This past Sunday I did something I’ve never intentionally done on a Sunday post-Labor Day: I didn’t watch football. In fact I watched everything but football to resist the temptation of tuning in – Princess and the Frog, Pelham 123, the same 9/11 documentary that runs every year around this time but seems to get longer and more depressing, and weathermen and women struggling to stand upright while reporting live from the eye of Hurricane Irma as if we won’t take them or the storm seriously unless they offer themselves as a sacrifice on air. Suffice to say I would have much rather been watching football, but not this year, and not after last year.
To be clear, I’m not boycotting the NFL for Colin Kaepernick – his situation is just the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. I’m boycotting the NFL as a protest to a culture that celebrates and rewards violence (both within and without the sport), but penalizes and punishes peaceful demonstrations against violence.
I’m boycotting the NFL to protest its unilateral power structure built upon player disenfranchisement of mostly black men who on average are paid the least of any major professional sports athlete (save MLS players) over the shortest career, despite enduring the most bodily harm in sports – yet generate the most revenue of any professional sport in the U.S. to the benefit of majority white owners, GMs, and coaches who’ve never lined up between the hashmarks.
I’m boycotting the NFL to protest its silence on Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) that has been directly linked to football through scientific research of the donated brains revealing 110/111 (99%) of former NFL players tested positive for CTE, as well as 3/14 who played at the high school level (21.4%), 48/53 who played in college (90.6%), 9/14 who competed semiprofessionally (64.3%) and 7/8 who played in the CFL (87.5%).
And just for good measure, I’m boycotting the NFL for the nearly 25% of its owners who contributed 1 million dollars or more to Trump’s inauguration, offering more context to the values of the NFL higher-ups and why Kaepernick is still unemployed today.
So what do I hope my boycott accomplishes, you might ask?
I hope to be 1 of many to collectively create a critical mass that’s substantial enough to translate into lost ratings/revenue because money is all the NFL cares about – not domestic violence victims, or veterans, or current and former players’ mental health and certainly not police brutality.
The NFL’s so big we’re not gonna beat it, but maybe we can make a statement that forces them to consider a more fair collective bargaining agreement for players, policies that don’t preferentially penalize players for off-field misconduct but addresses each incident the same regardless of position or profile, and real investments in CTE prevention research (the NFL has promised 100M but it’s yet to be seen), just to name a few outcomes.
Unfortunately, based on what I’ve seen after opening week just in my social media timeline alone, that critical mass of protesters won’t be achieved and that statement won’t be made this season. Nonetheless I’ll continue to #resist and hope that those who feel like the Kaepernick situation wasn’t enough to boycott the NFL will consider these reasons for joining as the season progresses.
#NFLBoycott #BoycottTheNFL #UBtheCURE