent drug offenders and minimum mandatory sentencing. Recidivism rates have dropped, and would be criminals are normal members of society.

This is superb news to those who are concerned with looking for ways to improve the black community’s interactions with the law. It’s cause for fears to lessen or dissipate. It opens the doors for more freedoms and better community standards. It’s the beginnings of a real healing process that our society needs.

But instead of drawing attention to the cure, we’re just getting the social justice poison. Continued attention is being drawn to the social justice shouting that something isn’t fair, instead of drawing attention to the fact that the solution is even now at our doorstep. Instead of fixing the problem, we’re now focusing on the fact that a bunch of NFL players are kneeling during the National Anthem, and being told that our anger is racism and just further proof that more kneeling needs to occur.

The very problems that these players concern themselves with are being driven into the shadow of their “protest.” The solutions are ready for implementation, but no one even knows they exist because the method they wanted to use to call attention to the problem is now the goal. It’s a goal that is driving eyes and ears away from them and making problem-solving an even more difficult endgame.

If NFL players want to help the problems they set out to help in the first place, they’ll stand up both on the field while the anthem plays, and continue standing in the communities they concern themselves with. They should seek solutions, not attention.

The poisonous social justice activism is not the answer. Actual justice is, and that is ready and waiting to go into action.