MY CONUNDRUM WITH RECENT NFL BOYCOTTS
Photo By Julie Meier – JulieGirl Photography / NW FACTS
The popularity of sports, in particular, Football — the pure enjoyment we receive from it and the pedestal we place it on as a bastion for male masculinity, leaves the system of the NFL (which is inherently tied to white supremacy) and the problematic behavior of quite a few of its players, absolved from a majority public outcry. That absolvement, however, does not exists as many within the recent year(s) have decided to no longer support or watch any NFL games.
The apparent blackballing of Colin Kaepernick, the constant befuddlement of handling players who, more likely than not, have committed acts of Domestic Violence, to overall bad play, and the physical price to pay, particularly to the nervous system — there seems to be a plethora of reasons, all valid, as to why people are protesting against the NFL.
For me, someone who enjoys watching the NFL but is extremely aware as to why people are protesting, it’s been quite amazing seeing and listening to opposing sides go back and forth on extremes. From abolishing the NFL completely, to the “stick to sports” side of the fence, I wonder if this protest, like many others, is a hollow gesture and quick reaction due to the NFL and their transgressions (in the public’s eye, at least). Calling for the abolishment of the NFL is essentially calling for the end of Football on all levels. As mentioned earlier, the NFL is one of the many functions in society that embody and perpetuate white supremacy. However, due to the opportunities that Football can provide financially, for the socioeconomically disadvantaged who aren’t blessed with privileges of choosing what they want to do as a profession, sports, Football — the NFL, seems and is presented as a means to provide a better life for themselves and their families. It’s no secret that a majority of NFL players are Black, (nor do you have to look too far to find a sports publication running a classic “rags to riches” story on a Black player. A phrase coined “white gaze,” which can be discussed at a later time) and keeping that in mind, I’m all for Black people making money, even it’s through the unfortunate means of capitalism — shouldn’t we protest that?
The oft-used line of “stick to sports” is irrelevant and dismissive of the reality that, even before the horrific video that surfaced in 2014 of Ray Rice beating his wife, Janay Palmer, in an elevator, before Kaepernick kneeled in defense of Black lives, we’ve never been able to “escape” when these issues are placed upon our beloved athletes. It’s due to our misogyny and inability to hold men accountable for their actions, and the overall cognitive dissonance when it comes to valuing Black lives, it’d be much easier if the “stick to sports” crew would simply say that they don’t care. Their actions and words already indicate. With all this in mind, to you I may seem like a bundle of contradictions, refusing to pick a side. It’s certainly a complex issue, and anything that’s complex deserves to be analyzed in such a way.