The NFLPA announced this week it is joining the Alliance for Criminal Justice Reform. This is being done to support legislation currently in the US Senate directly related to the death of George Floyd last summer in Minneapolis. The goal is to lobby an effort to push forward the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act. For good measure, the NFL published a statement in support, and to “help move our society toward a more equal and just tomorrow.”
Welcome to 2021 NFL fans. If you thought the SJW messaging effort of last season was a one-off, you were wrong. The NFL, as well as every other sports league, professional and amateur, are fully locked into the social whims of their players. Most curious, is how fans will respond to another season of moral preening coming off a year that featured a global pandemic, lockdowns, an ugly presidential election, and a nation divided more than ever.
The NFL may not be in a position to weather another season like last year. What happened in Minneapolis devoured the entire sports world. Should it consume 2021, well, that would be a recipe for disaster. If the league can’t see that now, and if Roger Goodell can’t find a pathway to avoid more polarization, the NFL will be in trouble.
NBA And MLB Should Serve As Fair Warning
Hey, the warning signs have been on the wall. In the NBA, where Black Lives Matter adorned every floor they played on, and where players were extremely vocal, especially Lebron James, ratings for the postseason were down 37 percent. Ratings for the finals were down 49 percent. Keep in mind people were still at home. With the overwhelming race war propaganda, fans turned off the NBA.
If you’re an MLB fan, TV ratings were down 32 percent for the World Series, and that was with a major market, Los Angeles, in the mix. Major League Baseball, with Rob Manfred as commissioner, has already launched the first salvo for blowing up the All-Star Game. Manfred, caving to pressure over a reasonable voting rights bill in Georgia, took the game from Atlanta and moved it to Denver. A city and state who has LESS early voting days than Georgia. Manfred sacrificed a franchise and a city that dates back to 1966 for an easy out.
If you are a city or a franchise on deck to host a major sporting event, be cautious. If you dare cross the social media mob or fall on the wrong side of the raging social and race wars, the clock is ticking. For cities and states who have the audacity to stand up to that which benefits their citizenry and not a political narrative, you’re likely to find yourself on an island.
Athletes who wade into advocacy can and will split a franchise. When Drew Brees had the temerity to stand up for patriotism, he nearly lost a locker room. The flag, which is the enemy to the current crop of elite athletes, is persona non grata. Players are either all in on hatred towards a nation that has made them wealthy, or you’re a pariah. There no longer is a middle road. That can’t and won’t bode well for any league whose fan base is already split ideologically.
Players Need To Perform Due Diligence
Understand, fans can read. When athletes like Lebron James weigh in on something purely emotional, like the death of Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old Black girl from Columbus, Ohio, it rightly blew upon his face. James, with no facts in hand and clearly not up to speed on what happened, immediately incited violence towards police with a poorly worded tweet. While he was wise to delete it, the damage had been done. If you can walk away thinking he still has any credibility on a topic like criminal justice, you’re a bigger fool than him.
And therein lies the problem. Today’s athletes, those in the National Football League and others, don’t always do their due diligence. Advocates, corporations, and media types don’t. MLB didn’t. Coca-Cola and Delta have not of late. If one commissioner is willing to bend a knee to the Twitter mob, what other won’t?
For as strong as Goodell was in 2020 during a pandemic, especially in keeping the lights on and conducting business as usual, how will he respond this time? With emotions running at a fever pitch, and facts a secondary concern, who can trust he won’t cower as others have.
Fans won’t stand for it. After a year like 2020, fans are looking for a respite from the daily turmoil this nation has been dragged into. That said, it will be interesting to see if the NFL will be willing to sacrifice half of its fanbase to appease the handsomely paid player and his too-often social and cultural whims.
People can read. People can disagree. If players and leagues continue to indict those that disagree with them, the Golden Goose the NFL has always been will go the route of the NBA.
Hypocrisy being what it is, please keep in mind that both the NBA and MLB have lucrative deals with the CCP (Chinese Communist Party). According to the Economic Times, more than three million Uyghurs have been put into concentration camps in China, due to their ethnic identity. For Lebron James, Greg Popovich, Steve Kerr, and Adam Silver, to ignore that is significant.
The same can be said for Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball, who recently entered into an agreement with the CCP for a streaming service. Having said all that, how much can we really trust that America’s glorified athletes get it right on topics like policing and criminal justice reform if they miss what is happening in China?
The current culture and race wars that have swallowed the NFL and professional sports won’t end well. At some point, an adult in the room will need to create a reasonable separation from those who seek social media glory, while simultaneously maintaining a smart business plan. The commissioner willing to stand up to the mob in his own league will bear a heavy toll, but he will likely save those players from their own foolish vanity. Ultimately, saving their professional livelihood.