At Yom Kippur break-fast Saturday night I discussed the NFL players’ “Take a Knee” protest and Trump’s tweets.
One of the people, who is not anti-Trump, thought it was a mistake for Trump to tweet about it as he did. That it simply made it a bigger deal and probably generated sympathy for the players.
The protests were as much about Trump as about racial justice, and that was before Trump even commented.
Much like the media attempt to turn Houston, then Florida, and now Puerto Rico into Trump’s Katrina, there is nothing honest about how the media treats such disputes. Every event is twisted and turned to try to make it Trump’s Katrina, the defining event in which a passive president allows the media to freeze his presidency. Bush never recovered from the false blame placed on him by the media and Democrats for the failed Katrina response by local authorities, particularly in New Orleans.
Trump could have sat back and seen a major, perhaps THE major, sports institution weaponized against him as part of #TheResistance, or he could have hit back.
I’ll grant you, in a better world a president wouldn’t and shouldn’t respond to player protests in the way Trump did. But it’s not a better world. It’s a world in which there has been a sustained attempt to undo the election starting on election night, through Electoral College voting, into the Inauguration and the contrived Women’s March(es), and daily since then.
The players protest cannot be viewed in isolation.
According to Twitter and news reports, only a handful of players protested so far today during the national anthem. The Baltimore Ravens took a knee prior to the anthem, and were booed by the crowd.
I can guarantee you, had Trump not responded as he did to those initial kneel-downs, and were the American people not on Trump’s side on the merits, this weekend would have been quite different. This weekend would have seen mass protests on the field, with the protesters dressed in football uniforms and helmets instead of pussy-hats.
There was nothing improper about a president pushing back against critics. No one was arrested, and the police power of the state was not threatened much less used. A group of players who thought, mistakenly, that they had the people on their side found out they didn’t. And a politician with a gut instinct on the issue turned it around on them. That’s politics, baby.
I don’t know if the kneel-down protests are completely over, but to paraphrase Harry Reid, the knee-jerk protesters have failed, their war is lost.
But it’s not just about the players. It’s about the owners and the NFL. They were all-too-ready to back the players all-too-quickly until the optics changed on them, the fans started booing, and the polling moved against them.
“The NFL to me is emotionally dead. It’s like a loveless marriage now. I really don’t care about it. And I think that’s worse for the NFL. If people hate it and are angry and upset, they’re still going to watch the games and still get emotionally involved. I’m not emotionally involved with the NFL and that’s contrary to my entire life. Most of my life growing up, the NFL was such a critical part of it. Now it’s just something I’m not interested in.”
So I didn’t watch any games today.
I saw a tweet by Matt Lewis that “Maybe it’ll change when the weather’s cold, but not being chained to the TV on an NFL Sunday is liberating.” It turns out, as he explained to me by email, that he quit watching football several weeks ago for family quality of life reasons, before the current mass protests and Trump’s comments.
Maybe these kneel-down protests just took place at the worst possible time for the NFL, a time when people were ready to be fed up for a lot of reasons. Certainly, the survey data showing a precipitous drop in the NFL brand reputation and favorability suggests the public reaction is not just to the protests. The perfect storm for the NFL.
I’m not sure the NFL players or NFL owners and league have unconditionally surrendered, yet. There still seem to be a few dead-enders still fighting in the mountains. But they have lost the people. They asked us to choose sports heroes over country, and most people chose country.
I felt liberated today. Call it Liberation Sunday.DONATE
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