McArdle: The NFL can't afford to become a battleground


Requested about it after the sport, coach Mike Tomlin merely referred to an earlier assertion on the reasoning for retaining the staff within the locker room whereas the Star-Spangled Banner performed: he needed the workforce to be unified in no matter it selected to do. “Individuals should not have to decide on,” Tomlin stated. “If a man needs to go about his regular enterprise and take part within the anthem, he should not be pressured to decide on sides. If a man feels the necessity to do one thing, he should not be separated from his teammate who chooses to not.” However as Villanueva appears to have acknowledged, staying within the locker room isn’t merely a impartial act; additionally it is a selection, of tribal loyalties over nationwide ones.

Workforce unity is an admirable objective for a coach. However to safe that unity, he requested Villanueva, a West Pointer who served in Afghanistan, to chorus from publicly honoring a logo of the bigger staff we’re all imagined to be part of: america. The coach requested him to decide on tribal unity over the nationwide type. It is a false selection, however one which lots of people are nonetheless being pressured to make. And it doesn’t matter what they select, lots of people find yourself indignant.

Tomlin himself, in fact, was clearly in a nasty place. And I’ve sympathy for the gamers who put him there. I perceive why individuals with a platform would need to use it to publicly categorical the sensation that plenty of black People have: that their nation doesn’t deal with them as utterly equal residents, however as a caste aside.

Feeling like a citizen is greater than being entitled to hold the passport overseas. In case you are repeatedly stopped by police, demanding to know who you’re and what you are doing right here, you’re apt to really feel like exiles in your personal nation. Individuals who really feel this manner might view the nation’s anthem as one thing lower than a sacred expression of an inviolable nationwide unity. Or maybe they see it as embodying that splendid, of which our nation is falling brief.

Lots of people do not see it that means, nevertheless. Gamers refusing to supply a small symbolic honor to the nation that has made them among the many richest and most revered individuals within the historical past of humanity … nicely, to many odd followers who can’t dream of such standing or wealth, it appears frankly ungrateful, and disrespectful to the legions of much less exalted People who finally pay their salaries.

President Donald Trump was pleased to capitalize on this additionally-comprehensible sentiment. In a collection of tweets this weekend, he referred to as for the gamers who will not honor the…



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