The NFL operates as a private institution
Just like an employer who has the right to make changes to workplace policy, Roger Goodell also has the right to react abruptly to a decline in TV ratings. The NFL is an entertainment business and therefore TV ratings, attendance, and so on are things owners can’t turn a blind eye to. I find that a lot of people believe the first amendment somehow guarantees you free speech rights because they supposedly think that the NFL operates in the same way as a public institution, such as a university. No, the NFL is not responsible for promoting free exchange of ideas. In a private institution, you just can’t say what you want or do what you wish because your employer has control over your behavior (of course if they don’t violate the civil rights act). Think about what happened with Google when they fired a male engineer who claimed that women are not biologically fit for tech jobs.
The purpose of this protest
The impetus for Colin Kaepernick to kneel during the National Anthem was not because of a betrayal to the military nor was it because of an inflating ego seeking to divide the NFL. It was a mere act of courage to peacefully protest the police brutality against the African American community – a united community that relies heavily on their athletes to speak up against pertinent issues. We’ve witnessed similar instances throughout history. Consider Mohammed Ali, who made headlines for his refusal to serve in the military in the Vietnam war, or Jesse Owens who helped ignite the civil rights movement debate, or John Carlos and Tommie Smith, American Sprinters who raised black-gloved fists and bowed their heads to show black power in the US. We can unequivocally say Colin Kaepernick belongs to this list because he also ignited a flame, but I’m afraid that flame is slowly dying out.
Donald Trump has no business telling the NFL what to do
In 2013, Donald Trump tweeted “president should not be telling the Washington Redskins to change their name-our country has far bigger problems! FOCUS on them, not nonsense,”. Later in 2017, he tweeted “sports fans should never condone players that do not stand proud for their National Anthem or their Country. NFL should change policy!“. His contradictory, ill-informed opinions is nothing new, just this time it’s causing harm to the NFL because owners and executives are being influenced by his predatory remarks. I’m also upset with the Vice President who tweeted “winning” in response to the NFL policy change. How’s it winning when both of their involvement adds to the support of players kneeling?
By Vinu Selvaratnam
The views expressed in this article are my own and do not represent any institution.