Colin Kaepernick And The Power Of Sports To Transform America

Donald Trump and Mike Pence are steadily using their bully pulpit like The Gooch in Diff’rent Strokes, and obviously Roger Goodell and team owners like the Cowboys’ Jerry Jones and the Washington football team’s Dan Snyder are shook like Arnold Drummond.

NFL players are now being threatened and basically ordered to stand for the national anthem, with this false narrative that has morphed from the real issues – police brutality and societal inequities – now being drowned out by a gauntlet being thrown down by those in power about patriotism and love of country that has been fashioned in such a way that it has become a sanctimonious morality play that is dangerously bordering on the religious.

Goodell, the NFL Commissioner, sent a letter to all 32 teams laying out the leagues stance on social justice protests during the national anthem, and his desire to reach a resolution at next weeks league meeting. 

The Shadow League on Twitter

Here is the statement Roger Goodell sent to NFL owners.

But when you boil it down, he’s more concerned about the alienation of uneducated, uninformed fans who want their players to “just stick to sports” and, more importantly, the financial ramifications of what can ensue if the issue is not resolved.

Speaking of “the issue”, let’s examine that for a moment. Goodell writes, “The current dispute over the National Anthem is threatening to erode the unifying power of our game, and is now dividing us, and our players, from many fans across the country.”

But the dispute was never about the national anthem, Mr. Commissioner. So why do you continue to maintain the inaccurate depiction of what’s really happening here. So no, Roger! No Roger! No Rerun! No Rent!

Goodell then goes on to write, “Im very proud of our players and owners who have done the hard work over the past year to listen, understand and attempt to address the underlying issues within their communities. At our September committee meetings, we heard directly from several players about why these issues are so important to them and how we can support their work. And last week, we met with the leadership of the NFLPA and more players to advance the dialogue.”

But he never specifically mentions what those issues are. Don’t you find that peculiar?

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell: ‘Everyone Should Stand’ For The National Anthem

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote a letter to the 32 NFL teams saying that he believes “everyone should stand” for the National Anthem. Subscribe to HuffPost today: Get More HuffPost Read: Like: Follow:

So let’s drill down a little bit further. The most lucrative North American sports league is now interested in resolving “the issue”, which in actuality isn’t the issue at all. 

The NFL is a dirty business, given its well-chronicled and horrific treatment of its players as it relates to having the least contract guarantees of any league, its Jedi Mind Trick on retired players’ medical benefits, enabling and encouraging opioid addictions to get those injured warriors back on the physically debilitating assembly line, along with its denial and discrediting the research which shined a terrifying light on the game’s CTE epidemic

The majority of the NFL’s talent pool is drawn from impoverished communities where systematic racism and societal inequity reign supreme. It is their muscle and talents that enable the owners to reap their robust profits, and yet those within the power structure insist on treating them like cattle and property to be worked and manipulated as they see fit. 

So the owners and powers that be see no problem in their paternalistic insistence that their workers suppress their manhood, dignity, pride and desire to bring about positive change. Instead, they better stay in their place and honor a tradition with jingoistic undertones that, in part, was paid for by the Department of Defense to serve as a marketing and recruitment tool during every NFL game.

Trump is waging an all-out assault on the movement that Colin Kaepernick re-ignited, saying, “You cannot disrespect our country, our flag, our anthem, you cannot do that.”

Donald Trump mocks John McCain

Donald Trump’s mocking of Arizona Sen. John McCain has Republican leaders outraged. He insinuated McCain wasn’t a real war hero because he was captured during the Vietnam War. Meg Oliver reports on the fallout.

That’s a pretty peculiar statement from a man who once Tweeted in January, “Peaceful protests are a hallmark of our democracy. Even if I don’t always agree, I recognize the rights of people to express their views.”

It’s also rather illuminating since Kap’s silent protest, as has been said ad naseum, was never about the flag to begin with. 

Trump’s diarrhea of the lip has been leaking out of his sloppy, floppy neck for decades, so it’s no surprise that he has disrespected the country and the flag more than any current NFL player taking a knee. 

His comments about John McCain not being worthy of respect due to having his plane shot down and being a prisoner of war in Vietnam, and his idiotic tossing of paper towels at Puerto Ricans suffering from the destruction of Hurrican Maria are prime examples.

Fox News on Twitter

EXCLUSIVE: “You cannot disrespect our country” @POTUS interview w/ @seanhannity on Fox News Channel tonight at 9p ET

Gotta love the audacity, don’t you?

If you’re a student of the African-American platform in sports and how it’s been used to level the field, in both competition and the larger context of American society, you’ll see a pattern that’s hard to deny. 

As this issue morphs into one of the most significant developments along this continuum of athlete activism, I took a visit earlier this week to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture to check out the exhibit on how Blacks in sport have utilized their talents and platforms to make a profound impact on society.

It’s an important installation to take in for a deeper, cursory understanding of how these important, symbolic figures took their activism – in the great American tradition of protest and revolt to bring about change – to the courtrooms, the newsrooms, the boardrooms and inside living rooms. 

The great heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson, who held the prestigious title from 1908 to 1915 and was the first Black man to do so, is a great place to start, because he refused to be portrayed as anything less than a man. His accomplishments, and subsequent refusal to play by society’s racist rules, was a certifiable threat to the American social order. 

At the time, he was the most famous and notorious African-American man on earth, who challenged the racial order to such a degree that his victories over white opponents inspired hate-filled white mobs to actually kill Black people while terrorizing their communities. 

Unforgivable Blackness | PBS America

PBS America – Sky 166 / Virgin Media 243 / This film by Ken Burns tells the story of one of the greatest boxers of all time and his refusal to accept the rules of a society that considered people of his colour to be second-class citizens.

Race riots erupted in New York, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Atlanta, St. Louis, Little Rock and Houston, and in more in more than 25 states and 50 cities when he humiliated and knocked former champion Jim Jeffries into next week.

Johnson was later marginalized, imprisoned and financially ruined as punishment for not knowing and refusing to stay in his place. It’s important that we study him and others like Paul Robeson, Jesse Owens, Joe Louis, Jackie Robinson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Jim Brown, Althea Gibson, Muhammad Ali, Wilma Rudolph, Arthur Ashe and so many others to fully comprehend the African American presence in sports and the unique social and political consequences that they suffered in speaking out.

To hear Trump and his NFL cronies delve into revisionist history, they’ll tell you that Ali, and the likes of John Carlos and Tommie Smith who raised their fists on the medal stand at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, were protesting the military, the flag, the anthem and America, not some silly excuse they put forth about injustice and inequity at home. 

Sports has always mattered beyond the playing field. But yet, Trump, his followers and NFL cronies insist on this twisted focus on patriotism while disparaging Black athletes for being tired of America brutalizing them physically, historically, economically and emotionally.

Freedom for Gold – Gold Medal Moments: Tommie Smith

Tommie Smith and John Carlos shocked the world in 1968 when they raised their fists wearing black gloves in a black power salute during the medal ceremony at the Mexico City Olympics.

Trump is a liar. That’s been well proven. And he’s lying now in saying that this issue is not about race. It’s positively, absolutely around race, along with his disdain for people of color simply asking for their just due. 

He is unwilling and mentally unable to acknowledge the racial issues behind Kap taking a knee. And Jerry Jones, Dan Snyder and other NFL owners who are now insisting that their property – my bad, their players – stand for the anthem just weeks after the charade of standing arm-in-arm with them on the sidelines is beyond infuriating.

The implication has forever been ingrained that black NFL players earn their exorbitant salaries due to the largesse of white team owners, who benevolently give them the “privilege” of playing football, as opposed to their hard work, sacrifice and mastery of the sport.

Trump continues to show his true colors in condemning black NFL players engaged in peaceful protest, yet has no words of condemnation for torch-carrying white supremacists who brought their sick, evil agenda back to Charlottesville recently.

Donald J. Trump on Twitter

It is about time that Roger Goodell of the NFL is finally demanding that all players STAND for our great National Anthem-RESPECT OUR COUNTRY

Sports has always led to social change, and whether or not Trump, Pence, conservative NFL owners and morons screaming for people to stand for the anthem realize it, they are empowering and emboldening this growing sentiment among today’s athlete-activists that the next stage in this fight for humanity has only just begun.

There is a chronological explanation of African-American athletic activism that began in slavery and continued through segregation, integration and this current age of technological innovation and commercialization. But Trump and his boys are playing from the time-worn playbook of marginalization.

Paul Robeson: On colonialism, African-American rights (Spotlight, ABC,1960)

For more great educational video clips, go to

Colin Kaepernick has to be somewhere smiling right now, because his protest was about making America live up to its promise of being a more fair and equitable place for people of color. As much as Trump and the NFL tries to fight that, the more their hypocrisy becomes exposed. 

Sports has long proven to have the power to change the world, from Jesse Owens and Joe Louis’ crippling of the ludicrous concept of Aryan superiority, to Arthur Ashe’s call to condemn and destory apartheid.

Something big is happening right now. Sports is once again transforming society, making people uncomfortable. 

True, life-altering change never happens within the confines of comfortability. And judging by Trump and the NFL’s escalating disagreeable nature and their unbearable intolerance toward truth, liberty and justice for all, we’re on the verge of finally cracking through the walls in this fight for legitimacy, acceptance and the social condemnation of centuries worth of evil oppression toward something more substantive. 

And that’s claiming our place and humanity, not simply demanding an empty accounting but rather a full examination and reconciliation.

John Fugelsang on Twitter

Boy if this California wildfire damage gets any worse Donald Trump will be forced to condemn NFL police brutality protests even more.

Jack Johnson said it long ago, and Trump and his NFL boys ain’t trying to hear it over a hundred years later. They can bathe in their alternative facts all they want. 

The fact remains that the genie is out of the bottle. And it ain’t never going back in.

“I’m Jack Johnson. Heavyweight champion of the world. I’m black. They never let me forget it. I’m black all right! I’ll never let them forget it!”

Or as Paul Robeson once said almost 60 years ago, “There’s a lot of America that belongs to me yet.”

Stay tuned. Trump wants to extinguish the flame. But Kaepernick and this new wave of athlete activism has only just begun

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