Something to Believe In

Nike sure divided their customers on this latest ad campaign.

It’s no secret that I am a conservative. So it should be no secret that I cannot support Nike. I will not buy another pair of shoes. I will not buy any more Nike clothing. And frankly, what I do have is either going to the garbage or to the donation pile.

Let me tell you why. It may not be what you think.

I believe in our Constitution. I believe that everyone has the right to feel in whatever way is best for them. I believe that anyone can speak freely, provided that speech is not hateful or divisive. I believe in this country and for everything that we have always embraced.

When this kneeling started, I will admit I was offended. The flag is a symbol of everything good and decent about America. I get choked up every time I watch it fly while the anthem is played. My kids rodeo, so almost every weekend, I watch a kid bring the flag into an arena and run it around during the anthem. Even as I’m writing this, I feel a tear slide down my cheek.

I was offended because I have had friends and family serve in the military. I’ve gotten news that friends died while serving. And some of my friends who have come back didn’t come back the same. But they willingly sacrificed to ensure that all of us living in this country would continue to live free.

Once the kneeling spread, I refused to watch any more football games, to the despair of my youngest son. But we talking, and I explained my reasoning. I cannot support an organization that will not support the very foundation of what this country is about.

The NFL refused to let Tim Tebow kneel down to pray. They refused to let him put a Bible verse in the eye black. Now, I’m not a religious person. I’m not vested in Tebow’s life at all. But this seemed odd to me, even at the time.

Then the NFL refused to allow players to honor fallen police officers. They refused to allow players to honor those who died on 9/11. They refused to allow a lot of things that players wanted to do, because it ‘didn’t comply with NFL ideals’.                  ‘

But they will allow players to kneel during the National anthem?

This smacks of hypocrisy so loudly that it’s almost funny.

Don’t these players sign contracts? Aren’t they employees of the NFL? If so, then why are they allowed to ‘protest’ during working time?

But the biggest issue for me is that these players who kneel claim to be doing so to draw attention to social issues: racial inequality, police corruption, oppression. I’m not saying that those things don’t exist. They do. But number one, I don’t think they exist at the level that these players would like you to believe. Number two, kneeling during the playing of the national anthem isn’t going to change anything.

If these people truly wanted to help. If they truly wanted to change social injustice, then they would get off their knees and go into their communities. They would use some of the millions of dollars they have been paid to help their communities. But few, if any, have done anything but make a spectacle of what used to be a solemn part of the game of football.

I don’t have any respect for the athletes who choose to kneel. These are millionaires who PLAY A GAME for a living. They have everything in the world. And they’re going to lecture me about oppression? About injustice?

The original kneeler was adopted and grew up in a very privileged household. He knew nothing of hard times. Or injustice. His kneeling was simply a way to gain attention. Not to mention the fact that he is a Muslim and doesn’t care about this country. So when Nike uses him as symbol for ‘standing up for something’, I have to wonder what exactly did he stand up for? And what exactly has he lost in his life?

Similarly, any celebrity who has the audacity to lecture others about income inequality (a billionaire former TV hostess), gun control (countless celebrities who are guarded by armed security), police brutality (a singer who advocates the killing of police officers). You get the point. These people live in a completely different world than most of us. They are insulated from the issues of poverty, safety, and hunger. Very few of them use their ample resources to help others in need.

I don’t need celebrities, athletes, singers, etc., or politicians telling me what I should or shouldn’t think or how I should believe.

Nike got this wrong. Their sales are increased right now. And that doesn’t surprise me. Liberals will order Nike products and jump their sales for a short time. But they can’t sustain that. In time, Nike will see the error in their bottom line. There are too many people like me who just can’t stomach the support of someone who chooses not to honor the very country that gave him such a privileged life. To me that is the greatest hypocrisy about this entire situation. None of these athletes or singers or actors would have achieved such fame or such fortune in any other country in this world.

This athlete hasn’t sacrificed anything. He hasn’t lifted a finger to help anyone but himself. And isn’t that the whole point of his protest? That others are in need of help. Then, why doesn’t he help them? He has the means. He certainly has the time, since no NFL team is going anywhere near him.

That’s why I cannot respect any of these screeching celebrities, preaching to us what we should or shouldn’t do. In general, they haven’t done anything to help anyone, unless it involves a sound bite or media attention. And in my life, these people really don’t matter. In fact, it’s people like me who have allowed these celebrities to live in their fantasy worlds. And if they offend enough of us, then they may find out what hardship looks like.

Look at what some the other athletes and celebrities have chosen to do with their resources: J.J. Watt, Jordy Nelson, Clay Matthew, Larry Fitzgerald; Chris Pratt, John Cena. These men use their time and resources to help others, in particular children. There are many more rich and famous folk who do use their fortunes for good, in good and decent ways. They aren’t doing this for attention or to be on the news. They’re doing this because they want to help. Protesters might want to ‘take a knee’ and think about that.

This kneeling crap is coming to a head. And it needs to. There has been irreparable damage done to the reputation of the NFL, of its athletes. And it’s creeping into other sports, like NBA, which I also refuse to watch. It may turn out that these athletes are going to knee cap themselves. Fans like me aren’t going to forgive easily.

If they were truly doing this as a sign of true concern, I’d respect them for it. But that isn’t what this is. These people are simply looking for attention.

My dad used to tell me all the time, the people who scream the loudest are usually the ones you shouldn’t listen to.

There is a growing list of athletes, sports team, singers, actors, etc. that I simply won’t support again. I can disagree with someone who has differing political views. I know that not everyone is going to see things the same way that I do. But when someone insists that I believe in their agenda, without even listening to mine, I walk away. I am strong in my convictions. I’m not going to change who I am or what I believe in simply because someone uses a megaphone to yell. Or because someone is crude enough to wear body parts as hats. Or because someone disrespects what I believe in.

Let’s be clear: Nike has the right to advertise however they see fit. Athletes have the right to kneel during the national anthem. Celebrities have the right to spout any nonsense they want while in the spotlight.

But I have rights as well. I have the right to express my beliefs in the form of monetary spending. I can choose whether or not to support a company or sports team or singer/actor based on whether or not I agree with them. I have the right to turn off the tv during football (or basketball or baseball) season. I have the right to leave movies and CDs on store shelves. I have the right to stay home and not watch a new movie at the theater. I have the right to buy products from companies that support and agree with my definition of patriotism, sportsmanship, and decency.

I don’t advocate boycotting everyone. I know not everyone else shares my strong beliefs. But there are a lot of us who quietly but decidedly make our opinions clear. I doubt I will ever return to being a sports fan, not with the same intensity or care that I once had. Of course, athletes aren’t in the same class as they were thirty years ago.

Today, most of the elite athletes – pick any sport – are overpaid, under talented, and spoiled. They aren’t grateful for the lives they have. They, as a group, are arrogant, demanding, and entitled. Too many of today’s athletes are part of the problems we have as a society. Same goes for actors who receive millions of dollars for mediocre performances. Or singers who all sound alike.

It used to be there were heroes among the celebrity. There were classy, honorable people that a parent could point out their children and hold us as role models. Sadly, that is all but gone. There are only a handful of celebrities in that category. Too many are just too focused on themselves to care about anyone else. Or to recognize their good fortune.

No. I can’t support people or companies who can’t support our flag. Because, after all, if they can’t recognize how fortunate they are to live here, then I have to wonder why they are still in this country. Isn’t that what is boils down to? If things are so bad here, and this country is so awful to live in, then all of those celebrities and athletes and anyone else can take their money and go live somewhere else.

Why haven’t they?

My guess is they’ve realized that with all of our problem, America is still the best place to live. I still believe in her. I still honor the flag. I still get teary when I hear the anthem. When that changes, I will know that things truly are dismal. Until then, I’ll keep standing for the anthem. I’ll keep crying silently when I hear those words. And I’ll keep true to what I believe.

I may be only one. But there are a lot of us ‘ones’ who will add up.

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