As many of you know from listening to the radio show or reading these columns I spend a lot of time listening to talk radio and the majority of that is ESPN radio. ESPN is having problems losing listeners and starting to lose money. I believe the biggest cause of their problems is the increasing amount of political talk on their shows. Don’t get me wrong, there have been times when sports has been a catalyst for societal or political change in our history and there are times when political issues cross over into sports. But for the vast majority of fans sports is entertainment and an escape from the problems of the real world. They don’t mind some of those political or societal issues creeping into their entertainments now and then but to have it become a large part of the discussion turns them off. That’s why they start looking for something else as a release.
Many of you are familiar with Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers who took a knee during the national anthem to protest what he felt that song stood for; police brutality and racism. Colin suffered quite a backlash in the public realm for what many people felt was disrespecting our nation, our military, our police, and so many other institutions that most of us look at with pride. I don’t think the majority of people in America had a problem with Kaepernick protesting or taking a knee as his form of protest, I think the real problem had to do with his inability to articulate what it was he was actually protesting.
Kaepernick is no longer with a team in the NFL. He opted out of the final year of his contract believing that he could find a better situation with another team. As training camp has already opened, Colin has not been picked up by another team. There have been situations arise that might have created opportunities for him but no team has signed him to a deal. Many pundits have opined that it’s not only because of his opinions but because of his race, he is of mixed race but identifies as an African-American. Now that a couple of quarterbacks have been injured creating opportunities early in training camp many are calling for those teams to sign Kaepernick and when they haven’t the accusations of being blackballed have begun to fly. There are legitimate reasons that some teams may not assign him because of his style of play as compared to what type of offense those teams run and while Kaepernick says he will not take in them anymore, there would still be some public outcry if a team signed him. Now there are other players who have committed much more serious offenses, such as murder, beating their wife, drug offenses, and so on and they have been given second chances, so you do wonder why he has yet to be signed. But you also wonder what he’s telling those teams and interviews that is turning them off. But that’s another topic for another column.
Will Cain is a relatively new air personality at ESPN. He has a Sunday morning show and regularly fills in for other hosts who are taking time off. I have listened to him for several months now and don’t generally agree with his opinions, especially when it comes to political issues. Like most ESPN air personalities he is on the left side of the aisle. However, when it comes to this issue I think he hit the nail on the head.
Cain opines that most people are still upset with Kaepernick because what he said he was protesting was too generalized. Like many liberals who criticize America or white Americans or police, they tend to generalize too much. Kaepernick for example wore socks in a NFL game that said “cops are pigs." He said in several interviews that America was a racist country or that police were targeting Blacks and committing genocide. We know those things are not true but to call all of America racist or all police racist is offensive to most Americans, including many minorities.
Cain believes that if Kaepernick had been more targeted in his criticism he would have garnered more support or at least experienced much less of a backlash than he did. None of us can argue that there are bad cops or that there are racists in America. And while we have blemishes in our past, we have worked harder than any other country to eliminate the problems that we’ve experienced in the past. We do get offended when liberals ignore all of our history. We get offended when they generalize and lump all of us into a category based solely upon some demographic characteristic. We also get offended when liberals ignore racism and bigotry against specific demographic groups. There are black people who are racist towards other demographic groups but that never gets talked about.
We as a country have done more than any other country in the history of the world to stamp out things like racism and bigotry and we, like anyone else, want credit for the positive things we have done. We will also acknowledge the blemishes in our past and work hard to continue to erase the problems with our country. When you speak in generalizations you ignore all of the progress that has been made and you ostracize or turn off a large segment of the population. I think this is a perfect example of why so many Americans are fed up with the establishment politicians and media because they tend to treat us all the same, putting us into categories based upon a demographic characteristic and assuming that we all act in a specific manner because of that demographic characteristic.