A Note to NFL Players: Understand your role, social causes are not one of them

Let’s get something straight, this is football.

This is not:

I thought it was rather stunning that the CBS Sports staff on the Sunday pregame show for the opening of the NFL season at noon spent at least 15 minutes talking about a player who isn’t even on an NFL team, Colin Kaepernick. It is truly an awesome display of ignorance that the studio heads of the major networks would look at the NFL ratings and not draw a parallel to the amount of players who have followed Kaepernick into kneeling during the National Anthem ceremonies before games. People who pay over $200 per seat by the time you total up the whole NFL experience don’t want to have some 20 something kid lecture them about social injustice. They want a break from the world which is why they show up to spend so much money on a simple game. But for people connected to the NFL media to openly endorse anti-American behavior is a reckless enterprise that shows they have no idea who their audience is, or how much that audience will put up with to spend money on their game.

I look forward to the NFL season each year—I enjoy the game as a capitalist enterprise that makes a lot of people happy. The NFL experience is a good one, especially on an October Sunday where the air is cool, the humidity is down and all of downtown is thriving at 10 AM in the morning with festivities awaiting the big game at 1 PM. I’ve been to several NFL games around the country and have more than once spent large amounts of money on experiences in the club section and I always enjoy it—more on a macro level as opposed to the intimacy of a local team. I think football is good for America and is an appropriate metaphor for the capitalist system of economics that makes our country the most successful on planet earth. Its good in that regard to indulge in the spectacle of football.

But then you have a player’s union rooted in Marxism that seeks to work against capitalism by its very nature—you have a lot of kids who grew up in impoverished socialist cities who only found in football a way out of their self-imposed misery—who really don’t understand the greater world outside of the rules of the game who are thrust onto the front pages of magazines and television cameras for a short five or six years of their young lives. Then when the game is done with them they are thrown back into society to do something—usually to fail. You have the various progressive groups who want to rename teams into things less “offensive” or to make the game “safer” by making movies attacking the concussion protocol, and other issues. Like CNN did with Sea World, many in the entertainment business see the NFL as a capitalist icon that should be brought down and they use social welfare causes to attack the institution of football, which is having an effect. Then you have some kid like Kaepernick who takes all the fun out of the game by not honoring the National Anthem and forcing people to deal with a social cause everyone wants to forget about for the three-hour span of a game. Most people watching football want to drink and knock the edge off the stresses in their life, and they want to watch violence as their team marches toward a meaningless victory that will be forgotten 24 hours later in the middle of a Monday. When Kaepernick started these protests during the 2016 season and other players followed him, the NFL ratings plummeted. And that is carrying over into the 2017 season which should concern everyone involved. But mysteriously, people close to the game, like television game hosts are sticking with the protest narrative as if Kaepernick has some kind of right to be anti-American while the team he is on is supposed to honor the American system for which football is a game of proper metaphors.

It really shouldn’t even be a debate. The NFL owners understand what the intention is—it’s to make money. Without money the players don’t get paid, their cities don’t get the needed revenue they need to support stadiums in their downtowns, and many of the bars and restaurants that are satellite businesses to the NFL lose huge portions of their revenue. I hate to say it but if you are an NFL player, you are an employee of something much larger—and you need to shut your mouth and play your role in the entertainment for which you have been commissioned. You are not some God on the field of dreams, you are an instrument to be played to the liking of the mob—and you better get used to it. You sacrifice your personal sovereignty the way a soldier does for the US military—you are to follow orders and do what they tell you to—and to like it. When you are done playing the game, you get your life back—and that’s what players sign up for in exchange for the massive paychecks. They are to sacrifice their bodies and their lives while they are playing to the needs of football.

When I was younger every coach wanted me to play on their team, but I never did because I knew as a younger person that football was a means to losing my individual sovereignty and I didn’t want to do that. I wasn’t willing to give that up for the fame, the girls, the power of local celebrity—but some people were. They had pretty positive experiences until they were injured or found they could no longer play the game. I think it’s a reasonable trade-off, and for those who choose to play, they need to understand the rules. They don’t get to change them the way that Kaepernick has tried to do—by assuming that football is so big, and that he was so good that his social messages would have to be listened to by a public half drunk and miserable in their daily lives. He obviously was wrong.

It was really amazing how many social causes attach themselves to the game of football these days, from cancer treatments to hurricane relief—football—especially in the NFL has become more about social causes than about smashing the other guy into oblivion and winning a game for the pride of your local city. But on a Sunday where two hurricanes had just hit the US mainland and one of those hurricanes shut down the opening of two NFL teams in Florida there were a lot more important stories pertinent to the game of NFL football than Colin Kaepernick who is without a team because he’s so toxic and whether or not he should be playing due to his social justice crusade. People don’t care, nor do they want to be reminded of such a thing when they are spending over $1000 on beer, nachos, and hot dogs hoping their team will give them in return a victory they can enjoy for the afternoon and forget all the troubles on their plate at that moment.

Rich Hoffman

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