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Golf should position itself as the anti-NFL

By Jeffrey A. Rendall, Images from YouTube

It’s fair to say ever since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the now NFL-wide American flag protesting controversy last year that many people have been reconsidering their love for professional football as America’s most popular pastime.

Seeing as the players’ sitting and kneeling gestures have greatly expanded this year to include virtually every team in every city throughout the fruited plain it’s clear that this hullabaloo is not going away anytime soon. If anything the problem will get worse, especially if the protests perpetuate the way they have been the past few weeks.

Sure, some claim the silent demonstrations are all done under the guise of free speech and a respect for the Constitution’s guarantee of protection for those expressing political opinions, but common sense also hints NFL owners and fans have a say in the interpretation of the actions as well.

For the owners they’re likely to see a precipitous drop in their bottom lines by blindly backing the players on flag-sitting since polls consistently show about two-thirds of the public believes athletes of all sports should stand for the national anthem even if they’re required to do so by the league or by management. Players have many forums outside the stadium to make a difference in their communities and there is certainly no limit of political organizations out there that would be more than happy to feature NFL celebrities as spokespersons.

Kaepernick in particular chose his moment and method of protest very carefully (during the contentious 2016 election, no less) and instead of initiating a dialogue on race relations he’s turned the entire country upside down with the mere suggestion that America stands for racism and brutality rather than freedom and liberty. Add the fact that all football players are highly paid and have basically succeeded because of America’s opportunity-fostering institutions (not in spite of them) and you’ve got a whole lot of people upset over the acts of a relative few.

The fans who pay for the tickets and watch the televised games that generate the ratings to attract advertisers for networks disagree strongly with Kaepernick’s methods.

Most people are willing to accept an athlete’s personal take on politics and culture as long as it doesn’t prevent them from performing on the field. Kaepernick became the world’s biggest mediocre distraction and that’s the prime reason why he’s currently unemployed -- and after all of this, is likely to remain so.

No team would sign him now; he’s radioactive.

Disgruntled athletes don’t need to make a mockery of the national symbol in order to work on their message. Respect for the flag and country should be universal since Uncle Sam wasn’t the one ordering rogue cops to commit civil rights violations in the documented cases. To claim that the system itself is behind the deeds of individuals is not only wrong, it’s insulting to the millions who have faith in the principles of America.

Statistics also indicate that police instigated crimes against citizens (of any color) is way down from the past so it’s evident that police brutality ain’t what it once was. That’s not to say it no longer exists but society is moving in the right direction. The players refuse to acknowledge this fact and they’re essentially eradicating their own livelihoods by taking only one side of the argument. They may soon find out that by speaking out in a manner that is so egregiously offensive to their fans that they no longer have their cushy jobs.

Beyond that, if the NFL (and NBA for that matter) eventually folds then an awful lot of poor kids who would otherwise have an opportunity to get a college education and possibly earn big money at the professional level will no longer have that chance. What about their rights? What about their futures?

Now contrast the NFL with the patriotic and respectful atmosphere found at this year’s Presidents Cup where participants from both teams respectfully saluted the flag while standing for the national anthem. American player Patrick Reed even highlighted the anthem during his post-match interview on day one.

The home country crowd’s chants of U-S-A! U-S-A! must have been music to the ears of Americans fed up with the NFL players’ thoughtless and tasteless gesticulations against the flag.

Golf has a real opportunity here. Citizens who choose to boycott the Sunday football games will be looking for other alternatives to more productively use their time and money. I personally intend to dedicate myself to spending more time on the links with family and friends rather than give credence and support to people who don’t deserve it and apparently don’t welcome it.

America’s problems will not be solved by honoring people who disrespect our opinions while making statements of their own. It’s not about free speech – as I mentioned, there are limitless forums for people to speak.

It’s well past time to simply life and get back to the basics of our own beliefs. For many of us, that harmony can be found on the golf course. Let’s tee it up.