The world is certainly a dark place. War is neverending, poverty still haunts much of the world, and injustice is strong even in the free world. The United States of America is supposed to be a beacon of hope and freedom for the world to see, or so the story goes. But the truth about what the country has become is hardly a fairy tale. Citizens are overtaxed so the government can drop bombs abroad and kill innocent civilians in drone strikes. The government spies on its own citizens and intercepts digital data. Police corruption is real and the justice system is far from perfect.
So how do we deal with it?
Fortunately for America, the National Football League is the premier breeding ground of modern revolutionaries in America. As whistleblower Edward Snowden sits in exile because he risked his life to expose the abuses of the surveillance state, guys who make a great deal of money to toss a pigskin are apparently waging the real revolution.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick caused an uproar when he sat down during the National Anthem. His reason for sitting down during a patriotic song honoring the flag and our country was to stand up against racial inequality.
Surely sitting down during a song at a football game will do the trick. Kaepernick has sat during his football career before as so have many others have, but the strategy of doing it during a song is brilliant. How many black people is this going to save from police shootings and racial discrimination?
Kaepernick isn’t the only brave soul in the N.F.L. who is standing up for America. Another overpaid attention seeker is standing up for change.
Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks has now declined to answer questions from reporters, citing the need to raise awareness regarding police brutality. What better way to stop police brutality than to simply not answer questions about football from reporters?
Clearly, the most offensive and oppressive organizations in the United States are those who spread the hateful National Anthem and journalists who ask questions of sports figures. Not the policies passed by any given legislative or rule-making body, not the police departments that have bad cops or even cover for said bad cops, and not the individuals themselves who perpetuate the hate and inequality that feeds violence.
The truth is none of these things are going to work. As well-intentioned as these moves by Kaepernick and Sherman are, it doesn’t actually remedy the situation. There will be no change in the behavior from bad cops due to a benchwarmer sitting during the National Anthem. The same can be said for Sherman refusing to field questions from reporters.
If either Kaepernick or Sherman were really serious about addressing the problem, they would stop living lavishly and use their high paid salaries towards credible action. They could form an organization that will actually work to shift policy in affected areas or even nationally. They could donate funds to problem cities to improve the quality of life and improve community relations. They could encourage community members to speak to their state legislators or congressional representatives.
There are any number of productive paths forward, none of which include sitting during a song or refusing to answer questions. At this point, these wannabe revolutionaries of the National Football League are just trying to grab attention for their careers.