There is no doubt that politics has long played a part in sports from the beginning. One could argue, according to one of Merriam-Webster’s definitions “relations or conduct in a particular area of experience especially as seen or dealt with from a political point of view,” that politics is a factor in every aspect of our daily lives. With that said, it is no wonder that we seek forms of entertainment and recreation that provide a respite from the political dealings of everyday life. That is why the current climate of professional sports has become so maddening. Especially that of the National Football League.
When Colin Kaepernick began his now infamous “protest against oppression,” little did he realize the negative implications it would yield for himself and the NFL. Everyone in this country has a right to protest real or perceived injustices. However, what needs to be highlighted is the fact that actions also have consequences. When amateur or professional athletes and the sporting organizations in which play begin using their public positions as a platform to make political statements, they must realize that those positions can become tenuous and the consequences of their actions may result in a public response that they did not expect. The NFL and players around the league are experiencing these consequences first hand.
What the NFL and players have yet come to recognize is that they have damaged their brand and profession by taking away from fans the very sporting event and entertainment looked to as an escape from the politics endured on a day-to-day basis. So instead of league owners enforcing rules that prohibit players from engaging in actions that are detrimental to the profession, they are instead double and even tripling down on the very behaviors that are now costing them millions of dollars in revenue. Far be it from me to tell an organization, such as the NFL, how to conduct their operation but one only needs to look at the half empty stadiums splashed across the news every Sunday to realize that allowing on the field “protests” by players is probably not the best of business decisions. If the league continues to allow this behavior as part of their business model, I fear that the once exciting game of professional football will go the way of the Dodo bird and limp painfully into irrelevance and become extinct. It will not be missed.
By Dr. Vincent K. Ramsey
Dr. Vincent K. Ramsey, is the Chair of Sports Exercise Science at the United States Sports Academy, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.