Who would have thought that Colin Kaepernick would actually do the nation a great service?
He’s been a change agent alright, but not in the way he hoped. His well-documented inadequacies on the field got him benched by the San Francisco 49ers, which led him to pursue a career as a free agent. But it was Kaepernick’s political theatrics that made him toxic to many fans and thus to potential employers. Still, those of us who love America owe him a debt of gratitude.
It took Colin Kaepernick to pop the sports bubble.
We’ve all watched the bubble inflate for years. Palatial new stadiums were built (often with tax dollars), multi-billion dollar television deals were signed, and multi-platinum player contracts shocked our sensibilities. Combined with sky-high ticket prices that put a night at the game out of reach for many families, these were all signs that things had gone too far.
But how and when a bubble will deflate is anyone’s guess. Usually—maybe always—it’s done in by the excesses of its biggest beneficiaries. Exhibit A is the housing crisis of last decade.
As the Book of Proverbs tells us, pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.
Now NBA sensation Stephen Curry has stepped into the fray. Curry, who was once the star of the two-time NBA Champion Golden State Warriors but was overshadowed this season by Kevin Durant, said he didn’t want the team to meet with President Trump at the White House to celebrate their championship. Citing both Kaepernick and Michael Bennett in his reasoning Curry said, “I don’t want to go . . . By acting and not going, hopefully that will inspire some change when it comes to what we tolerate in this country and what is accepted and what we turn a blind eye to.”
President Trump said what many of us have been thinking for years:
If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL,or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
…our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
The NBA and UnderArmour—the athletic clothing manufacturer that made Curry the highly paid face of the brand in a 2015 deal that will earn the player well over $100 million—should worry that Curry will do for basketball what Colin Kaepernick and his comrades have done for football.
As a result of similarly ill-conceived public protests, the bloom seems to be coming off the NFL’s rose as football ratings continue the downward slide that began last season. According to CNN, “NBC’s ‘Sunday Night Football’ in the first two weeks of the regular season is down 7% in viewership compared to last year; ESPN’s ‘Monday Night Football,’ is down 5%; and the averages of Sunday afternoon games on Fox and CBS are down 11% and 19% respectively, according to Nielsen data.”
To underscore the point, when 49ers hosted the Los Angeles Rams Thursday night, half the seats were empty.
— Colin Resch (@colinresch) September 22, 2017
Several new studies prove what we already suspected: Fans are leaving the NFL because of the players’ political activism that disrespects our country, its heritage, and its people. Sports executives such as CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus get it, too, but they’re caught in a crossfire that is only partly of their own making.
If they take a public stand against the anthem protesters, the backlash from the Left would be swift and vicious. If they do nothing and allow the protests to run roughshod over the sensibilities of their customers the verdict of fans will be slower but more costly. Wall Street analysts are worried, forecasting losses of $200 million from just a 10 percent shortfall in expectations this year.
Pro-sports cheerleaders in the sports media complex (not the scantily clad, heteronormative hotties shaking their moneymakers on the sidelines) assure us that there is nothing to worry about. A few weeks ago it was the weather. Then it was because CBS hadn’t scheduled a late afternoon game yet this season though this is traditionally the highest rated game on Sunday afternoons. Now they say that the marquee matchups haven’t happened yet and ratings will rebound for big games later in this season.
It’s the same rhetoric at the end of every bubble—the bad news is just a chance, one-time event but “the fundamentals” mean the good times will keep on rolling. Tomorrow.
But coddled superstars have been playing with other people’s money for so long they don’t realize they have customers who make their fantasies come true. As much of the country turned its back on Hollywood’s self-referential Leftism many turned to sports as a safe haven. Sports present a reassuring combination of fairness and competition. The rules are known, referees enact mostly fair on the spot justice, and the best players and teams usually win in the long run.
What’s more there is a time-honored tradition of sportsmanship that lauds discipline, teamwork, fair play, and both winning and losing with good humor and dignity. Sports have traditionally been a refuge from cultural and political controversy where Americans could come together and enjoy time with family, friends, and even complete strangers. Entering the stadium, they could check the cares of the world at the turnstile. That’s changed recently.
Intoxicated with their own sense of self-righteousness today’s athlete-protesters look more like rich drunks spouting nonsense than responsible citizens seeking redress. And in doing so they have popped the sports bubble and reminded us that we should stop idolizing overprivileged millionaire Millennials who disrespect this country, her people, and her history. Millions of Americans have recoiled at the divisiveness brought into sports by people like Kaepernick and Curry. And for this we can thank them.
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