Trump vs the NFL: The Hatfields and McCoys revisited

There are plenty of excuses floating around to justify the NFL "take the knee" controversy. Most of them are absurdly weak.

Cartoon by Branco. (Reproduced with permission and by arrangement. See below.)*

CHARLOTTE, N.C., September 27, 2017 — When Colin Kaepernick sat for the first time during the National Anthem, everyone at least knew what he was protesting about.

Today, the NFL and the NBA have descended to a point where no one can remember why football players are kneeling. Is it to protest social injustices committed by police and others against blacks and other minorities? Is it about the military? Is it an expression of hate and disrespect for the country that made most of those athletes multi-millionaires?

What exactly is the problem?

Whatever it is, it has become a major non-story media event that has snowballed out of control. It has evolved into an show of outright mutual disgust between professional athletes and President Trump.

Trump’s pointed comments and tweets on the issue have only served to inflame the situation, his typical modus operendi. He continues to agitate, which is divisive. But Trump did not create the controversy. He was not the first to stir the pot.

Now, two professional sports leagues are showing their displeasure. But in truth, the root cause of the argument has more to do with team unity than with personal beliefs.

In baseball, it has long been an unwritten rule that when a fight erupts on the field, both benches empty as every available player enters the fray. Most of the time, baseball battles involve little more than shirt tugging, pushing and comments such as “How’s the wife and kids?” That’s most of the time, unless the fight is between two players who have truly had enough of each other.

Has anyone ever analyzed why players charge the mound? It’s because if they don’t, they’ll quickly find themselves in the doghouse, not the dugout, for failing to support their teammates.

The current NFL protest is no different. Teams are now “taking a knee” during the National Anthem to show solidarity against a president who never learned the art of diplomacy.

To justify these disputes with the tired excuse of growing up poor in the slums without parental supervision is a cop out that evades very real issues. Plenty of Americans are poor, but United States poor is not the same as Haiti poor, Bangladesh poor or Kenya poor. About two-thirds of the world is poor in ways that don’t remotely resemble being poor in the U.S.

Voices influencing American culture take a knee, America doesn’t care

NBA and Cleveland Cavalier great LeBron James recently declared that the United States is a disgrace to the world, or something to that effect. Could he please tell us which country has done more for the good of humankind—and LeBron James—than the United States?

Are we perfect? No. But growing up poor has nothing to do with the ability of our citizens to show respect for the flag and to honor the very nation that made LeBron James a household word.

Our nation has been divided along racial, ethnic and religious lines for a long time. Impossibly wealthy players who take a knee to protest the National Anthem while doing little to nothing to support the plight of those they claim to defend do those people a grave injustice.

Has a single player protest eased the plight of the poor and downtrodden? What have these ostentatious, on-field displays of compassion done to alleviate the problems of a single disadvantaged inner city child? LeBron James makes millions of dollars each year. Colin Kaepernick was no slouch in the salary department before he wore out his NFL welcome. Why don’t both these wealthy individuals put their checkbooks on the line early and often?

How many of the athletes showing their displeasure with the country on Sunday afternoons actually served their country in the military? The number is small.

Donald Trump did not divide our nation. For all of his faults and silly tweets, it was not Trump who changed the mood of the country, except when he got himself elected against the wishes of liberal Democrats who were comfortable in power.

Growth to taxes, reasons to support President Trump’s tax plan

It might be wise to check former President Barack Obama’s proven record for divisiveness after he ran for president in 2008 on a promise to be a “uniter, not a divider.” How did that work out for America? Obama constantly chastised the very people who put him in office if they did not unquestioningly agree with him on any issue.

The View’s Joy Behar laughably claims that the United States never had a North Korean nuclear problem until Trump came to power. That’s more idiotic than anything the president has ever tweeted. And which president made a ridiculously disadvantageous nuclear agreement with Iran and covered it up by claiming it was negotiated with “peaceful Muslims?” It wasn’t Donald Trump.

When professional athletes line up in solidarity for a cause, it is not much different than a brother taking up for his sister when somebody calls her ugly. The brother might very well have used the same word before he left his house that morning, but for him it was all right; he’s family.

When it comes to political beliefs and racial issues, there is a cancerous double standard in our country that has been festering untreated for a long time. It erupted when Trump unexpectedly won the election, throwing the elite and privileged left out of power.

Whatever happened to common sense that once made our country the envy of the world? We will never be perfect. Nor will any other nation for that matter. The difference should be that as Americans, we should never cease striving to be the best.

Taking a knee is not the way to do it.

*Cartoon above by Branco. Used with permission and by arrangement with LegalInsurrection.


About the Author: Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award-winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.

Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (
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