I Love football. No really, I Love football. I played it through college, coached it as a parent, and I have watched it for my whole life. I still dream about playing, and I had my last dream about a week and a half ago. I probably play kickball with the energy, drive, and passion that I do, because it fills the void left by my Love of playing football. Anyone who knows me knows that boycotting the NFL is something that is a colossal challenge for me. I Love football, but I will not watch this season until Colin Kaepernick gets signed to a team.
I am boycotting because I support Colin Kaepernick’s protest during the National Anthem last year. Last year Colin Kaepernick sat out and took a knee during the national anthem. When challenged about his decision he explained that he would not celebrate the moment of the national anthem while America did not live out the values of equality and justice that are pillars of its constitutional and moral existence. Many believe this is a disrespect to the flag, the country, veterans, and soldiers. I believe it demonstrates a deeper belief and Love for the best hopes of this country, than those who are more concerned with symbols than substance. If America or Americans are not living the flag, then we should respect those who won’t stand for it.
I am boycotting because NFL owners have shown that black people standing erect during the national anthem is more important than black people lying dead in the streets. In short, every owner, player, fan and casual observer had essentially two choices once Kaepernick gave voice to the systemic oppression and fatal police brutality experienced by black and brown people in this country. They could prioritize a symbol and a song, or they could prioritize the actual lives of the “Americans.” With the exception of Stephen Ross of the Miami Dolphins, who at least supported his players protesting, where has the vocal and public support of the black people that make up 70% of the NFL players been?
I am boycotting the NFL owners because I do not want the voices of white supremacy to be louder than the voices of progress, equality, and Love. Many are convinced this is not a black issue but a business issue. The NFL owners are worried about the distraction and backlash they would receive if they signed Colin Kaepernick. Even if this is true, it is true because there are voices out there who are against Kaerpernick and his protest. There are voices who are willing to boycott the NFL or pull their sponsorship over a song (the National anthem) and a symbol (the standing for the flag). The idea that one’s posture during the singing of a song that is historically racist (read the lyrics of the whole song), is more important than the bullet ridden bodies of black and brown men, women, and BOYS on the street is deeply racist. So, if there are voices so inspired by symbols that they would boycott the NFL, I will be inspired enough by black life and protest to boycott as well. If there are voices willing to stand up against Colin, I choose to be a voice standing for and with him and the cause of unarmed black people being unjustly killed while their killers are being unjustly under-prosecuted.
I almost chose to not boycott. I almost chose to prioritize my being entertained by a game over my standing for a just cause. At some point it hit me that I was allowing my thirst for entertainment to reign more powerful than my thirst for justice. In the end, I want to believe that I am bigger than that, and people’s lives are more important than that. I mean here Colin Kaepernick was willing to risk money, sponsorships, and his job to stand in solidarity with people he actually didn’t even know. Surely, I can give up my choice of entertainment. Ultimately, as a Christian, I claim to follow someone who was murdered, in part, because he stood with the least, the lost, the last the left out, and the left behind. Standing for Kaepernick, who was kneeling for vulnerable lives, won’t even cost me my life. It will only cost me my choice of entertainment. Innocent lives have to be worth at least that.
I Love football, but I will not watch this season until Colin Kaepernick gets signed to a team. And I invite you to join me.
Humbly in Christ’s Love,