#TAKEAKNEE; Why Politics Should Have No Place in Football…..

Can anyone give me a cut and dry definition of “politics”? Not some ambiguous, nondescript concept but an actual definition of the word….No need to freestyle… how about looking one up? Kind of vague right? Let’s try this one on (Merriam & Webster….legit stuff I promise):

Politics: political affairs or business; especially :competition between competing interest groups or individuals for power and leadership (as in a government) 

Sounds a bit like a sport itself no?….but lately there has been so much staunch opposition to the presence of political dialogue in the sports arena…..when did football become a safe-haven?

I am no football fanatic but I have been to a game or two in my day. As an aside, I live in Philadelphia where we have a jail inside of our stadium but I digress. Some of these sports fans are the most vile, brute, offensive human beings to exist on the face of this planet….the stadium is their stage. Spitting, binge drinking, urinating publicly, slugging one another in the face for having the wrong jersey on, and rioting in the streets (even when they win). So what makes kneeling during the anthem so incredibly offensive to some of us?

I’ll answer…..people are still uncomfortable talking about race. People are afraid to say “I don’t know,” in response to long-standing social issues that REQUIRE an answer from all of us. People are still of the impression that social injustice is as simple as a papercut that if covered with a Bandaid will just disappear.

If you were misled by the title of this post I’m sorry to have disappointed but I had to get you here….and this really has little to do with politics. It seems like so many people that think that “politics have no place in football” are conflating politics with human rights….and if asked what home that these conversations should have…..would likely have no answer. 

It would take some serious cajones to say….”Now really isn’t an appropriate time to talk about human rights and equality for all”…so we don’t say that and we ignore our ethical responsibility by placing it under the umbrella of “politics” …we table the conversation. Not everyone has the luxury of reserving these uncomfortable conversations for forums in which they are convenient….we are bombarded with these conversations and their outcomes DIRECTLY affect our day-to-day. So for anyone that is just hoping we can just drop the whole <insert random minority demographic here> thing already… we can’t really do that and shouldn’t have to.

“But Jo…..can’t they think of a more respectful way to do things….like protesting the anthem….that’s disgusting!” Here’s the problem with assertions like this….and I’m assuming that you’re smart enough to know that this isn’t a protest against an anthem…..it’s a peaceful action that is calling attention (positive and negative) to a flawed system….When people are quicker to condemn a protest than they are to protest the injustice being protested…..well….it makes them look quite foolish. These protests are doing what they were intended to do…..you’re talking about it, getting fired up about it, when you would otherwise be slamming hi-life’s at a Fantasy Draft Party.

I’m not asking anyone to co-sign on my worldview. What I am challenging you to do is to think about how we’re allowed to protest, who is allowed to protest, what income bracket we have to be in, and during what hours we’re allowed to protest? What slogans are we permitted to adopt? How can we distinguish our advocacy from unfounded whining? Share your Outlook calendars so that we know when you’re free to discuss social injustice.

I would feel guilty closing this on such a scathing note so I’ll end with this. If everyone that was unhappy with how we did things here just “went back to their own country”…..nothing would have changed….and you yourself may not be here…… If throughout history we reserved conversations about injustice for those that were directly affected by that same injustice…….no one would have listened….and nothing would have changed 😉