Will Colin Kaepernick play in the NFL in 2017-18? Are black fans angry enough over the Kap situation willing to boycott the NFL for that cause? Public Enemy’s Chuck D thinks they need to be.
“Think about it. You have owners and you have players. … [Owners] have the choice and right to do whatever they want to do in their whole colluded field,” Chuck recently said. “It’s up to the fans. … if you want to protest, don’t go to the sports bars. Don’t turn the game on. Leave your team for a year.”
So, NFL fan, where do you stand on boycotting the NFL to support Colin Kaepernick? The 2017 season, the 98th NFL season in the history of the league, will begin without the polarizing quarterback on Sept. 7. But during what is expected to be another lucrative year for the league, what will black NFL fans do about their issues and perspectives? What impact can blacks have on the NFL’s bottom line? While black fans demand field employment for Kap at $9 to $10 million a year, the NFL owners are in their booths counting out 14 billion bucks.
If any story demonstrates the different perspectives African-Americans and whites hold, it’s the saga of Colin Kaepernick, who began sitting down last season during the national anthem while a member of the San Francisco 49ers to “bring awareness” to civil rights issues. The vitriol surrounding the situation is heated, with pro-Kaepernick people screaming about him “being blackballed” and anti-Kaepernick people questioning his football ability.
Blacks think that the story is one of racism, bigotry and discrimination. Over 100 quarterbacks have signed 2017 contracts with the 32 NFL teams, yet Kap continues to sit on the sidelines. A coalition of blacks say the NFL is a “modern-day plantation” with most players being black and all the owners white.
But while blacks “protest,” the NFL continues to prosper as the world’s most lucrative sports league. The average team is worth $2.34 billion and the league has the highest TV ratings and national broadcasting revenue of any U.S. professional sports league. CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN/ABC paid $5 billion for the rights to NFL games.
If blacks stay away from stadiums — which in many instances their governments built — they won’t affect the league’s bottom line much. Local revenues (tickets, concessions, etc.) are not considered to be a major contributor to the league’s money. And assistance won’t come from the rest of the NFL’s fan base, which is overwhelmingly white and unlikely to sympathize with Kap’s plight.
So it’s time to look to NFL advertisers for assistance. Isn’t it time to tell people at Papa John’s and Pizza Hut to “think about it”? Blacks should think about telling McDonald’s, which spent $91.5 million on advertising during the 2015-2016 NFL season, to “think about things.” Hyundai, which begins a four-year-deal this season replacing GM as the NFL’s official auto brand, should get a message from African-Americans, too.
African-American males are only six percent of the United States population, but comprise nearly 70 percent of NFL players. A nationwide boycott will show people of the African Diaspora uniting in actions to get NFL owners’ attention.
As former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Willie Colon told protesters at a rally for Kaepernick outside NFL headquarters in New York City last month: “Some people are down for themselves. Some people are down for the cause. You have to have a conscious decision on where you stand.”
William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via Busxchng@his.com.