Monday, December 1, 2014

Stick to football

   Five members of the NFL's St. Louis Rams picked the wrong time and place to take sides in the Michael Brown shooting.  They also picked the wrong side.
   When the five players came out of the tunnel before yesterday's game at the Edward Jones Dome in downtown St. Louis and struck the "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" pose popularized by protestors in Ferguson, Missouri, they weren't just speaking for themselves.  Whether or not they were aware of it, they were representing the St. Louis Rams and the National Football League.  Neither the team nor the league were notified in advance about what the players had in mind, and common sense dictates that both organizations would have strongly discouraged the gesture, if not forbidden it outright.  Inciting fans to riot isn't part of the pro football public relations playbook. 
   Of course, there was no riot.  In fact, there was virtually no in-stadium reaction to the gesture, because the vast majority of right-thinking people have accepted a grand jury decision that favored painstaking examination of the evidence showing police officer Darren Wilson feared for his life when he shot and fatally wounded unarmed robbery and assault suspect Michael Brown.  
   Post-game interviews with the players suggested they were acting in good faith but are relatively clueless about the Brown case.  They didn't even think they were taking sides by making a gesture that the St. Louis Police Officers Association vigorously condemned as "tasteless, offensive and inflammatory".   As social activists, the Rams Five make great football players.  They should focus on football, and leave the policing to the police and the social activism to the rioters and looters.

3 comments:

  1. Ted,

    I respect your opinion and I like your blog, but I have to disagree with you on this one. But "leave the social activism to the rioters and the looters"? What kind of line is that? How about not equating social activism with criminal behaviour?

    The bottom line is you would have them stick to football and deny them the same right to express themselves that you take advantage of. You are an excellent writer, but in this case I feel that you have backed the wrong horse.

    The players have every right to express themselves. I think they made a compelling statement.

    Best,

    Mr. Anonymous

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  2. The players right to "free speech" is restricted by personal conduct clauses in their contracts. Fortunately for them, the Rams appear to have chosen not to exercise that clause in this case. That's too bad, because their gesture perpetuates a dangerous narrative that has been debunked by due process.

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  3. I have no idea if these guys got fined but it woudld seem an automatic to me. At the very least a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct worth 15 yards back into the dressing room and showers. Then to the parking lot where they could go home and watch the game on TV before being made to watch all four seasons of Downton Abbey as punishment.

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