Sportsmanship and the NFL
Growing up, sports held a dominant place in our home and we LOVED it. Baseball, soccer, football—we were all in. Hundreds of hours were poured into games, practices, and traveling to places you've never even heard of for tournaments. It was grand ... at least for us. My parents say they enjoyed it too, but it's hard to know for sure or if it's just nostalgia. I mean c'mon, giving up your hard-earned weekend to travel to Moreno Valley, CA (do an image search) to watch 10-year-old kids play games all weekend? I'm not too sure about that.
Either way I'm grateful they encouraged our involvement in sports. It helped us socialize, build confidence in ourselves, and learn to be a part of a team. A tradition I hope to pass to my kids. We did Little League t-ball this year and are just now beginning soccer season. It's also baseball season (Major League) and therefore the San Francisco Giants games are usually playing in the background of our home almost every night. Rhodes knows the players and every morning asks if we won or not (which I love that this concerns him). I love sitting and watching the games together. I explain the rules and talk about the players. It's one of my favorite things to do as a dad. I even took him to his first game not too long ago. My dad joined, which made it even more special.
Sports have always been an outlet for me. Despite some of the issues that come with professional sports, I can find peace by sitting back and catching a random Wednesday night baseball game. I never want to forget some of the realities facing the world, but I think one of the appeals of sports is that all that goes away for a few hours and the focus becomes on a game ... until it doesn't.
This brings me to the NFL, the nightmare of a league plagued with so much unhealthy testosterone that it's hard to know what to think. I want share my thoughts on a few recent events and why recent decisions by this institution have forced me to boycott the NFL this year for the sake of teaching my son about sportsmanship, being a part of a team, and standing up to institutional racism, sexism, and greed.
Last year, 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee on the sideline during the national anthem in protest of the disproportional and systemic violence against black people by police officers. The recent murders of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Sandra Bland (to name only a few) and the acquittal of their killers ignited a movement much larger than Kaepernick, but he chose to use his platform to express his heartache for the current state of affairs.
People lost their minds.
For some people, he might as well have punched their mom. The response was off the rails. People were literally burning his jersey and sending death threats. People saw it as disrespect to servicemen and women, kittens, puppies, and the very fabric of humanity.
Colin Kaepernick eventually left the 49ers (although he was pretty much forced out in my opinion) and to this very day is unemployed. Keep in mind, this is the same man who led him team to the Super Bowl in the 2012/2013 season. Week one update: Colin Kaepernick's QB rating for '16 was 90.7. 18 starting QBs (combined HOU QBs) did worse in Week 1.
Dallas Cowboys running back and poster child Ezekiel Elliot beat his girlfriend. The pictures were posted online after owner Jerry Jones ON NATIONAL TELEVISION said there was no domestic voice and that he investigated the situation. The result? A 6-game suspension that is still be contested back and forth between the Government and the NFL. He’s paying football and making a ton of money. The Cowboys organization has a terrible history of sheltering abusers (see Greg Hardy).
Let me pause a moment to recognize a bit of misogyny in my own life here. For years the league has continued to hire men who physically abuse women (and children). The fact that it took something happening to a man for me to become so vocal is a shame and something I need to work though. To the women in my life: I'm sorry.
But this really isn't about Ezekiel Elliot or Jerry Jones. Over and over again the NFL continues to choose money over values, and act against the interest of what is right in the name of the mighty dollar. This is about a man who took a knee to advocate for a *SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN FACT (sources) that black people are dis-proportionally targeted and killed by police officers in America. He stood against a white-narrative and is being completely railroaded by the NFL and its owners.
We support Colin Kaepernick and therefore stand by his side—away from the NFL. My son is too young to understand some of the ideas we're talking about here, but I am teaching him about Kap and his willingness to do what was right, even when it was unpopular. That we support our friends and stand (or kneel) with them when their rights are being stripped away. Is he perfect? Nope. He has his issues on and off the field. He does not, however, deserve to be treated with such obvious racial bias. We are a team. This isn't something I take lightly. I really enjoy watching football and it is a part of my life that will be missed. But if I'm going to teach my son about what's right, I have to live it out.