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Pleading on protests

by Donte Nystrom

What will happen when NFL owners and Commissioner Goodell meet and talk about the issue that has almost, seemingly, ripped the NFL and its fans apart? NFL season pass holders are eligible for refunds, attendance is dropping and so are T.V. ratings. Ask yourself about how many people you know who are protesting the NFL or even watching it. And now ask yourself why? Why are they protesting? Why is anyone protesting? Has this been blown out of proportion?

To be fair, everyone has a right to protest, any way they would like, if it is civil and non-violent, according to the Constitution. That being said, everyone who is protesting right now, has every right to do so. Whether that be kneeling during the national anthem, withholding from watching games or protesting that the players should stand. No matter your preference on the issue, respect others who protest as long as they are protesting in peace. Even if it is not in peace, “kill ‘em with kindness.” But we cannot lose sight of why all of this started.

Last year, Colin Kaepernick decided that he was going to make a stand and take a knee for what he believed needed to be understood. During the national anthem, while everyone stood, Kaepernick kneeled. Although in prior weeks he sat on the bench, he agreed to at least kneel. He knew what he was getting himself into, but he didn’t care. He wanted to make sure the U.S. football audience and the rest of the world knew exactly what he felt was necessary to explain. Black people are treated unequally and unfairly in this country. That is the whole point for this and we must understand that. Today, I don’t think he knew it would quite blow up like this, but it has and now it’s something we all must talk and be educated about.

So far in this season, we’ve seen players kneel, sit on benches and raise their fists during the anthem. We’ve seen teams refuse to walk out, lock arms and been told to stand with hands over their hearts for the anthem. Teams and players have made statements explaining their beliefs and what they believe is right and wrong. We’ve seen a military veteran slammed and shamed so badly that he felt he needed to make a public statement explaining himself as to why he wanted to be on the field for the anthem while his team sat in the locker room. We’ve seen players get shunned and booed for standing up for their cause by kneeling.

Now we’ve got to ask ourselves if we believe in this effort or if we want to shun it. If we decide to believe, do we join in full support? Or may we dare say that this might not be the best stage for this? Granted that the NFL is the best-selling sports entertainment business in America, is this what you want to pay for? Do owners pay players millions of dollars a year to make a statement on the very field they own? These players have every right to express their personal opinions and honestly should not be stopped from doing that. However, I do not believe that this is the right place for the players to be doing this.

Think about it. When you want someone to get on your side when you’re trying to get them to understand you, do you try to make them angry in hopes to sway their opinion? Probably not. Chances are that you try to explain the facts. In the art of persuasion, at least in business, which is what the NFL and its market is, you don’t want to make a scene in the conference room. You try to persuade by using facts and proof that whatever product you’re trying to promote is best and will help anyone and everyone with what they need. I’m not saying that racial discrimination is a product or a business ploy. I’m simply explaining that the best way to get even the most extremely farsighted individuals on your side is not in doing so through a complete slap in the face. Although racial equality is long overdue for our society, it can’t be thrust upon said society in such a controversial way.

Here’s a different example if you don’t like the business analogy: suppose that you know a teacher is grading and treating you unfairly in your homeroom class. Suppose that you’ve had that same teacher for all four years of high school. Now, finally, in protest, you decide that you don’t want to stand, like everyone else, for the Pledge of Allegiance. Tell me, do you think that not only the teacher, but most of the kids in your class, would look at you and imagine that you’re being disrespectful to the flag or the country? No matter if you told them that it was because you were demanding that she treat you fairly? Really think about it for a minute. Chances are you probably got a couple detentions and a lot of people in that class that don’t want to become your friend.

What if instead, you went straight to the teacher and confronted him/her about what is bothering you? Not in a rioting way, but in a peaceful and deliberate way. What if that teacher doesn’t care or listen? Go to someone higher than them. What if they don’t listen? Then you must carry on the actions of being a bigger and better person. Show them love and not war. Give them peace and not chaos to feed from. Give them a reason to be inspired by you, not to be judgmental and spiteful. No one has ever started a war because someone was too nice to them. They may have gotten laughed at or made fun of or even harmed, but showing nothing but kindness can only sway someone’s mind, soul and heart. You can study about the influence of someone else’s behavior on your own behavior in a psychology book or class.

I believe that we can achieve this goal of equality and prosperity for the NFL, its players, owners, coaches, its fans, but moreover, the entirety of the United States. I believe in this cause and I believe that all human beings are equal and deserved to be treated as such. However, I do believe in my heart that there is a much better way to go about this than on the field. The field is meant for football. If players wish to protest, I do hope that they can find a way to reach everyone in a respectful and kind way. The kneeling is fine and is respectable in its own cause, I just believe it’s too controversial of a time and place to be doing it, not just in the U.S, but in any sports entertainment market in any part of the world.

I ask that players go on with protesting for their cause, I just ask that they do it in a more precise way that isn’t so offensive to others. I hope there can be a happy medium so that I can keep watching the sport I love most and not watch it deteriorate right in front of my eyes.

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