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Outsiders vs. Insiders: Asinine flag protests & boycotts translate to GOP wins on Election Day

Most Americans realize the conclusion of the Labor Day holiday means it’s time to turn attention to what many consider the best sports season of the year. With the arrival of fall baseball fans know teams are in the stretch drive and the World Series is just around the corner. Pro golf enthusiasts gear up for the “official” end of the PGA Tour season (the FedEx Cup playoffs) and then anxiously anticipate the always thrilling Ryder Cup competition.

College football lovers long ago readied their tailgate accoutrements to deploy during pregame fiestas at their In n Out boycottcherished local campus, and NFL followers can’t wait to witness the patriotic displays during opening day ceremonies with their favorite teams.

Or at least it used to be that way. The past couple football seasons have been marred by player protests during the national anthem – and the league has been irreparably scarred because of them. During the offseason the league sought to head off prolongations of the controversy by devising news rules for players and teams (players now are specifically required to stand during the playing of the national anthem, but if they don’t wish to do so they may remain in the locker room until the observance concludes).

But as the month-long preseason revealed, the underlying issue is far from resolved. The season’s first game is set to kickoff on Thursday night and there are ominous storm clouds on the horizon. As reported at ESPN.com last week, “The NFL and NFLPA have been encouraged by their ongoing discussions on the league's national anthem policy, and while there is optimism a resolution can be reached, one is not expected by the start of the regular season, sources told ESPN's Dan Graziano...

“Sources familiar with that meeting told Graziano that as the talks continue, each side is curious to see how the other handles issues that arise moving forward, such as whether players will continue protesting during the anthem, what owners and/or the league will do, and if President Donald Trump continues to mention it...

“The NFLPA filed a non-injury grievance in July challenging the legitimacy of [the new must-stand] policy, and shortly after, both sides decided to hit pause on the new policy and discuss a resolution.”

Prior to reading this I wasn’t aware the policy had been suspended pending further talks. I’ve said all along league management and team owners (with a few notable exceptions such as Dallas’s Jerry Jones) don’t have much backbone. Contrary to the liberal pundits’ hysteric assertions (generated by a handful of attention-seeking players who decided to turn America’s most beloved pastime into a sorry politicized joke), there isn’t a First Amendment “right” involved here and the protest snake should have been killed quickly when it first reared its ugly head.

The subject has already received a thorough once-over in this space and other conservative news sources so we don’t need to rehash here. The First Amendment restrains government from restricting speech – but a private entity like the NFL is free to do whatever it likes.

Theoretically speaking league poohbahs could impose a rule obliging players to lock arms and stand on their heads during the national anthem if they so chose. Such a policy could run afoul of federal occupational safety regulations, but the point is football management isn’t in danger of being sued over possible First Amendment violations by telling players to behave before games.

Every preseason there are thousands of aspirants hoping to earn the privilege of making an NFL team. The league is a very exclusive club where only the best of the best earn roster spots. There’s no racial discrimination involved either; when over two-thirds of the players are of African lineage you can’t exactly say people of color are being excluded.

Meanwhile the gaggle of disgruntled flag protesters have multiple outlets to express their views and many, many have taken advantage of the opportunity over the years. Current and former players aren’t all leftists either. NFL hall of famer Jim Brown recently said players should stand for the anthem. And Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (who happens to be black) reiterated last month the football field is no place to protest the American flag.

Scooby Axson reported at Sports Illustrated, “Dak Prescott stood by his comments about the national anthem … ‘I made my statements. I stand by what I said,’ Prescott said on Sunday. ‘Some people might have misunderstood or whatever, but I know what I said, and I feel strongly about what I said. It is what it is. When I made my statements on the anthem, I knew there would be backlash. No surprises.’

“Prescott was asked last month at the beginning of training camp about the comments made by owner Jerry Jones, when he said that every member of the Cowboys will stand for the anthem and ‘toe the line.’

“’I never protest during the anthem, and I don't think that's the time or the venue to do so,’ Prescott has said. ‘The game of football has always brought me such at peace, and I think it does the same for a lot of people, a lot of people playing the game, a lot of people watching the game, a lot of people that have any impact of the game.’”

Precisely. Speaking from my own experience the joy derived from professional football stems from witnessing superbly conditioned athletes executing plays in what is in reality a thinking man’s game. The age-old stereotype of football players being dull-brained dunces is far from the truth. Each play presents multiple variables that force participants to make split-second evaluations and decisions honed through hundreds of hours of preparation and practice – and each team member must handle the intense physical demands on top of all the mental challenges.

Are the vast majority of football players candidates for a Rhodes scholarship? No; but hardly any Rhodes scholars could play in the NFL either.

Prescott is right – football is an escape for fans (54 percent say it’s inappropriate to kneel). Ordinary people pay for tickets to see the games and it’s safe to say they’re not there to honor some social justice warrior’s offensive personal vendetta, especially when it can’t even be defined. Again, what does “raising awareness” of police brutality and racism really mean?

It also isn’t shocking the media depicts Jerry Jones as some kind of modern-day slaveholder compelling his minority ball-playing hostages to bend to his will or face the proverbial lash. Jones himself recently said the matter is settled and doesn’t want to talk about it any longer. Who can blame him? Only the handful of protesters insist on making a stink over the matter. Jones just wants his employees/players to perform their jobs as stipulated in their contracts.

Meanwhile the controversy’s original sparkplug, Colin Kaepernick, is suing the NFL over his inability to find new employment with a team. ESPN News services reported, “An arbitrator [Stephen B. Burbank] is sending Colin Kaepernick's grievance with the NFL to trial, denying the league's request to throw out the quarterback's claims that owners conspired to keep him out of the league because of his protests of social injustice...

“Kaepernick, who led the San Francisco 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance and NFC Championship Game in consecutive seasons, argues that owners have colluded to keep him off any NFL roster since he hit free agency in 2017.

“Burbank's decision means there was sufficient evidence of collusion to keep Kaepernick's drive going. Now some owners, coaches and team executives will be called to testify during the season, a situation the league hoped to avoid.”

Of course they’d hoped to avoid it. Another season’s worth of protests will irreversibly alienate yet another slice of fans – and league profits will eventually suffer. TV advertising rates are already locked-in but if this goes on long enough the networks will gripe about declining ratings. People have lots of things to do on Sunday afternoons… who needs the aggravation?

Assume for a moment there was actual provable collusion by NFL owners to keep Kaepernick out of the league. Couldn’t owners argue they worked together to insulate their hard-earned brand (“protect the shield”) against an ongoing public relations disaster impacting all teams, not just the one Kaepernick plays for? Can you envision the media circus that would follow the league’s most notoriously hated quarterback from week to week? What owner wants to deal with it? What owner wants to put the rest of the teams through it either?

The truth is, the longer this sideshow persists the worse it is for everyone associated with professional football. A comparative few leftist-driven losers will have brought down the biggest success story in major sports. The NFL isn’t just a football league, it’s an American institution.

Further protests only provide President Trump with more chances to make examples of the unpatriotic few. This matter is taking centerstage in the ongoing culture war being waged over the soul of America – and it comes during the height of the 2018 campaign season too. Whereas the protesters hope to perhaps extort money out of the league to sprinkle among their various nefarious “social justice” causes, the average voter just wants to honor the flag and watch football.

Lots of people are caught in the middle. Minority voters are told Trump and the Republican Party are against them. Star Parker (who also happens to be black) writes (at the Boston Herald)  it isn’t true, “[The Democrat] propaganda machine continues to push out the lie that Republicans are hostile to minorities.

“But blacks see and feel the truth. Record low black and Hispanic unemployment rates show the robust economy is reaching all Americans. The NAACP’s own polling shows black approval for President Trump at 21 percent, more than three times higher than the percentage of blacks that voted for him in 2016. A Rasmussen poll shows black approval for Trump at an incredible 36 percent.

“Which brings me to a remarkable young man, John James, who, with the endorsement of President Trump, won the Republican primary for the Senate in Michigan. James is a 37-year-old black conservative. A graduate of West Point, he served in Iraq, where he piloted Apache helicopters, and he now runs his family business in Michigan…”

Parker is correct, James is indeed impressive. The segment of African-American voters who hold favorable impressions of Trump would likely consider James a solid alternative to a Democrat party that’s moving steadily left and leaving them behind. It’s safe to assume Trump already has the “deplorables” vote nailed down for James in Michigan. If the Republican is able to pick up a few percentage points of the black vote in the Wolverine State he could easily jump into contention.

If recent surveys are any indication Trump is making inroads into voting blocs that constitute the foundation of the Democrat party. Though his approval numbers remain relatively steady (in the low to mid-forties) and the generic ballot continues to favor Democrats (by about eight points), these poll samples might not reflect the slight shift in the electorate.

Democrats need all of their voters in order to succeed on Election Day. So do Republicans. Trump’s numbers may not move much but attitudes are definitely showing signs of a change.

Democrats aren’t helping their own cause either. Take the case out in California where party members are demanding people boycott the immensely popular In-N-Out burger chain because its leaders contributed to the California Republican Party. Are they serious? Protest a double-double and “animal style” fries? Isn’t this getting a little extreme?

Liz Sheld wrote at PJ Media, “According to Fortune magazine, In-N-Out donates to both sides of the aisle: ‘the chain has given tens of thousands of dollars to 'Californians for Jobs and a Strong Economy,' a political action committee that aims to elect moderate Democrats.’

“I wish more people would resist calls for boycotts or demands for public denouncing of ‘undesirable’ people or businesses. This weapon of politicizing everything, ginning up the virtual pitchforks, is really bad for society; people are afraid of having the mob turned on them. It's straight up bullying.”

Like me, Sheld lives in the east where we can’t just stop by an In-n-Out and buy a dozen burgers to show our endorsement. Ticking off conservatives with stupid boycotts isn’t a good idea – if you doubt it look at Chick-fil-A. Liberals called for shunning the chicken franchise because its founder expressed support for traditional marriage in 2012. Conservatives responded by making it the most profitable fast food chain in the nation. Good food, too.

As we head into the post-Labor Day campaign season it’s clear the left is not offering a ceasefire in the culture war to further the prospects of Democrat candidates. Conservatives must see the ongoing NFL flag protests and In-n-Out burger boycott as an invitation to beat them in two months.

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As you said, there is no first amendment right or any right being savaged. Well except the ones outlawing domestic abuse, theft, at times murder or other mayhem by the football players. If you ask them what they are protesting a great many couldn't tell you. I look at it this way: they are grossly overpaid, overindulged prima donnas. I've been boycotting the NFL and ESPN for over two years. Most of the players don't really have a problem with the police, they lack the strength to grow and instead remain in their grandfathers' shoes, being a victim. If they truly wanted to do something, don't you think they are strong enough to go to Chicago and at least begin repairing the infrastructure?