NFL football is definitely a case of Blacks playing the White man’s game. Is it even feasible for Blacks turn their backs on the NFL schedule this year?
Black consumers can control the fate of the NFL and racism in America. We need to bolster the players’ protest.
Rep. Keith Ellison announced he won’t be watching this NFL season “because of the unfair cowardly and idiotic kneeling ban as part of a movement to boycott the NFL over a new policy that imposes fines on players who protest during the national anthem is advancing.”
The NFL is a $14 billion a year professional football juggernaut enterprise consists of 32 teams, owned primarily by White men. The issue confronting the NFL is the issue of patriotism and the national anthem. The NFL remains in a position of strength with ratings still the best in sports. The protests have been polarizing and have hurt NFL revenues.
The intersection of politics and the NFL has race and culture at its base. Protests started by former San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick and adapted by other players were a powerful stand against racism and a testament to free speech. Several NFL players have announced that they will be “sitting out” the season over the league’s efforts to keep protesters from playing. They aim to get 25 percent of players to sit out with them.
A large majority (73 percent) of Blacks say players are trying to call attention to racism and police violence. President Trump says his objections to the protests are about “respect for our country, flag and national anthem,” not about race, while Blacks defend the protests as a matter of free speech.
When Kaepernick first began protesting during the national anthem, he said he wasn’t going to show pride in a country that oppresses people of color, citing a litany of police violence practices against black Americans.
The current arrangement is humiliating to Blacks. Trump insults and degrades professional athletes, then virtually dictates the new policies the NFL needs to adopt. And African-American players who’ve spent their entire lives preparing to play in the league are simply expected to shut up and take it. Many Black voices call for a boycott of the league and feel that they must turn the game off to salvage a modicum of self-respect.
But, again, the NFL is a business run and controlled by White men. The fact of the matter is that these leagues were created by White people for the entertainment and wealth of White people. The question for Blacks is: what to do to get respect for ourselves and issues? Are you willing to boycott NFL football this year?
The first thing we have to do is “turn off” the TV. Television is the medium almost single-handedly responsible for making the NFL the largest sports enterprise in the world. On any given game day in the league, roughly 80 percent of the players are Black. In the U.S., 65 percent of adults say they follow the NFL in some form, with 56 percent watching games on television and 9 percent tuning in via the internet.
Make your boycott visible to NFL owners. Police brutality has become an incredibly polarizing and contentious issue. Trump charges that kneeling during the national anthem is disrespectful to American servicemen and women, and has repeatedly attempted to rebrand the protest as a protest of the American flag instead of against police brutality and racism in the U.S. Blacks need to rebrand the issue to R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via Busxchng@his.com.