With a major outbreak of kneeling during the national anthem forecast for the coming NFL season, Fox Sports 1's Rob Parker says the NFL ought to just abandon the pre-game tradition of playing the Star Spangled Banner. Writing on the Deadspin blog, Parker makes the outrageous claim that patriotism at sporting events is "draped in racism."
Parker writes that if the NFL is serious and really wants to do its part to allow its players to force change for minorities in an unjust society, it should lead with action and not just words:
"First order of business, eliminate the playing of the national anthem before each game."
Dumping the Star Spangled Banner "would be symbolic" and would serve two purposes, says Parker. "It would show that long-standing traditions can end, and it’s not the end of the world. Better yet, it would show the rest of America that the NFL, an iconic part of this country’s history, was embracing change.
"And that, brace yourself, the good-ole boys finally get it."
If the NFL did away with the pregame honoring of America, how could other sports not follow its lead, Parker asks.
Banning the "Banner" would supposedly take pressure off the players this season because they wouldn't have to worry about people's reactions to kneeling, but Parker appears to be clueless about how sacrificing the anthem for social justice will alienate fans.
"The flag narrative is no longer a viable option as resistance," Parker continued. "Just ask Saints’ QB Drew Brees. He went from standing up for the flag and his grandfathers’ service in the military to walking it back in just 24 hours as many came after him with the heat."
Parker says it was "shameful" for the NFL to partner with the Department of Defense for military displays at games in past seasons. "But it wouldn’t be the case if we just skipped the anthem altogether. Honestly, when you think about it, it’s really not that radical":
"Most Americans don’t stand for the national anthem before they start work every day. You would be hard-pressed to find any. The anthem doesn’t play at the theater, so why sporting events? And covering games for the last 34 years, I’ve endured my share of renditions."
Then Parker gets really goes off the rails, writing, "Sometimes, the patriotism narrative often feels like it’s draped in racism. Minorities — people of color and different ethic backgrounds — make up 40 percent of the military. And that’s an amazing number when you think most of those people often don’t get the same benefits in life as their white counterparts.
"Being patriotic isn’t exclusive to being white."
So, apparently, the best compromise between a fan base that's 70 percent white and a player base that's 70 percent black is to anger the fans by removing the national anthem from the pro football experience. "It will eliminate a potential huge headache on the horizon," the naive Parker predicts.
"When we reach the time when, indeed, that national anthem does reflect the life for all people in this country, the NFL can add it back," Parker adds. "And you can bet, there wouldn’t be a resistance — not even from Kaepernick."