The protest during the playing of the national anthem violates a tradition at sporting events for as long as anyone can remember. It started, as everyone knows, with Colin Kaepernick. That did not sit well with many fans, and when he failed to get hired by any NFL football team, other players started to sit in solidarity with poor Colin. Once President Trump weighed in on the issue, it really caught on and whole teams were kneeling.
Fans, believing that players were disrespecting the flag and the many military men and women who had died defending our freedoms, really got pissed. People started boycotting the games and burning their team gear. Viewership of televised games started falling off dramatically. The Sporting News reported that their surveys showed that fully 1/3 of adults said they were less likely to watch a game because of the protests. A JD Power poll showed that 26% stopped watching because of protests and 24% because of the players off-field behavior. (Note: The USA Today and their “NFL player arrests database” shows there have been 870 arrests of NFL players for everything from DUI and drug possession to assault, domestic violence and murder in the last 17 years.) The ratings for games that had been slipping in recent years are now deteriorating at even more alarming pace.
The NFL is a huge business. TV broadcasters pay $4.6 billion annually to televise the games and they wouldn’t pay that unless they were making a fat profit from advertisers. The value of the average NFL team has grown to $2.4 billion and the average salary for players is $2.1 million with some of the star players getting $20 million or more.
I’ve always believed that it is not a good business strategy to piss off your customers. The fellows that own these teams did not get rich by being stupid so some of teams said “enough” and insisted players stand. The TV networks started not televising the national anthem at the start of the games. That, I think, is a spineless approach but is nonetheless consistent with the way the major networks handle many news items. (If we don’t show it or talk about it, it didn’t happen.)
The players contend that their protests are not about disrespecting the flag and anthem but they are demanding “social justice”. I did not know what social justice is or how we would know when it had been achieved so that players could once again stand for the anthem. I found a number of definitions on the internet, most pretty vague. Two of them sounded intelligible. “Justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunity and privileges within society.” OK, that sounds like socialism to me. The government and its bureaucrats decide what is fair and hands out equal slices of the pie to everyone. I wonder how the best players in the NFL would feel if everyone on their team got the same salary?
This second explanation from the Business Dictionary was: “The fair and proper administration of laws conforming to natural law that all persons irrespective of ethnic origin, gender, possessions or race are treated equally without prejudice.” That definition defies an effort to either understand what is wanted or how to measure improvement.
I believe that this whole thing is just an offshoot of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, a largely political anti-police organization. All the hysteria over the shooting of blacks by the police has had some negative impact of the lives of the innocents who live in the inner cities. Called “The Ferguson Effect” it intimated police into less aggressive policing and the result of that is an increase in black on black murders. Chicago saw a 32% increase in homicides in 2016 and is on track to top 700 murders again in 2017. The reality according to the NY Post is that police are 18.5 times more likely to be killed by black males than the other way around.
The reality is that the inner cities where a lot of these players grew up are disaster zones of crime, dependency and drugs. 64% of the residents are on Federal assistance and 72% of all black births are to unmarried women. The inner city schools are a mess where according to a 2009 NYT piece the 50 largest cities have graduation rates of 53%. Cleveland won the worst prize at 38%. Further studies in 2015 showed little to no improvement. Most of these fatherless young men grow up in hopelessness.
Except for those that win the genetics lottery and have exceptional athletic gifts. Those lucky few can parley those gifts into a free ride at a university where they are pampered, and if extremely fortunate, get drafted into the NFL. Even those that do not make it to the NFL have the opportunity to get a university education and escape the ghetto.
Some others may win the actual lottery and find places in charter schools like Harlem Success Academy. Those children have an improved chance of moving on to college or junior college and making their escape. For the rest…a short life is expected.
So how did the US cities become such a mess? I believe it all started with Lynden Johnson’s “Great Society” which is defined as “a set of programs designed to eliminate poverty and racial injustice”. So how did that work out after 53 years? Not great it seems. It did, however, work out just fine for Democrats. By turning many blacks into a dependent class they insured their loyalty at the ballot box. Blacks vote for the Democrat candidate about 90% of the time.
All major US cities have been controlled by Democrats for decades. Detroit last had a Republican mayor in 1957. For the arithmetic impaired that’s 60 years! Democrats have controlled in Chicago since 1927; St. Louis since 1949; and Philadelphia since 1952. Coupled with graft, cronyism and expensive deals with the public sector unions most of these cities accumulated massive debt. White flight from the cities and the migration of industry to non-union and low tax southern states caused jobs became scarce. Johnson’s dream exploded like an overfilled balloon.
If you ever get lost and accidentally drive through one of these inner city ghettos, you will see what an enormous task it would be to fix it. I have very little optimism it can be done. First, a lot of people like it just the way it is; the public sector unions, especially the teachers’ unions and the politicians. That means they will continue to elect the very same kind of people who created the mess. So waiting for the arrival of Social Justice will be like waiting for Godot.