By Nancy Thorner & Ed Ingold -
Professional athletes in football and basketball attracted national attention this week for refusing to respect the flag and National Anthem at games. Once restricted to a few misfits like Colin Kaepernick, formerly of the San Francisco 49ers, the protest spread this weekend more against President Trump, for his tweets decrying the practice, as for sympathy with Kaepernick.
This is widely regarded as a crybaby response on the part of a privileged few who are paid handsomely to perform children’s games for the entertainment of sedentary fans. This manufactured protest has been met by a roughly 8% drop in attendance and viewership of the games. Fans are seen burning team jerseys, even season tickets in counter-protest. Team members who refuse to “join in solidarity” have been criticized by other players and management for “poor team spirit.”
Chicago's Mayor Rahm Emanuel on September 27th accused President Donald Trump of trying to divide the nation in criticizing NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem, calling the president’s comments a “cynical ploy to distract people” from his administration’s failures. Emanuel further said that Trump's provocative statements and Tweets about the kneeling protests were for the purpose of dividing America, by noting that the ideals of this nation "encourage those who dissent to speak up, and that takes nothing away from their patriotism."
Emanuel also expressed his displeasure at Gov. Bruce Rauner who made public statements in support of Trump's feelings about athletes who kneel for the national anthem. For this one thing we applaud Rauner as one who was a Never Trumper and even refused to attend the Republican Convention this past summer when Trump was recognized as the Republican presidential candidate to face Hillary Clinton in November of last year.
Today’s NFL has become a massive entitlement program for billionaires, one of the worst examples of corporate welfare. Like others who enjoy lavish lifestyles based on government handouts, many NFL owners are ungrateful to the American system that makes their success possible.Of course not all players put their game above the American flag. Pittsburgh Steelers’ lineman Alejandro Villanueva, a former Army Ranger, gave us all something to cheer about when he stood alone on the field to honor the American flag and the National Anthem while his teammates cowered in the tunnel.But then even he had to pay a price for being patriotic, as his own head coach and teammates began criticizing him for it. He was apparently forced to apologize for supposedly embarrassing his teammates. President Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin summed this issue up well on one of the Sunday morning talk shows, remarking that NFL players “can do free speech on their own time.” They do not have to insult our Nation in taxpayer-built stadiums before captive audiences.