February 6, 2023 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

NFL Players: American Workers, Citizens

By Steve Stajich

 

 

 

 

 

 

It seems that if we are to cut through the fog of the current dust-up about NFL players expressing themselves during the playing of the national anthem at games, we will first need to take a definitive look at what NFL players are. Are they entertainment performers? Are they workers albeit in a form of work that largely defines itself as nationally shared entertainment? Are they heroes in any sense of the word?

Or… are they chattel, property owned by dint of contracts with those who own and control the teams; those doing the paying out on the contracts who are unabashedly called “owners.”

In our quest for that more definitive answer we can look to the past at those player athletes who seem to have never been confused about whether they were citizens entitled to having an opinion just as much as any steel worker or auto worker. One of the most impressive of these was boxer Cassius Clay, who became a Muslim and took the name Muhammed Ali. Ali refused to fight in Vietnam, saying that his faith caused him to take no part in wars. Ali didn’t kneel; instead he took a stand and was stripped of his heavyweight title. Boxing, a sport in which two men literally attempt to beat each other unconscious, decided that Ali did not have the right to express his faith and still hang on to his status in their sports organization.

In previous instances that questioned whether NFL players get to speak or express an opinion as citizens there has always been an ugly blowback strongly suggesting that fans – the people that buy the tickets and souvenirs generating billions of dollars – are owed some sort of “just shut up and play football” loyalty. Now that we have the wonderful Internet, we can all share these opinions about players instantly. It can get ugly online when music or film entertainers, especially women, chose to state their opinions and then feel the heat of a similar “just shut up and play your role” reaction.

Part of what might be happening right now, especially when you fold in what is becoming known about head injuries to NFL players, is that football itself may be on the threshold of becoming an anachronism. One could argue that society as a whole is growing out of its need for violent live entertainment where people are injured for life in the cause of something to watch on TV on Sunday afternoon. Boxing was one of the earliest sports to transfer to the emerging medium of television, underwritten by advertising from shaving creams and cigars. Boxing fit the new medium of TV perfectly, since a viewer of any age could fully understand what was happening and the action was mostly covered by one camera focused on the ring. Ali later paid a dear price for our appetite for that entertainment.

Not helping any of this, as is his way, the current President recently posited that football would benefit by getting more head-on and violent… although his sports credentials as an overweight golfer puts very little momentum behind that notion.

Still, football is a long way off from becoming antiquated. A parallel might be strip clubs or “gentleman’s clubs” where everyone knows that the activity inside is socially retrograde. And yet… the brass poles stay busy. How interesting if there was a gesture by the “dancers” before starting their show that was the equivalent of NFL players protest kneeling. Imagine that a “showgirl” was able – by merely making a physical gesture before performing – to say, in effect, “I don’t approve of writhing naked for men who might have voted for the current President and I also want action on police shootings, but I will nevertheless do this ridiculous wiggling for suckers overpaying for drinks.”

As of Monday of this week, it seemed that the current President didn’t actually understand the kneeling issue from the player’s point of view. He lashed out at those kneeling by attacking their mothers, calling the any player who protested “a son of bitch.” Oh, and they should be fired. He later said hooking arms was okay, but kneeling was wrong. In both cases, he appeared oblivious to the fact that the players were talking to him. Then athletes did start talking to him, with basketball player LeBron James directly referencing the current President.

Can a superstar like LeBron speak his mind, but the rank and file NFL players are exposed to fan ridicule and attacks of being unpatriotic? Sometimes those who live in the castle get to do more talking. I used to joke that frustrated actors and comics not getting what they wanted from show business and then railing against that industry’s inherent unfairness were the equivalent of an unemployed lumberjack standing on a table and hurling insults at lumber and wood. The NFL players don’t hate football and they certainly don’t hate America. They only want to be able to speak, even silently, to systemic racism. Thanks to our current President, their actions now seem to be about their rights as citizens. Regardless of any precise definition of what NFL players are in the context of our society, they are most assuredly citizens of the United States.

Related Posts

Property Transfer Tax Measure ULA Heads to Court as Landlords and Taxpayers Association File Lawsuit Against LA City

February 3, 2023

February 3, 2023

Measure is intended to fund affordable housing and tenant assistance programs through a property transfer tax By Dolores Quintana Measure...

A Luxurious Mar Vista Home Has Hit the Market for $3,395,000

February 3, 2023

February 3, 2023

Ashwood Avenue home offers 3080 square feet of living space  A stunning four-bedroom, five-bathroom home has hit the market in...

Ratkovich Company and JPMorgan Secure $41 Million Loan for Culver City Office Development

February 3, 2023

February 3, 2023

Project is located near the intersection of Jefferson and Obama Boulevards. By Dolores Quintana JP Morgan and the Ratkovich Company...

Culver City Approves Construction of 165,000-Square-Foot Office Building on Watseka Avenue

February 3, 2023

February 3, 2023

Four-story development set to be complete in 2025 or 2026 The City of Culver has given the green light to...

Chef Jason Neroni Introduces Best Bet Pizza to Washington Boulevard

February 2, 2023

February 2, 2023

Best Bet to open in former A-Frame space on Washington Boulevard By Dolores Quintana It’s official, chef Jason Neroni will...

Free Bahn Mi Sandwiches for Mar Vista Restaurant’s 4 Year Anniversary

February 1, 2023

February 1, 2023

My Lai party to feature free Banh Mi Sandwiches, gift card prizes, and other goodies!   By Dolores Quintana On February...

California’s Ambitious Fast-Food Law Heads to Statewide Referendum for Final Verdict

February 1, 2023

February 1, 2023

AB 257 would create a board of 11 appointees to negotiate on behalf of fast food workers in California Last...

Mayor Bass Launch New Initiative to House Homeless at Culver Boulevard Encampment

February 1, 2023

February 1, 2023

Two Inside Safe initiatives launched in South LA and Westside By Sam Catanzaro City officials have announced a new effort...

Girl Scouts Return to Los Angeles With Delicious New Cookie!

January 31, 2023

January 31, 2023

Cookie lovers throughout Greater Los Angeles can now support local Girl Scout entrepreneurs by ordering from the iconic lineup Girl...

Boris Allakhverdyan, Ben Hong and Talon Smith Unite in Santa Monica for Special Performance of Brahms’ Trio Op. 114

January 31, 2023

January 31, 2023

Concert will take place on Sunday, February 5 The world-renowned Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Principal Clarinet Boris Allakhverdyan and Associate Principal...

70 Culver High AVPA Students Descend on CETA for High School Theater Arts Festival

January 31, 2023

January 31, 2023

CCHS Senior Ginger Anderson-Willis took home first place in the “Trailer” category 70 Culver City High School students from the...

Metro’s Choice for Purple Line Muralist Sparks Veteran Concern

January 31, 2023

January 31, 2023

Veterans concerned over disturbing painting by commissioned metro muralist at the purple line stop on the West L.A VA Soldiers...

Mayor Karen Bass Makes Moves in her New Administration to Combat Homelessness

January 31, 2023

January 31, 2023

Mayor appoints three Deputy Mayors and three Directors last week Mayor Karen Bass has wasted no time in the transition...

CCUSD Board Shines Spotlight on Elementary Schools, Reacts to Monterey Park Shooting

January 31, 2023

January 31, 2023

Board of Education celebrated the collective efforts of their elementary schools by recognizing the Five Pillars of Supporting Student Need...

TikTok Sparks Surge in Kia and Hyundai Thefts in Los Angeles

January 31, 2023

January 31, 2023

Social media platforms exacerbate vehicle thefts through security flaws Kia and Hyundai vehicles have become a major target for car...