EDITORIAL - Professional football fans were treated to some relief last Thursday evening as the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears stood arm in arm for the singing of the National Anthem. People in the stands either did likewise or put their hands over their hearts. Americans felt proud but mostly relieved.
Owners of the National Football League teams employ the players. Some of the owners obviously are okay with whatever the players do during the national anthem. I wonder how the owners would feel if a player decides they are simply going to let the other team score in order to make a statement? What if they decide they are going to stand back and watch while the other team kicks the field goal? Or what if they want to wear their own style of uniform? There are rules and expectations by the league and every team owner. The owners need to step up and be owners.
The players are being paid and their job starts when they walk into the stadium and put on their uniform. What if a player wants to make a political statement by simply refusing to catch a pass? Where does it end? Players work for owners. If owners don't care then fans have to decide if they don't care and support the team or move their loyalty, money and support to another team. Fans always have options. Players average almost 3 million a year based on advertising and ticket sales.
I totally support freedom of speech. I also support being a good employee. The owners and the league have to work this out and the fans have to decide who or what they can support. Fans as a whole will determine the future of the game and just how much politics they can stand at sporting events.
I am hoping that all participates of sports in America will show up to play the game this weekend. It has been reported that the Denver Broncos will be standing Sunday as Chicago and Green Bay did Thursday.
If athletes want to go out on the street and yell and scream or get on their knees after the game then let it be. This is where other Americans have to protest.
My wife and I went into a restaurant to eat today. We had a peaceful enjoyable meal. None of the servers or cooks made any political remarks or political gestures that I saw.
We went into a large grocery store and bought a few groceries. We walked the aisles and bought our food without any of the grocery store employees making any political speeches or political gestures. I would never expect to hear or see political commentary in a restaurant or a grocery store.
There should be other places where Americans can tune the daily cares of life out and think about something else. Sporting events should be one of those places where we can enjoy athletic competition, a hot dog and a fun time with family and friends. It should be a place where we can come together and for just a brief moment enjoy and celebrate being United Americans, even if only for a moment.
Glenn Mollette is a syndicated columnist and author of twelve books.
He is read in all fifty states.