I’m sure I’ll get some grief for linking to this, but it’s a perfect story as to why I’m so cynical about the whole uproar over players taking knees during the playing of the national anthem.
In the years following 9/11, professional sports took a healing gesture and transformed it into a way to make money. In 2015, Republican Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake released the report “Tackling Paid Patriotism,” which criticized the deceptive, taxpayer-funded contracts between the Pentagon and virtually every pro sports league. In 2012, the New York Army National Guard paid the Buffalo Bills $250,000 to conduct on-field re-enlistment ceremonies. In 2014, the Georgia National Guard paid the Atlanta Falcons $114,000 to sing the national anthem. In 2015, the Air Force paid NASCAR $1.5 million in part for veterans to shake hands with racing legend Richard Petty. Your tax dollars. At work.
“Yeah I hate to say it, but I wasn’t completely surprised,” Astore says. “But I was disgusted by it. Patriotic displays, they mean a lot more to me when they’re spontaneous. But to learn that these had been paid for — that corporate teams, teams owned by billionaires, basically, were collecting money from the military. Paid for, obviously, by you and me, by the American taxpayer. Well, it was sad.”
American flags are the ultimate Good Housekeeping seal. And thanking veterans for their service disconnects the public from what has been nearly two decades of war. The ballpark ceremony obscures the realities of war and, by focusing on soldiers, inoculates the government from antiwar criticism.
I have no sympathy for the NFL’s current dilemma. It’s a problem those greedheads happily brought on themselves because the money was good, and now that they’ve reaped the whirlwind, they’re frozen on how to escape.
At least nobody’s tried to bribe their way into making college football players appear on the field for the anthem. Hopefully, that’s one “be more like the NFL” tack even the morons running college football are able to resist.