Just because people possess “the right” to do something, does it mean they should always exercise that right?
I mean, given that you most certainly have the right to wear a swimsuit in the snow or jump into the Grand Canyon to see what’s at the bottom, should you actually do so?
It’s one thing to have rights, such as those protected by our Constitution. But are there times when it might be just as rightful or important to not act on some right — especially when it involves a frivolous or misguided use of one which simply cheapens legitimate expressions of freedom?
That seems to be the case with the recent protests at National Football League games. Players have been kneeling, locking arms or otherwise disrespecting our country and what it stands for during the performing of the national anthem and presentation of the flag.
Even as a longtime football fan, such displays have sickened me to the point I am considering making a drastic change in my viewing habits by turning my attention to something else, such as soccer (OK, maybe I won’t resort to that yet).
However, the scenes of players showing such disrespect have been troubling, particularly when they’re standing, or kneeling, just a few feet away from military members and others proudly placing their hands over their hearts or saluting as you should do during the anthem.
Supposedly, the NFL players are exercising their right of expression and the right to protest, although it‘s unclear what exactly it is that they are protesting.
If it involves a protest against our American way of life, as evidenced by their disrespect during the national anthem, or supporting the notion that the U.S. is an oppressive nation due to its treatment of blacks or others, then this seems ill-suited to the ranks of NFL players.
After all, the American system has done pretty well by them considering their average salaries of $2 million or some other ridiculous figure. It’s a system that has offered enormous opportunities to members of downtrodden minorities, with the make-up of the National Football League about 75 percent black.
And even if players are truly genuine in believing in their right to protest and consider these actions worthy while engaging in them with a straight face, there’s another thing about rights which they should be respectful of — but aren’t.
It’s the commonly accepted belief that one person’s rights end where another’s begin.
What about the “right” of fans to attend a football game without having politics imposed upon them? These long-suffering fans pay huge costs for tickets, parking and concessions just to escape from their daily work lives and real-world issues such as politics and conflicts.
Yet they have to sit there in the stands and watch a bunch of pampered millionaires disrespect the country that has made their lifestyles possible. Furthermore, they are engaging in this behavior not only in front of captive fans in the stands and television audience, but doing so in stadiums that in many cases were funded with taxpayer dollars.
I’m sure the contracts these players have signed require things such as showing up for practice sessions, meetings and games and performing to the best of their ability. Those contracts say nothing about engaging in public political protests.
If these players want to impress me, they should sever their ties to the American system altogether, including the NFL and its high salaries, and do their kneeling or arm locking out on the streets on their own dime.
The really sad thing about this is that the players are digging themselves a deep hole they might never get out of if they persist with this ignorance — fourth down and a mile, to use gridiron terminology.
The TV networks (which shouldn’t be showing the kneeling, etc., at all) seem to be advancing the narrative that the public is on the players’ side, which is not true.
A poll by one research group concluded that 64 percent of Americans believe NFL players should stand and be respectful as the anthem plays. Just 24 percent disagree.
The players, for their part, say it’s all about team unity and love, but they actually are serving as pawns for a larger movement now under way in America.
Its ultimate goal is to destroy our sense of nationalism and national identity while allowing open borders and attacking the foundations of democracy — such as the Constitution and symbols like the flag. And who knows what’s next.
NFL players must wake up and realize they are playing a losing game before it’s too late — before fans figure out they can live without them if it means saving the country.
Tom Joyce is a staff writer for The Mount Airy News. He may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.