In 2018 I’m boycotting. No, it’s not a transportation system or establishment, but it’s an entire corrupt system: the NFL. This year I will NOT be watching the Super Bowl and I’m overjoyed about it. I actually couldn’t be happier and self-fulfilled. I haven’t watched a single NFL game this entire 2017-2018 season, beyond the glimpse or two that I can’t help when it’s on in a restaurant and in my face.
I have made a conscious decision to not support an organization who has time and time again not supported my black and brown marginalized brothers and sisters. When Colin Kaepernick spoke out against injustice, he was swiftly blackballed from the league even when his numbers surpass more than half of the current starting quarterbacks in the entire NFL. Since him, multiple players have said because they have chose to raise a first or take a knee, they too feel as though they have been ostracized from the NFL. Instead of using this as a call to action or teaching moment, the NFL has stayed relatively mum on the issue. It wasn’t until a directive in 2009 that standing for the national anthem even became a thing. And of course that was because money was involved. Why would I supposed an organization that doesn’t represent me or anything that I stand for?
Beyond the injustice issues I have, I also don’t appreciate that 70% if the NFL is made up of black players and we have all the research in the world on concussion harmful effects, or CTE, and once again the NFL has turned a blind eye. Instead of using the issue to become a leader in safety and preventative measures, the NFL stays silent as players lose their cognitive abilities and their livelihood and entire families suffer as a result. Why? Because it’s all about the money of course.
And lastly, let’s paint this picture. Seventy percent of the NFL is filled with players who are scared silent for fear of losing their jobs. Yet on Sundays and through the week they bash each other’s heads in for white “owners” and fans who can afford the tickets (mostly white.) That doesn’t sit well with me. It feels like a plantation game for the rich and they are getting enjoyment over black body misery.
Something has got to give one way or another. I’ve enjoyed not watching the NFL this year, but I have coupled this extra time to learning more about the issues and the history of the league. Plus, the NBA season has been amazing thus far. Now if only my New York Knicks can figure it out. I think this may be our year.
What Colin Kaepernick means to me
You see, often times we don’t realize greatness until folks have passed away. Legacies aren’t cemented until decades later when society decides if a trailblazer really accomplished something noteworthy or not. That’s NOT what I have made up in my mind is going to happen when it comes to Colin Kaepernick. This young man sacrificed his NFL career to stand up for something he, and millions of other people, believe is injustice and discrimination on behalf of rich, white America. Whether intentionally or not, Kaepernick made a decision to kneel for the National Anthem and in turn, speak up for those who don’t have a voice. He lost his job for it.
What he may not have realized was that he inspired generations of activists and forced thousands, if not millions, of people to face the hard truths about America and society as a whole. Why do folks get behind women’s rights movements and gay issues, but stay silent on black issues? You can say, oh he should be quiet, he’s making millions. But I see it a bit different. Yes, he’s making millions, but Kaepernick also has a platform: Scream young king! Let your voice be heard everywhere. For every professional athlete making a substantial income, there are hundreds of thousands of people of color living in poverty, in a disadvantaged position.
Kaepernick is a black man with a white mother who knows a little more than most how color can play a role in someone’s life and their maturation and development. Kaepernick is my fraternity brother in Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., an organization founded on the campus of Indiana University in 1911 when brothers had to stick together because the bond was all they had against racism, discrimination and bigotry.
Kaepernick isn’t perfect nor does he have to be. Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t have a perfect life, but I would challenge anyone to say his impact was less received.
Kaepernick represents integrity, boldness and power in the face of adversity. He represents representation and accountability. Kaepernick represents being black in a white America. Kaepernick represents me. Life hasn’t been peaches and cream for anyone that I know and it likely will never be. But who’s to stop you or I in this lifetime from making it a better place. Each and every day as Kaepernick has been ostracized from the NFL and fights for rights for all, each and every one of us can figure out a way to fight in our lives. Kaepernick was just a football hero, but now he is a living pioneer.
The NFL's Obsession with Violence
The National Football League is a $9 billion dollar corporation. It's comprised of billionaire owners, executives and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell who all work to make money for each other. The relationship foundations are grounded in this. Each year 16 regular season games are played followed by playoffs. Team owners and NFL executives make millions annually off of revenue from ticket sales to apparel to anything else that relates to the team. All is well in the world, right? Absolutely not. The recent stories of (former) Baltimore Raves running back Ray Rice domestic violence incident with his wife to Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy domestic violence pending case with his former girlfriend to the most recent allegations of child abuse against Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson shows exactly how removed the owners, commissioner and and many players are from their roles in society and as men. There is no place for violence or abuse EVER. Yet, recent NFL commissioner actions may lead you to believe otherwise.
It started with Ray Rice. Video first surfaced months back that the NFL admits to have seen that showed Rice dragging his wife, then fiance, out of an Atlantic City hotel. He admitted to hitting her and was fined and penalized 2 games by the NFL. It wasn't until this video surfaced by TMZ about a week ago showing the actual punch Rice landed on his wife that the NFL and the rest of the country took notice. As a result Rice was fired from the Ravens, suspended indefinitely by the league and became the poster child for ridicule against domestic violence with many players speaking out.
Rewind less than two months, and Greg Hardy was found guilty of 2 counts of assault against his ex-girlfriend. The NFL season came, the Panthers played their first game and Hardy suited up and started. Not a mum was heard. But when the Rice incident occurred now there was outrage across the board. How could one player be chastised and not the same happen across the board? Hardy was deactivated in the second game of the Panthers season as his case remains under review.
Now enter Adrian Peterson. Last last week Peterson was indicted on charges of child abuse for allegedly using a switch on his child to discipline him. He was booked Saturday and released. Many say that disciplining your child should be up to the discretion of the parents. Others say that a child should never be physically disciplined in any way. Whatever side you are on with respect to disciplining your child, no child should be physically beaten to the point of broken bones or continued ailment. Something went wrong with what Peterson did to his son.
These are three incidents for the NFL. Three incidents in less than three months that relate to violence. Three incidents that forces the NFL to do something, speak out and act.
What is the NFL going to do? I have purposely left out countless other domestic violence cases of the past or the ongoing problems of NFL owners Jim Irsay and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones for the sake of space to focus on the three hottest stories that are most relevant. But the truth is, this is nothing new. The NFL has a terrible history of violence that has never been dealt with. The frequency with which these incidents are occurring may be lessening, but violence within the NFL is a problem. The NFL has its sites set on how it's going to get to $25 billion, but at what cost? It's about more and more money. Are the players at the focus of progress in the NFL or are they merely bobble-heads of executives and officials to move around when they see fit? The money in the NFL is out of control and the culture of what's right and acceptable is being watered down and downtrodden. All young men, regardless of color, need to know it's unacceptable to hit a woman. When it comes to disciplining your child, there needs to be some sort of discretion in teaching, but not crippling. And who are the real victims of domestic violence? Is it the ridiculed players, is it the public or the victims? I argue it's everyone involved. Our system of disciplining is all messed up. Ray Rice was kicked out of the league, his wife seen as the silly one for staying and the two have nothing left but each other. Where is the lesson learned? Where is the teaching? I can point to a lot of things like missing fathers in the household and looking for role models and right from wrong from the ill-advised sources, but at the epicenter of it all is what we, as a society, deem acceptable and cool and what is not. We cannot promote doing whatever to women in one aspect of life and not expect respect in another. We need to reevaluate as a society how we construct things and put them together. From commercials to television to video games, all the things young minds wrap their minds around and take as reality at a young age. There is no reason for violence, but it starts with each of us taking a look at ourselves and how we are contributing to the progression or the digression of it all. Everyone loses when these type of stories come out, but how are we going to deal with them all and bounce back is what I want to know. How is the NFL going to properly insure that these players are given proper help with their families and in how they handle situations? We all can do something to help, but what is our niche and how are we going to make something happen.
lives by one word: achievement. in anything and everything, achieve.