Some of you may not know this, but I wasn’t always a sports fan. I grew up a nerd, pretty much-comic books, video games, even dabbled in D&D every so often. Like every good Ohioan, I watched the Buckeyes on Saturday, but that was about it-and I didn’t really understand what I was watching. It wasn’t until we moved to Minnesota, and my parents tossed me onto a football field that I ever really learned anything about football-or sports in general.
And I loved it. I immediately adopted the Vikings, Timberwolves, Twins, and North Stars-setting me up for a lifetime of disappointment-but I loved the Vikings. I loved going to the Metrodome, I loved rooting for (former Buckeye) Robert Smith, faithfully defended Randy Moss’ antics, and boasted about how I lived next door to John Randle. I was all in.
And as I got older, I became part of the problem. I hand waved away domestic abuse issues and problematic treatment of women, and cheered for the barbaric “JACKED UP!” segments on ESPN. I dumped thousands of dollars I didn’t necessarily have into NFL Sunday Ticket subscriptions. Spent way more time than was probably healthy raging against Seahawks fans for not being “true” fans.
And then Trayvon Martin happened. And Mike Brown. Walter Scott. Freddy Gray. Samuel Debose. And Colin Kaepernick sat down. And everything changed.
Whatever you may think of Colin Kaepernick’s protest for black lives, it is undeniable that the NFL, it’s teams and it’s fans see it as a nuisance. They are more upset at his kneeling than they are at why he kneeled. They say, “protest the right way” when there is violence, but as soon as a man quietly protests on the sideline, they say, “nope, not that way, either.” It is that apathy from the fanbase that has led to Kaepernick being blackballed from his league. It is telling that a man convicted of racketeering and dog fighting and a man who obstructed justice in two murders get to be the ones to explain why Colin Kaepernick is not on a roster in this league.
The NFL does not care about black lives-of their players or their fans. They don’t care at women either, unless they’re selling them pink t-shirts. The whole enterprise is toxic, and I can’t support it anymore.
I also realize that the NFL is America’s pastime now, and I’ve already learned it’s impossible to love sports and avoid the NFL. So I know I’ll still see highlights on ESPN, and grumble about Seahawks fans. And I won’t ask you to give up your fantasy leagues, and I won’t crap on your NFL Facebook posts, nor will I lambast you for not following me down this path. I’ll just go about my life doing other things on Sundays. Like reading up on the upcoming NBA season. Or bitching on Facebook about Ohio State and ESPN’s SEC bias. Some things ain’t gonna change.
But I will stop investing time and money into an league that could not care less if I lived or died at the hands of a police officer. A league that is more upset about Michael Bennett’s Twitter post than they are about the actions in that Twitter post. A league that will shake down the military for hundreds of millions of dollars to wrap itself in the flag, then cast out a player that chooses to not partake in for-profit patriotism. I’m done.
Kap kneeled for me. So I'll stand by him.