I’m about to veer pretty far off the usual topics. But here we go:
I’ve been thinking about this for the last few days. It’s time for football fans to take a long hard look in the mirror and decide if they want to support the NFL and these players any more. I know this is going to sound like heresy in the face of “America’s game,” but I ask you to hear me out: Any time you tune in, show up to a game, or spend your money on anything related to the NFL, you are supporting a culture that says it’s okay to stuff leaves in a four-year-old’s mouth and whip him until you break the skin. You tune into games and award your attention to men who knock out their “then-fiancee” in an elevator and proceed to drag her out by her feet (oh wait, I guess that’s not okay because there’s a video). You support men who are convicted of beating their pregnant girlfriends. It is time to walk away from this game. Please don’t be complicit in condoning violence.
I know people are going to point out all the good people in the league and I know a vast majority of these players are upstanding citizens. But money talks. It is time to stop with your money, and to inhibit sponsor money by turning your time and attention elsewhere. Stop compartmentalizing the “game” (which makes a lot of people rich) from the players. “It’s just a game,” I know, but it makes players and an organization who have turned a blind eye to these and other off the field crimes and shitty behaviors rich. When you watch, you are part of that. If that’s not enough to get you to reconsider, please think about this: When you watch, you are cheering for and paying for a game that quite literally is turning many players’ brains into mush.
This is all very easy for me to say and ask — I don’t care about football. I almost never watch (Hell, last year we did tune into the Super Bowl and Boopsie kept calling it “basketball.”). In fact, I really hope my kids get into sports like cross country, ultimate frisbee and cycling (hippie alert!). It’s simple for me to look at this situation and say “DONE.” But I’m not part of the solution either. I don’t buy jerseys or game tickets, I don’t beer advertised during the games or buy football shaped pretzels. So fans, I implore you: Is this how you want to spend your hard earned money and limited time? Money talks and it’s time to walk.
Refuse to be part of the rewards.
The “changing climate” in the NFL people keep referring to? That is just the money talking. It’s fans saying, “Hell no. I won’t cheer for someone who put leaves in their child’s mouth and beat them no matter how fun he is to watch play. I won’t stand for players not living up to a (likely contractual) standard about their off-the-field behavior. I won’t accept a level of machismo that supports knocking a loved one around.” It’s sponsors not wanting to be associated with organizations who say it’s okay to be an asshole off the field as long as you stay good at scoring points on the field*. PLEASE: Walk away.
* Unless, of course, there’s video.