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I’m Sick of Politics; I Want to Watch Sports

Photo from the Pittsburgh Penguins Twitter Account

The Pittsburgh Penguins accepted an invitation to visit the White House. As it should be. The Penguins won the Stanley Cup and earned a visit to the house inhabited by every President since Thomas Jefferson. Politics don’t matter. The Penguins politics don’t matter. Good for them.

Alejandro Villanueva stood proudly for the National Anthem, Sunday. As it should be. The hulking left tackle risked his life for our freedom to act like spoiled children and exercise rights listed in a constitution we often quote but haven’t read.

Yes, I’m worn out. I’m mad that no one is allowed to enjoy anything without either side of the political spectrum throwing a temper tantrum. Everyone, chill out.

At some point, this feels like a fight with my younger brother, when my parents would send us to our rooms despite our protests–“But he…!”. Someone, please be the bigger person here. Someone, please take that step forward. Someone please, for all that is holy and all that this country has achieved, all that it has done for the advancement of humanity and all of the lives we have saved from tyranny, oppression, and poverty, please take a deep breath.

Reach out to someone who is diametrically opposed and listen. Then talk. Then listen. Read more. Read both sides.

I had a nasty exchange with my friend, Mark Lazerus (Chicago Sun-Times) over police brutality, this weekend. Today, I regret it. He’s my friend. But that’s where we are at, today. Instead of discussing solutions, we argued different realities, both armed with statistics and facts. That makes me a hypocrite for writing this article, too.

And I’m sorry.

Political Weekend

It was a political weekend. Hell, everything is political in this era. Every thought, every word, is political. From the bathrooms we use to the food we eat are judged by inserting politics. We no longer have opinions, we have moral obligations to correct and shame anyone who steps out of line.

Let’s be clear: We’ve gone too far. We’re making our problems worse, not better because we can’t talk to each other.

Even support for public servants such as police officers has a racial tone.

There have been several awful incidents of unarmed black men dying at the hands of police officers, including Deravis Rogers in Atlanta. In fact, simply google “unarmed man shot by police” and there are pages of stories.

The shootings happened during a Democrat presidency and continue during a Republican presidency. This isn’t a Republican-Democrat thing. I also believe statistics show this isn’t even a white-black thing (Whites are the victim of a police shooting at the same rate commensurate with white violent crime rates, just as other racial groups are proportionally victimized at the violent crime rate in their communities, according to Washington Post statistics. In full disclosure, the WaPo came to a different conclusion because 24% of victims of police shootings are black, despite accounting for 13% of the population. Articles linked at the bottom).

We should know what is happening and why, but I also refuse to accept moral direction from an athlete who wears a murderous, communist dictator on his T-shirt as a symbol of being “woke”.

As adults, let’s discuss what we expect of police officers, why these incidents occurred and what we can realistically do to help. Doesn’t that seem a better solution than yelling slogans and kneeling during a solemn moment of unity; the National Anthem?

I’m not writing you can’t protest–I am writing there are better ways.

By kneeling during the Anthem, it’s symbolically removing yourself from the country which needs your help. It also leads more people to remove themselves and fans the flames of anger. Have the protests helped or hurt? You be the judge.

And someone please, for the love of God, stop our President from tweeting. You’re in the White House, not a Trump Tower reality show, kiddo. We look to our President for guidance and leadership in times of turmoil. We’ve got a chubby despot firing missiles over Japan and arming himself with nukes. We’ve got barbarians at the gate who are using social media to coordinate attacks to kill innocent civilians around the world because those civilians don’t follow the same interpretation of Islam, or have a different religious belief. And we are tearing ourselves apart.

I stand for the inalienable rights of every man, woman, and child in the United States and around the world. I think 99% of us do the same. I will not tolerate, participate in or stand silent if any person has their rights infringed. Period. However, I don’t care if you voted for Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Gary Johnson or Donald Duck. It is irrelevant to the conversation.

We can stand together and discuss where rights are being infringed. Let’s stop shouting and condemning others.

I’m sick of politics. Sports used to bring us together. I want to watch sports, again. And talk about important problems, but not at the same time. We need some common ground. Maybe you feel the same.

I respect your opinions. Leave them below. Please keep it civil–that’s the whole point of the column.

Here is the Washington Post Story about the disparity in violence

Here is a National Review Counter.

Feel free to read both. Then take a deep breath. It ain’t easy. But we must. That includes me, too.

Jayden Cole at Blush
8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. kman

    September 25, 2017 at 10:44 am

    Neutrality, silence, insistence that “this isn’t the time or place,” these are the tools of oppression by acquiescence or apathy. If you want to look the other way, or bury your head in the sand, or if you even affirmatively support that which others feel is injustice, that’s your right. And you are entitled to spend your free time however you want to spend it, including being entertained by television, or music, or sports. But you are not entitled to be entertained, by those entertainers, on your own terms. And your country’s flag and national anthem, that you stand for, are also their country’s flag and national anthem, that they have the right to address on their own terms. Taking the position that the issues causing them to kneel or sit instead of standing do not justify kneeling or sitting instead of standing *is itself* a political statement. You don’t get to say they should just suck it up and stand, in spite of whatever grievances they may have, and in the same sentence say you don’t want to get into the politics of it. It’s too late by then, you’re already “into the politics of it.” If you don’t like the position your entertainers have taken, don’t watch the anthem, or don’t watch the game. Maybe they’ll miss you, and maybe they won’t, but honestly, if it were me, I’d make sure I actually wanted to know the answer before I set about trying to find out.

    • Dan Kingerski

      September 25, 2017 at 11:03 am

      I point you to the line–“I’m not saying you can’t protest–I’m saying there are better ways”. If you think the protests have enhanced the discussion, I respect that. I believe the opposite. I believe there are better ways to have this conversation. Don’t mistake my opinion for neutrality or advocating silence.

      • ace

        September 25, 2017 at 12:33 pm

        If the Penguins really wanted to put “politics aside,” they would have declined the invite. Now, they have turned into pawns in Trump’s game. He’s going to use their visit as a political statement and a way to demean NFL and NBA players. Does anybody really think his speech will not involve politics?

        The photo of Crosby awkwardly smiling in the background while Trump makes off-color political remarks will haunt him for the rest of his career.

        • John

          September 25, 2017 at 7:43 pm

          If the penguins declined, they alienate half the population. They decide to go, they alienate the other half that didn’t vote for him. They went to Obama, and I didn’t protest. Everything is so political now. Let’s just watch them play

  2. kman

    September 25, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    Fair enough. And if you don’t want to weigh in on issues of social justice, that’s certainly your right. I wouldn’t presume to know how you vote, or how you think, or how your readers do, or how your employer does and what kind of latitude the writers here have to weigh in on political or social issues. You maybe very well have a different set of nuances in your thinking than a lot of other people who seem to be with you on this, but lately, I hear from a lot of sportswriters, and other famous people who are sports viewers, about how “there are better ways to have this conversation,” but very little about what those better ways are. And absent any such suggestions, the headline of this article, frankly, is rather poorly-chosen. In this context, it reads as something to the effect of “I support your right to express your beliefs and grievances, but please do so at a time and place that I can ignore.” Lots of people, some of them athletes, have indeed tried going about this in other ways, for years, donating large sums of money to causes, posting on social media, voting and telling people for whom they vote, and it seems that to a lot of them it doesn’t appear that any of those things have amplified the discussion to the extent that these sorts of protests have. I don’t think the idea is to end the conversation, or to “win” the argument. It’s a first step to make it as difficult as possible for people to avoid talking about. That sounds awfully unpleasant, I know, and it probably will be. But a lot of the time, the conversation you least *want* to have is the one you most *need* to have.

  3. Dcpinpgh

    September 25, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    So koan, if one thinks kneeling for the anthem is disrectful, then being silent or neutral would be signs of oppression . If one looks the other way, or bury their heads in the sand, then being silent is oppression, am I reading that correctly?

    Dan, how about personal responsibility? You commit a crime then attack a cop, and the cop doesn’t let you win the confrontation. That’s not a racial issue that’s individual actions. To many people put membership of a group over the indivual actions.

    • kman

      September 25, 2017 at 4:57 pm

      Dcpinpgh, just for clarity’s sake, it is totally fair to think kneeling for the anthem is disrespectful, that’s a separate question. I imagine there are players who kneel during the anthem and people who support their stance who would say others are misinterpreting the gesture as disrespect for the country or its military, and I’m sure there are people on the other side who would say the protesters are misinterpreting the gesture of standing as acceptance of everything the country does and allows to be done. People on opposite sides of most arguments have a tendency to claim they are being misinterpreted by their antagonists.

      But I certainly didn’t mean to say that silence was a “sign” of oppression, but rather that silence, or neutrality, or pleas to table discussion for another time, serves to perpetuate what already is. It doesn’t create oppression (though it can enable it, I suppose), but if a group of people is already being oppressed, and someone who is not a part of that group refuses to say anything about it one way or the other, or engage in debate about that oppression, they are tacitly endorsing the continuation of it.

      But I don’t think anyone can claim they are being “oppressed” by athletes kneeling during the singing of an anthem before a football game no one is making them watch. They can choose not to go to the game, or to change the channel. The argument the protesting players are advancing is that people of color do not have this option when it comes to police interactions, that they cannot change the channel on their daily lives, and that people who would rather just avoid thinking about that issue altogether (almost all of whom are people who are not affected one way or another by the treatment of people of color, particularly poor people of color, by law enforcement) are actually, whether by “staying out of it” or politely asking that the issue not be raised in a way that makes them uncomfortable during programming they otherwise enjoy, making a choice to allow it to continue, and those athletes are betting that at best, they can get some people to want to learn more about the issue and potentially join them in demanding change, and at the very least, they can advance the debate to a higher level in the public’s consciousness.

      Hope that clears up what I meant. Cheers.

  4. BubbaBanjo

    September 26, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    Amen Brother! Its like taking your muddy boots off at the door. Mama dont like it.

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