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NFL Anthem debate


July 16, 2018 Letters to the Editor

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While the Eagle’s editorial (“Nailing NFL kneelers,” May 25) on the NFL and the anthem raised valid points, there are other ways to view the hullabaloo than through the tired, hackneyed perspective of law talk and rights talk and patriotism vs. the lack thereof.

Let’s take a different approach stripped of pretensions. First, for two minutes some athletes sit on their butts while a song is played. Then the “game” is played and the athletes collect their fat paychecks, the owners, overwhelming white, collect their money. The advertisers and the networks also pocket their many, many millions. The players do not risk, endure or sacrifice anything. And if you came in late you wouldn’t know a “protest” took place — some “protest.”

Second, the NFL could circumvent the entire problem by simply not playing the song. I’ve attended a fair number of rock concerts and the song wasn’t played and there were no complaints. A pro football game is similar in that it is a public event. for which you pay to be entertained. The NFL is a multi-national entertainment corporation; the owners are sloppy rich and the players are well-paid interchangeable widgets, and everyone is in it for the money. Love of the game has long since disappeared. Given all this, why play the song at all as it adds nothing to the doings. Those on the left should be especially opposed to its playing as it manifests crude nationalism in the service of corporate avarice.

The larger problem, and it has been decades in the making, is that spectacle has superseded sport, and the game itself is not enough (unlike attending, say, a Zeppelin concert back in the day which was more than enough), lawyers and marketers dominate, and the public wants frills and baubles. Pro sports leagues have obliged and have now got themselves in a pickle over issues like the flag flap. Remember the first Super Bowl was half empty and a high school band played at halftime. I should add my son and his teammates played their youth soccer games with more enthusiasm, and the matches didn’t begin with a national anthem.

Finally, not everyone is a sports fan, and there are plenty of things to do on a beautiful fall Sunday afternoon instead of watching some overhyped corporate activity masquerading as kind of a game.

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