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Talk of boycott by NFL players



Updated September 9, 2020, 9:58 AM CT

Player boycott will doom the NFL

       How loyal are you as a fan? Will you stick by your team if players decide to boycott, or will you throw in the towel on yet another sport? That's the proverbial fork-in-the-road the NFL is at with discussions of boycott simmering under the surface.  If they do, they risk fans throwing in the towel the way NBA fans have. NBA playoff TV ratings are down 20% from last year and continuing to fall. 

And let's not get boycott confused with postponing. You may hear the word postpone, but that's to make you as a fan feel better that the players didn't just quit and walk out, which is exactly what they did. Postpone gives it a sugary coating for us to swallow.

The NBA and MLB both boycotted games last week to protest the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Blake, 29, had an outstanding warrant for felony sexual assault, was combative with multiple officers (at one point having an officer in a headlock), was tased twice, had a weapon and was reaching for that weapon, and whose own girlfriend called 911 on him, according to the Kenosha Professional Police Association. Not exactly the type of police brutality to build a boycott around, but I get it. It raises serious questions as to police training and the use of deadly force that needs to be addressed. Better training, more powerful, less lethal equipment... something needs to change. Even an understanding of what resisting arrest means. In each of the recent cases of deadly force (except for Sandra Bland), there was escalated resistance that, in part, has to be considered as a reason why things went south.

Blake remains hospitalized in Wisconsin where the shooting sparked continuing rioting and protests in Kenosha. The Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the court against the Orlando Magic, which spread to other teams, prompting the NBA to call off all playoff games scheduled for last Wednesday. The Milwaukee Brewers then refused to take the field against the Cincinnati Reds, prompting several other teams to do the same. Even TNT NBA commentator Kenny Smith walked off set in support.

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that a greater percentage of Republicans and Democrats agree with the two sides of the question of whether professional athletes should be required to stand for the national anthem.

In an online survey of 1,337 American adults, 81 percent of self-identifying Republicans believe professional athletes should be required to stand for the anthem. Four years ago, a similar poll on the same question resulted in 73 percent of self-identifying Republicans taking the position that pro athletes should stand for the anthem.

For self-identifying Democrats, only 33 percent said pro athletes should be required to stand for the anthem in the 2020 poll. Four years ago, 43 percent of self-identifying Democrats believed pro athletes should be required to stand.

Overall, the number of respondents who believed pro athletes should be required to stand has dropped from 56 percent in 2016 to 54 percent now.

It’s an important set of numbers to consider, because players in significant numbers will be protesting during the anthem this year, starting this week. And it could get worse not better if/when there’s another incident of police violence against an unarmed Black man or woman at some point during the 2020 season, with the looming possibility that players or entire teams will refuse to play games.

Violence erupts

Former New York Jets defensive lineman Michael Faulkner, now a pastor at a Harlem church,  criticized the direction that violent protests have taken under BLM. “It infuriates me as a Black man, a father, and as a minister that radicals are inciting or condoning riots in my name and in the name of our struggle,” Faulkner recently wrote. “Breaking into a department store or throwing objects at police officers, many of whom are Black or Brown, isn’t a protest against racial injustice; it’s criminality.”

Minnesota Vikings S Ameer Abdullah read a statement on behalf of the team on Friday that gives me zero confidence in NFL football happening this season:

"As a social justice coalition, as a group, and as a team, as an organization, we're doing everything we can to build sustainable programs that will help the long-term effects of the lack of economic progress in low-income areas, the lack of mental health support in some of these areas," Abdullah continued. "We're doing everything that we can, but now it's on the bureaucratic system to also meet our intensity, to meet our level of what we're demanding because it only goes so far. It's a two-way street."

So now you have an NFL team acting as a "Social Justice Coalition."

Be careful NFL, choose your next words wisely.



Ran DeBord - All Access Sporting News

 Follow @AASNSports on Twitter, or me, @RanDeBord

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