The NFL’s Biggest Mistake
In the sports world, regardless of the particular game being played, there have always been a few cardinal rules: be respectful of your opponents, maintain a sense of humility regardless of winning or losing, and try to maintain a separation between politics and sports as much as possible. Unfortunately, the NFL has forgotten the last of these with their newest rule, which states that kneeling during the national anthem is prohibited.
Right off the bat, we have to acknowledge that the NFL hasn’t had the greatest track record when it comes to social justice issues to begin with. However, this ruling will be forever remembered as their biggest misstep by far with respect to anything involving social justice issues.
In fact, this will be remembered likely on the same level as the Black Power Salute at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. It’s also likely that the same events will play out once again for the NFL: they’ll abandon this quickly and try to push it under the rug for 20 years, realize that people haven’t forgotten, will issue an half-hearted apology, and Colin Kaepernick, who began the entire “taking a knee during the anthem” movement, will be put into the Smithsonian’s Black History Wing.
Unfortunately, Roger Goodell, whose popularity has already been in the dumps for years, will now face immense pressure, scrutiny and criticism from all sides as he deals with the backlash that he’ll inevitably face following this ruling. The fact that this decision didn’t even go to a formal vote shows that Goodell did a good deal of strong-arming to make sure this passed during the owner’s meeting.
However, perhaps the worst part is that Donald Trump, the man who first criticized players for kneeling during the National Anthem, will only use this as an excuse to beat up on and criticize the NFL even more than before. Simply put, the NFL messed up big time on this decision and this time, the league might not be able to talk themselves out of it.