(This Op-Ed appears in the 9/11/18 issue of Florida Today)
Nike, the sports equipment giant, dropped 3 points in the stock market following that company’s new alliance with former NFLer, Colin Kaepernick. Considering Nike is worth $36.4 billion in the global market, that translates to a huge loss. I suspect it’s only just begun.
I first learned of the rising movement to burn Nike shoes in protest of the protester from my 55-year-old firefighter son who says he will no longer buy Nike products. He claims most of his civil service compatriots are doing the same.
My issue with ex-player, multi-millionaire Kaepernick is not about his entitlements to protest. It’s about abusing his constitutional rights by wrongfully denigrating the very nation that has given him those freedoms by being American.
Much of this ballyhoo would not have happened without the knowledge and consent of NFL owners and coaches who haven’t the guts to do what’s right. When a coach or league commissioner tells players (employees) they are there to play football and entertain fans, they should not be making on-duty political or social protests. If they violate orders, they should lose their jobs. That’s Employment 101.
This has nothing to do with free speech. While employed in a public setting for 30 years, I could not use my uniform to protest or endorse a war, criminal statutes or political figures while on duty. I was paid to perform at my employer’s bidding. Off duty is another issue.
When fans attend or watch pro football games, they have one motive: entertainment. It’s not about politics, racial injustice, or gay pride. Thousands of fans deeply resent millionaire players misusing the limelight to protest issues unrelated to the game. In doing so, unwilling fans feel trapped. Men and women by the thousands, many of whom sacrificed arms, legs and lives by defending our country and keeping the streets of America as safe as possible, are subjected to unwarranted defamation.
Irate fans are speaking out with the absence of their dollars. According to a February report in the International Journalism Review, Sunday Night Football lost 2.2 million viewers in 2017. Monday night viewers dropped from 12.3 million viewers to 10.9. Including the plethora of empty seats in some stadiums, the league lost a direct amount of over $30 million in 2017. There are many photos of empty stadium seats available through Google. In September of 2017, an article in Business Insider claimed:
“Playing at the storied Los Angeles Coliseum, the Rams opened their season in front of roughly 25,000 people in a stadium that can hold almost four times that.”
The commissioner of the NFL could settle this with an edict to coaches and players. Demonstrate elsewhere, but not on the job. There are hundreds of great players waiting for a chance on the sidelines.
Kaepernick began this bogus movement two years ago, along with the sheep that followed. I would suggest there is more to the story, especially when we see Kaepernick publicly wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with photos of Fidel Castro. In another conference, he praised Fidel Castro and Cuba’s education system without mentioning the horrors Castro bestowed upon millions of Cuban people. While in his football gear, Kaepernick often wore socks depicting pigs wearing with police hats. Where are the bosses?
Kaepernick claims his protests are against police brutality. Except for rare and isolated instances, that is a bogus claim. Sure, a rogue cop will lose it now and then. And according to the FBI, it’s true that blacks comprise 13 percent of the population yet log 31 percent of victims killed by police. Never mind that blacks commit 52 percent of homicides. As per the Bureau of Justice, the criminal offending rate among blacks is seven times higher than for whites.
Perhaps Kaepernick needs to address real problems within black communities which get ignored: Black on black crime.
He should also remember, when he or his family are ever in great peril, the first person he’ll call will be a cop.