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Are You Ready for Some Political Football?

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Are You Ready for Some Political Football?

The Wall Street Journal September 9, 2020
OtherCulture & Society

This year the NFL will penalize itself for past unnecessary roughness against Colin Kaepernick with a social-justice blitz.

If you were counting on the start of the pro football season this week to offer some respite from a long hot summer of nasty politicking and violent street protests, don’t kid yourself. In an act of cowardice masquerading as wokeness, the National Football League has decided to follow its baseball and basketball counterparts and bow to Black Lives Matter activists.

In June, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell apologized for the league’s earlier hard-line stance against kneeling during the national anthem. Last week the league announced that it will pay obeisance by displaying social-justice slogans in end zones and playing the “black national anthem,” “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” before games. Players will be permitted not only to boycott “The Star-Spangled Banner” but to sit out entire games if they feel the need.

Even uniforms will showcase the higher consciousness of multimillionaire black athletes who want to lecture the rest of us on racial inequality. Players, coaches and referees “can choose either a name of a victim or one of four preferred phrases the NFL has approved: ‘Stop Hate’; ‘It Takes All Of Us’; ‘End Racism’; or ‘Black Lives Matter,’” according to the Associated Press. “Each week, the NFL will feature the story of a victim of social or racial injustice or police brutality and tell that person’s story ‘in and around’ the games, the league said.”

Football is America’s favorite spectator sport, and the NFL has determined that many fans are tuning in for the political theater, not just the touchdowns. If Mr. Goodell is wrong about that, he’ll find out soon enough. Average television viewership for regular season games fell to fewer than 15 million in 2017 from 18.7 million two years earlier, and the initial player protests led by Colin Kaepernick were cited as a factor in the dip. The audience has since increased, but the average number of viewers last year was still 2.2 million fewer than it was in 2015.

Continue reading the entire piece here at The Wall Street Journal (paywall)


Jason L. Riley is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, and a Fox News commentator. Follow him on Twitter here.

Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images