TO KNEEL OR NOT TO KNEEL

When you get away from the emotion, the current hoopla surrounding the mass kneeling in the NFL during the national anthem is both simple and complex.

The story, as most everyone knows, began with the Colin Kaepernick’s one-knee “salute” during the pre-game playing of the Star-Spangled Banner, purportedly in protest of social injustice by law enforcement against the black community. Since then he’s become radioactive from a business standpoint and remains a free agent. Things simmered until the president’s recent commentary that kneelers should be fired, sparking a more broad-based exercise of the right to kneel (approximately 1-in-8 players per the media). It’s not entirely clear that the new kneelers are protesting the “racist nature” of the country; many analysts feel that the ascendant motivation at this time is support of their colleagues’ right to free speech and defiance of the president.

Both sides have cogent arguments: The kneelers supporting the First Amendment, the anti-kneelers asserting that disrespecting the anthem, the flag, and the country casts aspersions on first responders and the military, and that both the manner of the protest and the venue are inappropriate.

The business leaders in the NFL don’t have the right to abridge the First Amendment, but they do have the right and responsibility to establish dress codes and rules of behavior to protect their company and brand names. In this case, to date, beyond adopting a hands-off posture on Kaepernick, they have not done so. Corporations are not ideological and have one nerve ending: money. We can expect them to sit tight and watch the bottom line.

The talking heads will take a view according to their respective ideologies. On the Today Show this morning, while host Savannah Guthrie paid lip service to the complexity of the issue, their on-line survey regarding the question of the audience’s perception of the kneelers presented the choices, “It’s their right” and “It’s disrespectful,” omitting “All of the above.” One wonders if this option even crossed their minds.

There is only one arbiter of this newest manifestation of our increasing national ideological divide: The American people. They will decide to purchase the NFL product in its current incarnation, or walk.

You get to decide.

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2 Responses to “TO KNEEL OR NOT TO KNEEL”

  1. Autumn Cote Says:

    Would it be OK if I cross-posted this article to WriterBeat.com? There is no fee; I’m xsimply trying to add more content diversity for our community and I thought this was well-written. I’ll be sure to give you complete credit as the author. If “OK” please let me know via email.

    Autumn
    AutumnCote@WriterBeat.com

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