Aubry Okayama

I do not like sports. It’s just not my thing and I have admittedly unpopular opinions about people that get overly invested in sporting events. That being said, it’s been hilarious to watch NFL fans implode over BLM protesting.

Every die hard football fan swears up and down they’re fans for life; that they’ve always been a fan of their team and that they always will be. It’s a ridiculous badge of honor, but Lord have mercy do they put effort into asserting their loyalty. Football fans are as eager to tell people how much they love their teams as my cousin Braxtylyn is to tell you that she’s a vegan. Yet here we are, in the face of not even the slightest bit of adversity for those that are up in arms, and football fans across the nation are threatening to boycott not just their beloved teams, but the entire NFL as a whole in counter-protest of a peaceful protest drawing attention to the civil injustices faced by members of the very teams they swore they were down to ride or die for. 

I’m not an expert, but I’m pretty sure in professional sports they call that a ‘fair weather fan’. Does anyone know if these are the same people that drop lines like, “I’m all for peaceful protesting but...” or am I just out here twisting the narrative like some kind of terrorist-loving libtard? 2020 has been a confusing year and I just want to make sure I’m getting my fake news right.

Everything about this counter-protest is confusing to me. In my head — and again, I’m no expert — people protest when they have determined that their message is not being heard and they need to draw immediate attention to a subject they feel is important. This particular counter-protest is mind-boggling because what these fair weather fans are actually counter-protesting is not the message of the players’ protest, but rather, a subject not ever referenced by the original protest. It’s almost as though they’ve missed the point entirely and have no idea what’s going on but want to be included because they also have feelings so obviously those feelings must be validated, too. Maybe they think the gaslighting will make people forget that Black Lives Matter?

I’ll give these counter-protesters this — no, the kneeling players are not following proper National Anthem etiquette. However, I am not able to take that argument as some kind of reasonable dismissal of what the players are protesting or even something to be bothered by at all, when the NFL as an organization does not follow proper flag etiquette. The U.S. military pays the league to display the flag on the field to drum up recruiting, but happily disregards that such a display is in clear violation of flag etiquette. Why did these fierce flag-lovers never correct them over this violation?

Have we simply become a nation of citizens so narcissistic that we refuse to hear the voices of those we have failed? As if it’s not painful enough that we have turned a blind eye to the injustices suffered by our fellow Americans, some are now choosing to protest cries for help, acts of solidarity, and demands for the equal rights we are all promised in the Constitution that holds us to a higher standard of morality than what we’ve been accepting.

People are out there acting like athletes don’t have real human experiences that are as valid as their own and it’s not really a shocking revelation. Dehumanizing athletes isn’t a new concept. Fans have been doing it this whole time, like when a star player from the opposing team gets injured and the home team cheers. 

No one in their right mind would do that in a face-to-face setting because that’s awful and we were all raised better than that. Something about viewing professional sports removes the humanity from the athlete and makes them merely a commodity to be traded. Fans may be so obsessed with an athlete that they fondly name their dog or even their child after them, but they don’t generally have genuine concern for them when it comes to their actual struggles as individuals. It’s not really a surprise to me that an angry fan would participate in behavior that is aimed at financially punishing a player, team, or league for not performing like some sort of circus monkey for said fan’s entertainment. Here’s the thing though, when you buy a ticket to a game or purchase merch to support a team, you get exactly what you pay for, an entertaining sporting event. You’re not paying to force your nationalist political views on team members. This kind of weird, “well, there goes your tip! I’m not going to spend my hard earned money at a place that doesn’t cater to my personal idea of what America stands for,” mentality is the most Karen of behaviors and really should be reserved for a complaint to the manager.

But the irony doesn’t end there. This particular boycott method decreases the number of nationalist viewers, lowering the numbers of viewers in the target demographic for those recruitment advertisements the DOD pays millions for every season, and inadvertently wasting federal tax payer dollars. The NFL, as a whole however, will remain unphased. 

Between subsidies to the tune of billions of dollars to date and a number of unreasonably generous tax breaks — not to mention a pretty sweet antitrust exemption bestowed by Congress — the NFL could sustain a pretty significant loss of revenue before needing to worry. Let’s say this boycott movement did pick up significant traction though. Small local businesses would be the first to suffer meaningful losses without fans traveling in for games, post-game celebrations, and of course retail merch sales. This, in turn, would affect local economies — you know, the same economies these mouth-breathers were protesting needed to be saved from tyrannical face masks just months ago. It would appear that local businesses are more important than public health, but less important than letting others voice their opinions.

This has to be the worst thought out protest of all time, right? Maybe all of this tantrum-throwing is the natural result of all those participation trophies these kids were handed in pee wee soccer.

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