It’s the perfect protest, really.
Silent, peaceful, powerful, and set against the backdrop of something Americans care about. This isn’t just a march through the streets on a lazy weekend afternoon. It’s an act of rebellion against the flag and the anthem, two symbols of this nation that still mean something to all of us.
The forum is ideal. A football field, the epicenter of Americana, the one sport that seems to rally citizens to come together, sit on their couches, drink beer, wear replica jerseys, and watch. Were it a basketball court, the outrage would be minimal – just ask former NBA guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, who staged his own sit-down protest in the mid-1990s, and has all but been forgotten since. Even in Major League Baseball, where Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Carlos Delgado took a seat in the early-2000s, such an act was similarly overlooked. But football? Don’t mess with football.
If this wasn’t a big deal, columnists across the country wouldn’t be churning out opinions firmly entrenched on either side of this issue. Talking heads wouldn’t be devoting segment after segment to discussion of the topic. And those people you only kind of know on social media? They wouldn’t be lashing out at one another over differing viewpoints on the matter.
In today’s society, how else are you supposed to get everyone’s attention? We’ve created an atmosphere that rewards the loudest and most selfish of our species. We’ve designed online platforms that highlight how important we are and how much more cool stuff we can do than our so-called friends. Our cameras have been redesigned to take pictures of our own selves instead of the world through our eyes, and as a result the most ubiquitous type of photo we now produce literally oozes with egocentrism: the selfie.
Face it, in order to seize the public consciousness, we have to be a precise combination of brash, unique, and outlandish. And somehow, in sitting quietly while a song plays and colors are unfurled, a group of football players have managed to achieve the right mix.