Nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills. The Bills certainly have circled a lot during their 17-year playoff drought. As candid as my opinions are about the way we play, this article is not about the fortunes and in most cases the misfortunes of the team.
Week 3 of the NFL was a defining moment in the history of the sport where every team in the league took a unified stance against the President’s words during a Friday night rally in Alabama; "When somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He's fired. He's fired! "
The matter surfaced onto the national spotlight during last year’s football season were QB Colin Kaepernick refused to stand during the National Anthem. Many others followed suit, as they felt just as Kaepernick does; that they were not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. Kaepernick lit a spark and Donald Trump fueled it into a great big bonfire.
Great! Finally, we can discuss solutions to a serious matter that threatens the fabric of our society. Seek out different ways to help alleviate the plight of those who suffer from racial discrimination.
Unsurprisingly, this is not what we are talking about.
The protests have quickly turned into a heated debate as whether such demonstrations should be done on this type of public stage. One argues that it disgraceful to do such an Un-American thing during the time we show our national pride to the nation. Others maintain that this is the best time and place to demonstrate this non-violent form of protest; as after all the symbolism of the flag is meant to represent everyone's right regardless of race, gender, and religion to be treated equally.
Nobody circles the the wagons like the Buffalo Bills. Jim Kelly, the lone bright star in this franchise too the former attitude when he blasted running back Lesean McCoy for not showing the proper respect during the anthem, In an attempt to explain himself he later tweeted;
"I would hope that while we all, myself included, may not agree with using the national anthem as the appropriate forum for such display, we should continue to strive to work through these issues with great respect for each other," he added, before closing with "God Bless."
It is remarkable that we are wasting such a rare opportunity to discuss meaningful measures to combat racial inequality. Why are spending all this time in heated debate whether or not it is appropriate to do so during an NFL game? Really?
I think what we are witnessing is a sort that violates sacred ground. Sports is a much-needed diversion and respite when we need to unwind from the hustle bustle of our everyday lives. In other words, there is no room for politics in football or any other sport for that matter. Whether we play the game or not sports bring us together, even when you root for the Giants. Unless you are a diehard Bills fan we all are excited to see our team duke it out during the season, watch sports rivalries grow, and analyze the game in every we can. Throw in some beer, chicken wings, and some popcorn and we are all having a grand ol’ time. The party is over If politics decides to walk on the field.
The narrative of this conversation reassesses the way we associate ourselves with the game. Perhaps we shouldn’t brand football as an untouchable holy shrine. An outlet that is totally divorced from the real world can be counterproductive and in some cases harmful. That argument can certainly be said about people who allow sports to affect their everyday lives. Or perhaps access to a dissociative reprieve is exactly what society needs to be more productive in the real world.
Honestly this dispute is pointless because the way we connect to the game is personally subjective. It is also so inconsequential compared to the issue at stake. We are placing more of an importance on how we associate with sports than how we associate and treat our fellow man. I am beginning to question why many of us opt to do so in the 1st place.
One brave QB lit a spark, which unfortunately has been fanned in the wrong direction. We all have the power to help steer the conversation down the right path, but we need to ask ourselves first- Do we want to?
Editor of BJR
Open Dialogue does not seek to be right, rather to understand. There is never a right or wrong answer. Please feel free to leave comments & share your opinions and views.
The opinions expressed herein are my own and do not represent the views of the Buffalo Jewish Review.