Last night at a political rally in Alabama, Donald Trump teed off on NFL protests stating, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired! He’s fired!”
The left wing sports media has, predictably, reacted with indignation and outrage, but a substantial majority of Americans agree with Trump here. That’s because Trump’s opinion isn’t that controversial. And as a First Amendment absolutist, I don’t have any problem with Trump responding to player protests with his own opinion of how he thinks owners should respond to player protests.
In fact, Trump’s opinion makes total sense when you take this discussion outside the world of sports.
Trump tees off on NFL, CFB previews https://t.co/bAbegs7mqW
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) September 23, 2017
Let me give you an analogy: if a Fed Ex or UPS driver, an individual whose employment requires him to wear a uniform, insisted on wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat and insisted on putting a “Make America Great Again,” bumper sticker on his vehicle and refused to alter his behavior during package deliveries, wouldn’t it make sense for UPS or Fed Ex to fire that employee?
I think every single person reading this right now would agree that would make sense. The UPS or Fed Ex driver has the first amendment right to make his political opinions known, but he doesn’t have that right to do so while employed, wearing a uniform and driving a truck on behalf of his employer. That’s because when you put on a uniform and accept a paycheck you are subsuming your individuality to become a part of something larger. In exchange for your paycheck, you alter your behavior.
It would be easy for a customer to see that driver’s hat or bumper sticker on his vehicle and connect it to UPS or Fed Ex, creating the impression that UPS or Fed Ex favored Donald Trump over other political candidates.
That would, indisputably, be bad for their business.
Now, that same Fed Ex or UPS driver can certainly put a “Make America Great Again” bumper sticker on his private vehicle and wear a Trump hat the instant he clocks out of work and changes into regular clothes, but the moment he puts on a uniform and begins driving a vehicle for the company, the company wouldn’t allow that. Put simply, there’s a difference between speech being made in your private life and speech that you make when you are employed.
Similarly, would WalMart or McDonald’s, two of the largest retail and restaurant companies in the country, have the right to fire an employee who insisted on wearing an “I’m With Her” Hillary Clinton tshirt on the job instead of their work uniforms? Again, I think everyone would agree the answer is yes.
And this doesn’t just have to be political candidates either, it can certainly be political speech too. If an employee was wearing an “Abortion is murder” button or a “Screw the NRA” tshirt, that speech wouldn’t be allowed either. If an employee insisted on making statements about abortion or gun control on the job, that employee would be fired.
I don’t think there’s a single person who has read these examples that would disagree with me.
Why would Fed Ex, UPS, McDonald’s and WalMart all make the same decision, to fire someone who chose to advocate for a political cause at work? Simple, because it’s bad for business. All four of those businesses serve every person in the country, Democrat, Republican and independent. When you get a package delivered, go buy a Big Mac or stock up on every product under the sun at Wal Mart, you aren’t expecting to be confronted with an employee’s political statement, which you may or may not agree with.
It makes zero sense for any business to alienate half its potential customers.
So if you agree with me that Fed Ex, UPS, McDonald’s and WalMart would all be well within their rights to fire an employee who insisted on making a political statement on the job, why is it controversial for Donald Trump to say that a football player choosing to protest and make a political statement in the only three hours when he wears his team’s uniform all week is bad for business and he thinks NFL owners should cut a player for doing so?
The logic is the exact same for an NFL owner here as it would be for Fed Ex, UPS, McDonald’s or Wal Mart, advocating a political belief is bad for our business because everyone’s political beliefs are different. So we don’t do it.
Just like UPS and Fed Ex customers just want their package delivered without politics involved and McDonald’s customers just want their Big Mac without politics too, most NFL fans don’t want to deal with player political statements, they just want to watch football.
Mixing politics and football is bad business for the NFL just like it would be bad business for UPS, Fed Ex, McDonald’s and Wal Mart.
And, please, stop with your first amendment arguments, they just make you look dumb.
Every NFL player still has the ability to advocate for whichever political cause he wants in all the hours when he isn’t wearing a team’s uniform on the field. That player can call press conferences to advocate for his causes, run for office, Tweet, Instagram, SnapChat, and Facebook to his heart’s content. But when he’s on the field in his uniform, it’s bad for NFL business for him to be adopting a political position. Just as Fed Ex, UPS, McDonald’s and Wal Mart wouldn’t allow an on the job in uniform political advocacy, why should the NFL? (I would have an issue with an NFL team firing a player specifically because of his off field political opinions, just like I have an issue with ESPN firing Curt Schilling for his transgender bathroom beliefs.)
Mixing sports and politics is bad for the NFL business and Trump’s comments reflect that opinion.
Thanks to a robust first amendment we can all agree or disagree with many of Trump’s opinions, but in this one, he’s 100% right.
NFL players protesting in their uniforms on the field is awful for the NFL’s business.