No Time Out in Battle Over Football

No_Time_Out_in_Battle_Over_Football No Time Out in Battle Over Football

No Time Out in Battle Over Football

For generations, football was the most unpolitical and un-ideological of pastimes in America. Indeed, it was a point of unity that overcame political differences and fostered healthy local rivalries. Not liking football was almost un-American.

Now times are changing in our nation. Nothing can be left untouched by the liberal keepers of the culture. Even football is becoming political and finding itself on the front lines of America’s Culture War.

The Antics of Colin Kaepernick

The offensive attack began last year when Americans were shocked by the antics of quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He started the practice of dropping to one knee or sitting during the playing of the national anthem as a sign of protest against racial violence.

Kaepernick did the unthinkable. He interjected politics into the sports scene. Worse, he insulted the flag and those who defend it, by refusing to stand before it.

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By his protest, Americans saw that the ceremony surrounding the game was more than just a feel-good thing. The quarterback’s defiant action touched sentiments deep inside the American soul that speak to us about love of country, freedom, service, and the blessings of God upon our nation.

A Healthy Reaction

Many reacted to the unpatriotic gesture by rejecting the quarterback and even the football league. Kaepernich lost his job, and everyone knows that no team wants to risk hiring him for fear of the ire of the fans. Many offended Americans simply stopped attending or watching the National Football League games.

This season, everyone hoped that the matter would be over and the games could go ahead once again as normal.

However, there is no time out. As many as two dozen players have chosen to kneel or raise their fists in the air in protest at this year’s pre-season games.

Americans have the obligation to honor their country. Being a citizen brings not only benefits but the duties of reverence, honor, and aid.

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett remained seated with a towel over his head during the national anthem at the team’s pre-season opener with Los Angeles Chargers. At another pre-season game, Oakland Raider Marshawn Lynch sat on a cooler while holding a banana during the anthem. Numerous other players knelt while fellow players showed support by putting their hands upon their shoulders.

NFL_Football_Referee_Rules_Honor No Time Out in Battle Over Football

Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should… Disrupting the game by failing to respect the flag and anthem, should be treated like any other improper behavior that is banned.

The problem is not going away as the football stadium is now the theater of political dissent.

A Case of Political Suicide

The NFL has everything to gain by banning these practices. It is certainly within the rights of club owners to discipline their players. They have banned similar actions of improper dress, gestures or behavior on the playing field.

However, the club owners and managers are not clamping down. In an act of political suicide, they are caving in to the politically correct tyranny now sweeping the nation. Not even the almighty dollar can influence their decisions as they are losing money by their refusal. They allow the behavior because they do not have the courage to stand up for principle.

And the principle is this: Americans have the obligation to honor their country. Being a citizen brings not only benefits but the duties of reverence, honor, and aid.

Should a person disrupt the game by failing to respect the flag and anthem, the owners should treat it like any other improper behavior that they can and do it.

The Practice of Piety

The debate over the anthem is a symptom of a greater problem—a lack of piety toward the country. The Church teaches that love of country is part of the virtue of piety. It is derived from justice. Piety inclines us to render to our parents and our country all the acts of honor, service, and gratitude that are due to them. It can even lead us to give our lives for our country if need be.

Deriving from justice, the virtue of piety inclines us to render to our parents and our country all the acts of honor, service, and gratitude that are due to them.

We sin against piety by an exaggerated nationalism that disdains the qualities of other nations. We can also sin against piety by an exaggerated individualism in which we fail to respect and serve our country in any way we can. This can include disrespecting symbols like the flag or the national anthem that represents the moral commitment to the common good of the nation.

The Legitimate Role of Protest

This love of country, of course, does not mean we cannot disagree with or even protest against the policies of the government. However, we must make the necessary distinction between the nation and the government.

One thing is the nation that forms a cultural, social, economic, and political unity over the course of centuries. Like the institution of the family, the nation tends toward union, peace, and community through shared goals and ideals. Yet another thing is the government, which is the political system and institutions by which a State is administered and regulated. The government is the means by which we resolve our disagreements and protests.

Thus, virtuous protest should respect the common good of the nation. It should not offend others needlessly. It should ardently desire solutions within the institutions of order. Just as a son respects his parents even when they have defects, so should we show piety toward the nation when protesting the shortcomings of our government.

Is It Protest or Revolution?

This is why the kneeling football players are wrong. They needlessly insult those who have defended or died for the flag. They do not propose any concrete solutions for the problems they protest. They insinuate that the problem is not a governmental policy but that America herself is wrong and irredeemable. If the latter is the case, their aim is not protest but revolution—and Americans need to be aware of it.

NFL_Football_American_Flag_Honor_Rules No Time Out in Battle Over Football

By their Kaepernick-like antics they insinuate that the problem is not a governmental policy but that America herself is wrong and irredeemable. If the latter is the case, their aim is not protest but revolution.

Indeed, the football controversy has all the characteristics of a typical liberal maneuver against the nation. It has always been a tactic to exploit a crisis to convince others they are oppressed by a whole system that must be radically changed. In this case, however, they have wildly succeeded in convincing millionaire football players that they are oppressed.

Liberals have long perceived the importance of culture to push forward their agenda. Now it is national football’s turn to be utilized as a tool of revolution, even if it means destroying the sport as we now know it.

*          *          *

One of the unexpected surprises of the Culture War is that it is teaching Americans to look beyond the materialistic notion that life exists merely for our pleasure. It forces us to reject a shallow culture, full of gadgets and social media, that is detached from political, metaphysical or religious meaning.

Americans are finding out that this concept of life is wrong. Culture matters. Everything has meaning. Even the most unpolitical topics of life, like football, suddenly appear profound and find themselves on the front lines of the cultural battlefield. There is no time out in this struggle. We need to trust in God and engage in the fight—even when it appears on the gridiron.

 

As seen on Crisis Magazine.

 

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  • Dale McNamee

    I’m very glad that I never developed an interest in sports ( “pro”, college, high school, etc. )…

    As the Scripture states : ” I will set no worthless thing before my eyes “…

  • FourthEye

    This is a difficult one. It’s popped up many times before, especially during games like the revived Olympics which were meant to bring nations together in the spirit of sport. In the 1980s the United States as a nation was itself guilty of injecting politics into sport by boycotting the Russian Olympics because Russia had invaded Afghanistan. Nor could the Unites States claim to hold the moral high ground in this instance, as they had themselves invaded numerous countries over the years. The Russians, feeling miffed, boycotted the LA Olympics in 1984 for much the same reason. Then there were calls to bar Russia from recent Olympics because of Putin’s policies on homosexuality. In fact, a summary glance at the Olympics shows a litany of such politicking.

    A second consideration is whether it is even appropriate to have national anthems and flags at sporting events. Could they be held without these symbols? I appreciate the argument John Horvat is making about duty to one’s country etc., but when he writes ‘it was almost un-American to dislike football’ we see how easily the line can be crossed from ‘duty’ to ‘politics’. Do I hear an echo of Senator McCarthy ‘Congressman, what are your views on football?’

    While it might be currently true many Americans like football, tastes change. Can one be American and not like football? Who decides what it means to be ‘American’? Many Americans of Japanese ancestry found themselves interned in America during WW2 as it was (mostly wrongly) assumed their Japanese ancestry (even if a generation or two in the past) made them suspect and un-American.

    And what is a flag, but a piece of coloured cloth? Of course, we accept that piece of coloured cloth has meaning – it represents in symbolic form, a nation, a collective of people, ideals, values and so on.

    But what are those values, ideals and nation, exactly? Are they something static, like a Norman Rockwell painting frozen in time, or have they changed? What does that flag now represent? Of course it represents many good things (IMHO) such as family, hard work, can-do spirit, helping neighbours and so on. But apparently for many people it has also come to be associated with mass shootings, police brutality, neo-colonial militarism, racism, a two-tier society in which extreme poverty exists alongside fabulous wealth (and to dare point this out is taken to be ‘communist’ and ‘un-American’ even though it is actually a very Christian criticism to make), a fabulously wealthy country that cannot manage to provide basic, effective hospital cover even for less-well-off people who desperately need it (i.e people waiting on life-saving surgery etc).

    So while it is all very well to argue we should be patriotic to our flag and country, we still have to ask what that means.

    Perhaps the real conversation we should be having here is ‘what is it exactly we are being patriotic and loyal to?’ Because to ignore this question is to be blindly loyal, and one may find oneself ‘loyal’ to the very opposite of everything one holds dear; because while our values may not have changed, the values of the nation may have changed. Are we sure they are still what they once were?

    The question is, what position do you take? Do you take the position that sports and politics absolutely should not be mixed, and perhaps extend that even to doing away with the symbols that divide us (flags and borders) and leave only the teams’ colours to show sides.

    Or do you believe sport is a legitimate arena for political protest, as much as any area of life? If you argue that it is not, then let us apply the same consideration to religion. Can sport be an arena for religious protest? If a country hosting the Olympics were persecuting Christians, would it be reasonable to call for a boycott of their games on those grounds, until they ‘got their house in order first’?

    These are not easy questions. I turn to Christ for an answer ‘My kingdom is not of this world’. Good governance, duty to one’s country etc., – all these are worthwhile qualities. But we need to be vigilant to what our symbols mean at all times, what our government and nation represents. If we make the Kingdom of Heaven our real and only loyalty we will not go far wrong, and we will remain above and untouched by such mundane considerations.