It has been a busy week for Outkick, the most listened to and downloaded week in the history of the site, so thanks for that. This month has also been the most listened to, read, watched and consumed month in the history of Outkick. So everything has been a total whirlwind.
Spoiler alert, I’m alt right and all of you who like me are racist, sexist morons.
It’s a lazy thesis unsupported by evidence and I’d hoped for a more interesting piece, but all publicity that doens’t threaten jail time is good publicity so welcome to any of you who are visiting Outkick for the first time.
At 1:30 et today I’m going to do a special Outkick the Show with Brett Favre as our guest so you can look forward to that.
With that in mind, let’s go ahead and dive into the mailbag.
Jeff C. writes:
“I would love to hear your take on the way I’m thinking on the NFL protests. I call myself a radical moderate, just like you, and point out the negatives in both left and right thinking. I do not care at all who sits, stands or kneels for the anthem. I am watching the games because I love football.
This is why I think that the people who are cancelling their NFL redzone packages are showing the dreaded faux outrage. Do these people really get that upset about the players kneeling? If you absolutely love football there’s no way a few players kneeling triggers you so much that you can’t watch the game.
Maybe I am in the minority, but a protest against “racial injustice” isn’t going to keep me from cancelling my subscription and stop watching the NFL altogether. I would love to hear your thoughts.”
We got a ton of questions about the NFL protest, but I’m using this one as a jumping off point because I got quite a few similar statements on Twitter about the protest and the response to the protest.
Let’s start here — the first amendment is a two way street. The players have a right to make their political statements — although I do think most are overlooking how often political statements are made at work in a uniform — and then fans and owners and media have a right to react to that statement as well.
And if you completely disagree with a company or prominent employee’s stance on politics choosing to not spend your money with that company is the exact opposite of faux rage, it’s firing back with your own first amendment speech and putting your money where your mouth is. To me faux rage is outrage on social media that is fake and unsupported by any tangible action other than angry Tweets or Facebok posts. Changing your behavior,either in economic or leisure pursuits, is a tangible act, the exact opposite of faux rage.
Now, personally, I’m not going to change my behavior over the protests, but that’s because I’d keep watching the NFL even if the entire Tennessee Titans franchise came out in favor of ISIS. I’m a Titans season ticket holder and I completely disagreed with the team’s decision not to run out onto the field, but I’m not going to burn my tickets or stop watching games. (I’ve already paid for them. That would be the equivalent of burning a pile of money).
If anything, you can call me a hypocrite here. I’m not doing anything at all even though I disagree with the decisions of my favorite team. The fans deciding to cancel their NFL Sunday Ticket or turning off NFL games are putting their money where their mouth is, I’m not.
Ultimately there were five principal actors in this NFL anthem dispute: Donald Trump, the players, the owners, the fans, and the TV networks. Everyone but Donald Trump loses in a big way in this dispute. Trump serves red meat to his fan base which all agrees with him that players should stand for the national anthem and he manages to even grab the majority on a political issue, with Americans as a whole agreeing with him by a three to one margin.
Was Trump intentionally focusing on this issue to distract from health care reform failing, his new travel ban being introduced and the release of his tax plan? Potentially. Because it definitely soaked up all the attention in the political atmosphere.
Meanwhile the players, owners, and TV partners all get crushed here. I’m going to put this in bold because it’s 100% true — THE NFL DOESN’T NEED TO BE INVOLVED IN POLITICS.
Walk into any NFL stadium in America and the fans in there voted for Donald Trump. Football fans vote Republican, this has been well established time after time in research. Liberals tend not to like college football or the NFL. The players, to the extent they voted, probably did not vote for Trump.
This means there’s a profound disconnect between the talent, the players, and the people who pay their salaries, the fans. So long as the players are not overtly political that disconnect doesn’t matter. But the moment the players make their political beliefs known, many fans, who may well have voted for Donald Trump, see their football fandom as directly subsidizing political speech they disagree with.
And that’s not going to make them happy at all.
Most will just quietly seethe and not take any action, but many will feel compelled to act out.
The easiest analogy for me here is the Dixie Chicks. Remember that the Dixie Chicks went overseas and ripped George W. Bush. The result was their fan base revolted against them. Prior to those statements, the disconnect between the Dixie Chicks and their fan base didn’t matter. Because the Dixie Chicks weren’t a political force. But the minute they entered the political arena their fans felt compelled to fire back with their own speech, and bury the Dixie Chicks for having such different political opinions than the people who made them rich.
To me it’s a perfect analogy with the NFL. The talent, the Dixie Chicks and the the NFL players, have profoundly different political beliefs than the fans who support their work. So long as politics isn’t involved, that’s fine. But the minute you go political the fans voice their displeasure and your business becomes threatened.
Now the average NFL player probably doesn’t spend much time thinking about how he gets paid or where the money for his paycheck comes from. That’s not uncommon, most people think like employees, not business owners, but the NFL owners have to see this fan revolt and know, regardless of their own politics, that this is awful for business. Which is why I suspect this protest will get reigned in a great deal this coming weekend.
But if it doesn’t, or god forbid, if it grows, the NFL is in for a world of hurt.
It’s just bad business to alienate your base, and make no mistake about it, Republican voters are the base of football fans in America.
Finally, on the protests, the players lack a coherent goal and they are protesting in a way that alienates anyone they might be attempting to persuade into becoming an ally. Colin Kaepernick’s initial protest was against racist police killing black people. He wanted those police brought to justice and for police not to get away with committing crimes. Well, the President of the United States, Barack Obama, and his attorney general, Loretta Lynch, were already doing exactly that, conducting federal civil rights investigations to ensure that killer cops weren’t escaping justice.
I don’t know if Obama just feared making Kaepernick look bad or what, but Obama could have easily pointed that while he appreciated Kaepernick’s “protest” that the federal government was already doing their own federal investigations of police shootings and doing exactly what Kaepernick was requesting. Essentially Kaepernick’s protest was the equivalent of a guy going into McDonald’s at 11:30 AM and taking a knee to demand breakfast be served all day long only to have the McDonald’s manager come out and let him know that McDonald’s already served breakfast all day long.
Kaepernick’s protest was, honestly, one of the most nonsensical protests in American political history. I think the only reason most people didn’t call him out on it is because they’re afraid of being called racist.
Furthermore, the purpose of a protest is to change something and in order to change something you have to convince people who aren’t on your side to join your side. By taking knees during the anthem, the protesters are killing any chance of ever having people support them that didn’t already support them.
Honestly, this “protest” is one of the dumbest stories in American sports history, but it could have a crippling effect on the NFL business if the league isn’t careful.
Hopefully the NFL will be able to get players backed to serving the vast majority of their audience who are just there to watch football games, not be confronted with politics.
Remember, for everyone out there trying to compare Kaepernick with Ali, leaving aside the fact that Ali was protesting a war and was a public figure in the middle of the Civil Rights era, Ali wasn’t on a team and he wasn’t employed by anyone else.
He was an individual.
Even the Olympic athletes with their black power salutes were essentially just representing themselves. We have never seen a athlete in a team sport protesting while in uniform during the time the game is going to be played. It’s just an awful look for business.
“OK, you are an attorney and I am not, but I believe strongly that the FBI has soooo overreached with its latest indictments in this so-called scandal. I’m sorry, but fraud involves real-live harm in which someone has acted deceptively and the other party actually is harmed either by having some of their wealth/resources taken from them under false pretenses, or they have been promised different results than what actually occurred – and the originator of the exchange knew in advance that he was presenting false outcomes.
Please tell me where that has happened in this situation? The families got money. They were better off. The family and athlete know they are being paid and why they are paid and that Adidas wants to be associated with them. They have the free will to choose a Nike school or any other shoe company. Period. They are not defrauded.
I’ve gone round and round on Facebook with an attorney who says that since federal money is tied into the colleges, then anything that “defrauds” the colleges involves a federal crime. That is crap. If that is true, then if I take a long lunch or fail to keep office hours one day, I have defrauded the federal government. The federal fraud statutes are b.s.”
I agree with you.
Put simply, I believe fraud requires a victim.
Who’s the victim here? The player got money to go to a school and the school got a great player. That may be an NCAA violation, but it isn’t a legal one.
As for the assistant coaches who took money to advise the players to accept particular financial advisers, is that wrong? The player doesn’t have to take their advice. It may be an NCAA violation to do work referring clients to financial advisers, but why is that improper outside of NCAA rules?
Remember, NCAA rules aren’t laws. They can impact your eligibility to play college sports, but they have no significant consequences otherwise.
Furthermore, why do we need a three year investigation by the FBI into college players being paid to go to colleges in exchange for money in the first place? Is this really how you want your tax dollars spent? Is it really a surprise that when there’s a black market for talent — caused by NBA rules that don’t allow players to go pro at 18 years old — that someone would step in to fill it?
These top college basketball players are worth millions of dollars and they aren’t allowed to get any of it. Instead all of the value of their talents goes to the school and the NCAA. If you want to get into morality, doesn’t that actually seem immoral? That the school and the NCAA would be able to make billions a year off the talent from poor kids, the majority of whom are black, and that the NCAA has even set up an enforcement arm to ensure that these kids are just as poor when they enter school as when they leave?
I just can’t believe that an anti-capitalistic system like this can exist in 2017.
I believe in markets and capitalism and the NCAA is fundamentally opposed to both.
“This FBI investigation into college basketball is fascinating to me. First of all, I am not sure how most of the allegations qualify as crimes. But what is most interesting to me is seeing how the NCAA responds and specifically their response to Adidas. Does the NCAA have to right to ban Adidas from participating in college athletics? I believe the NCAA has the right to prohibit schools from associating with certain boosters after they are found to have violated NCAA rules so I don’t know why it would be different here. Obviously, the ramifications of some sort of ban against Adidas would be much more dramatic to the landscape of college athletics. For instance, Adidas has a contract with Texas A&M that pays them millions per year. Could the NCAA ban Texas A&M and other schools from having contracts with Adidas?”
If a booster had done what Adidas did, that booster would be banned from ever having an association with the university again.
But because the shoe companies pay universities tens of millions a year, the NCAA will do nothing to them.
Fun fact, do you know which entity is responsible for the largest “improper benefits scandal” in NCAA history?
From the NCAA football video game.
The NCAA paid out millions of dollars in benefits to players for the use of their likenesses on the video game. If anyone else had done this they would have been classified as improper benefits and every player would have been ineligible.
But when the NCAA violated its own amateurism rules, they said it didn’t count.
The NCAA is a fundamentally dishonest, horseshit organization that has no basis to exist. As I have argued for years, which teams would be good if the NCAA didn’t exist at all? The same ones that are good now, right? It’s not like someone is deciding whether to go to Troy or Alabama, to Fresno State or USC. The entire NCAA bureaucracy is predicated on keeping the existing powers in place while guaranteeing that thousands of unnecessary employees can have jobs predicated on the hard work and value of top athletes.
It’s the closest thing to slave labor that exists in America today.