I married into a Pittsburgh family. Not just any Pittsburgh family, but a die-hard Steeler family. Twenty years ago our wedding rehearsal dinner was held at a fancy restaurant atop Mt. Washington that looked into the old Three Rivers Stadium. The bright stadium lights were turned on in tribute to our eventual doomed marriage (we’re friends today … it’s all good).
In the mid-’90s, with no home team, I adopted the winningest football club in the NFL that brought us legends such as Green, Bradshaw, Harris, Swann, and Lambert. Today’s Steelers are continuing the tradition of winning with future Hall of Famers Roethlisberger, Bell, and Brown, among others. Living on the West Coast over the last two decades, the only option to see every Pittsburgh game was to invest in the Sunday Ticket package which costs a few hundred hard-earned ducats. My family doesn’t spend much at the movies, shell out for pay-per-view events, and thankfully outgrew video games, but DirectTV would get our perennial donation so we could watch the majesty that is Steelers football.
No matter what else is going on in their world, each autumn Sunday my kids with their Mom and Hudson “the wonder retriever,” bleed black and gold. The meals are prepared ahead, the phone isn’t answered, and don’t even think about changing the channel. Seriously. One Sunday with Pittsburgh comfortably ahead, I had the audacity to turn to another game and … well, let’s just say Dad had to find ice for his bruised stubby fingers.
My oldest son, currently a high school sports reporter, podcaster, radio reporter, future political and sports journalist (the anti-Keith Olberman), hopes to be writing in Washington DC during the next presidential election cycle. I asked his opinion of the NFL “Take A Knee” brouhaha. 17-year-olds don’t talk all that much unless they are interested in something. He immediately remarked “The First Amendment consists of ‘freedom of speech’ and this (kneeling) is a form of freedom of speech. As much as you disagree with someone, it is their individual constitutional right to kneel as they please. Now if the NFL says they must stand, that’s another issue. But each player has the individual freedom to choose to kneel. These freedoms are what we send people to fight for.”
I understand that point of view, and he isn’t alone. If you scroll through Twitter, millions support the players by repeating my son’s opinion.
However, I view the NFL as a business and its players as employees. The goal for this business is to get as many eyeballs as possible as they are renumerated through sponsors who will pay only if people are watching. As we learned in B-School: “The number one goal of a business, before anything else, is to make a profit” (Peter Drucker). Football, with all its history and pageantry, is still just a game, played to entertain its fans. The NFL has a phenomenal business model providing hours of excitement and advertisers will pay handsomely to sell to those same fans.
After yesterday’s divisive spectacle of 200 players kneeling, we now know people turned off their televisions and went outside. People are angry. In fact, the top-grossing NFL jersey sold over the past 24 hours is former Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva, who served three tours of duty in Afghanistan. Steelers #78 was the only player to ignore Pittsburgh Head Coach Mike Tomlin who had the entire team stay in the locker room instead of deciding for themselves whether they would disrespect the National Anthem on the field.
Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers jerseys are being outsold today by a player most had not heard of until 24 hours ago.
Many on the right feel that politics, especially for those of us who live and breathe it, needs to be compartmentalized for the enjoyment of other activities if not for our sanity. That not everything should be viewed through the lens of partisanship as, well, we need our fun too.
Unfortunately, escaping politics has become almost impossible. We can no longer watch a program, read an article, or even go to religious services without politics being injected by an actor, athlete, commentator, or clergy.
- I went whale watching earlier last spring and the boat captain complained over the loudspeaker about some environmental policies because … Trump (who had been in office 2 months). So, passengers loudly complained and then vocally booed the captain.
- At last week’s Rosh Hashana services, our soon to be ex-Rabbi decided to throw another bomb into the sanctuary (I wrote about his first bomb last year) with regard to his complaints about Israel’s policies toward the settlements. His hatred toward Prime Minister Netanyahu is vitriolic and his sermons have become nothing more than progressive claptrap that causes anger at a time we are supposed to be opening our hearts to prayer. So, he will be leaving our sanctuary next spring.
- I turned down concert tickets to see one of my former favorite singers, Roger Waters perform his new album and some classic Pink Floyd music simply because of his hatred toward this President, Israel, and conservatives. I wasn’t alone, so his new album failed.
- The Emmys/OscarsSoWhite/Espys have become a progressive Gatlin gun aimed at patriotic Americans by Hollywood’s elite whose auto-erotica was always annoying, but now they don’t even attempt to hide their disdain for those that feed them. So, people are no longer going to see their movies.
- A single friend sent me this online dating profile earlier this year remarking the growing challenge finding normal girls who don’t think this way:
So, my friend said he’s done with trying to meet girls online and is going old school… “Dude, the girls are at Church!”
- “Sprinkles,” apparently a business that just sells cupcakes (yes, that’s a thing now), posted their support for the NFL social justice warrior players on their Facebook page.
So there’s now an angry bunch of folks who will either get their carbs elsewhere or better yet, stop going to the Ye’ Olde Glutton Shoppes altogether.
If the goal for social justice warriors is to permeate the consciousness of everyone, everywhere, then they have succeeded. If their goal is to change hearts and minds, they are failing miserably.
Their nebulous cause (Police violence? Black Lives Matter? Trump? Does anyone really know?) isn’t what people are talking about. People are simply grousing they don’t want politics mixed in with their escapism. Sunday is for football.
While my family is unlikely to turn off the Steelers anytime soon, they may represent a minority. Calls for an NFL boycott are growing and Reuters reports that 72 percent of NFL fans disagree with players taking a knee.
The social justice warriors graduated college with the gender studies degrees and now, from their boardrooms on Madison Avenue, are poisoning our country with their hatred of all things we normals enjoy. Corporate America is allowing this for, what I would assume, is a misguided attempt to talk with the next generation of customers. But, in an effort to increase their demographics, or more likely fearing the SJW’s wrath if they do not tow the progressive line, they are marginalizing the rest of us, which will result in losing us forever.
It’s not the ’70s or ’80s when we only had three TV stations. We have other sports, games, and activities we can do. Outside of my own family, for most people football just isn’t that important anymore.
It’s time for corporations to remove themselves from the divisive politics. Let us at least have one day a week where we can come together and do something rare. Have fun.
As featured on Ricochet.com.