Tuesday, August 21, 2018

No, the NFL hasn’t suddenly become “woke”.

January 27, 2018 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Politics, Sports, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) In 2017, the Oxford English Dictionary officially extended the definition of the term woke to also mean “alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice”. It has become a key word in social media use and expanded into the mainstream. Over the past few years, it has become more accepted for professional athletes to get “woke” and express themselves politically. While the NBA’s “woke” athletes and coaches receive some scrutiny for political statements, the athletes in the NFL often draw controversy for being outspoken politically since Colin Kaepernick’s protest in 2016.

In many ways, Kaepernick was the pioneer for today’s politically aware athletes due to his protest during the national anthem and his strong statements regarding police brutality and racial inequality. It appears that the NFL will finally try to change some of the social issues Kaepernick protested against because of some notable announcements by the NFL that are not quite what they seem.

The NFL has recently announced a “Let’s Listen Together” campaign. This campaign is designed to “to improve police and community relations, the criminal justice system, and education and economic advancement for all.” This campaign is the product of a collaboration between NFL owners and a group of NFL players led by Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and retired receiver Anquan Boldin. NFL owners will contribute $89 million over a seven-year period for the initiative. It is possible the NFL could promote the campaign in a similar way the NFL does its various other campaigns like “My Cause, My Cleats” and “Salute to Service”.

The idea around this campaign seems to be to end the national anthem protests that numerous NFL players have continued since 2016. However, the final “Let’s Listen Together” initiative does not include that requirement, in part because the players involved do not represent the more than 1,500 players on NFL teams. In the court of public opinion, it seems that the NFL and NFL owners are bending to NFL protesters during the national anthem by “supporting” their cause financially.

The announcement of this deal will lead many of the public to believe that all NFL players should stand during the national anthem because they are getting “millions of dollars” and a “campaign” for their cause and that they “won”. This agreement makes any NFL player that protests now face different, more challenging questions from the media and public because the NFL is “backing” social “change” through actions and money.

The recent report about that NFL rejected a Super Bowl program ad from a veterans group that called on NFL players to stand was eye-opening. The NFL rarely turns down money and it seems that the decision to turn down money from veterans that is against NFL players protesting during the national anthem makes the NFL seem. American Veterans, or AMVETS, submitted an advertisement last week to the third-party publisher of the Super Bowl game program with the message, “Please Stand”.

The NFL didn’t reject the idea totally, they just wanted AMVETS to change the wording to “Please Honor our Veterans” or “Please Stand for our Veterans.” The NFL didn’t care about the irrationality of comparing the NFL players kneeling and disrespect of American veterans, just the wording of the message. Ultimately, NFL players protesting during the national anthem will not disappear anytime soon because the NFL players continue to see the injustices of the society in which they live.

Staff Writer; Mark Hines

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