Social Quicksand [Daily Game]

In Blog, Daily Game, Leadership, Mental Toughness, People Skills
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You know, or at least have heard about, the NFL’s national anthem kneeling issue/protest/controversy. The NFL had announced a rule that all players would be required to stand during the anthem, a measure that was quickly met with fiery retorts from a handful of NFL players and (more importantly to me) the social media army. The NFL quickly backtracked and announced that they would instead continue discussions with the NFL Player’s Association until an acceptable agreement could be reached.

As of this writing, there’s no official resolution.

In the meantime though, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones announced that all players on his team would be required to stand during the anthem if they wanted to play for his team, regardless what final word from the League says. Cowboys star quarterback Dak Prescott recently stated that he would, indeed, stand during the anthem, explaining that he would do so even without Jones’ proclamation and even if he wasn’t playing for the Cowboys.

From that article:

“I never protest during the anthem and I don’t think that’s the time or venue to do so,” Prescott said. “The game of football has always brought me such at peace and I think it does the same for a lot of people playing the game, watching the game and a lot of people that have any impact of the game. So when you bring such a controversy to the stadium, to the field, to the game … it takes away. It takes away from the joy and to the love that football brings a lot of people.”

As you can imagine, this statement didn’t go over well with social media.

Rapper The Game had some choice words aimed at Dak. Even BET (well, an employee at BET) jumped in a threw a couple shots at Dak in an article displaying The Game’s IG post. A Raiders player made a joke. And the social media peanut gallery of people who we don’t know had plenty to say about Dak’s cooning.
We are in a bad place right now.

For Your Game

  1. Dak stated that football is, basically, his safe space, his sanctuary, one which he wouldn’t want to mix with protests and political statements and such. There’s nothing wrong with that. Football is where Dak works and he has the right to choose not to protest at work. Many athletes over the years have said the same thing — the sanctuary part at least — here’s Michael Jordan saying it exactly. Mike also famously refused to get involved in political conversations during his playing days. While a few prominent Blacks, such as Jim Brown and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, attacked MJ for it back then, our climate today is waaay different. Everyone has to take a side now, and be sure to make a show of it. Which leads to my next point….

  1. Social media may be our Trojan Horse. And when I say our, I’m referring to the tech-savvy African Americans (We manor up most of the NFL and NBA) who are avid users. If you don’t know the story of the Trojan horse, it’s simple. Back in the day, the Greeks were laying siege to the independent city of Troy. After ten years of trying, the Greeks had not succeeded. So the Greeks created a large horse as a sort of gift or trophy to the resilient people of Troy, left it outside the gates of Troy, and sailed away, returning home empty handed. The people of Troy took the gift horse into their city as a souvenir. Only thing was, Greek soldiers were hiding inside this huge horse, and the Greek army hadn’t sailed home; they’d just pretended to. The soldiers hiding inside the horse crept out overnight and opened the gates of Troy, allowing the Greek army to pour in. The Greeks subsequently destroyed the city of Troy. The “gift horse,” then, is anything that seems to be a positive gain that, in the long run, hurts a lot more than it helped. I wrote a couple days ago about how social media gets into a lot of people’s heads in a bad way, especially when they work in a public-facing job. Even for the nobodies amongst us, social media is the new high school lunchroom, the place where your tweets and IG captions validate your coolness — and I guess now with the kneeling issue, your blackness. Speak up for or against the wrong thing, and your mentions get lit on fire in a bad way. What makes it fucked up is…

  1. The majority of the people attacking Dak — orthose applauding the pro-kneelers — have nothing on the line. Those who call Dak a coon for stating that he will stand for the anthem, they aren’t kneeling at any point during their work days. None of them are risking their employment status or paychecks to “speak out” about police brutality or social injustice. Tweets and IG posts are talk, and we know how much talk is worth. But many athletes, especially those who feel a need to tweet or Instagram their stances to the public, are closely measuring the response of those not-invested folks for their acceptance. This is why we don’t know how people really feel about this whole NFL situation — most people, by my estimation, wouldn’t want to come anywhere close to the backlash they’d receive for saying (or agreeing with) what Dak said. Due to the heat coming from the peanut gallery, it’s impossible to tell who really believes in what he’s saying these days; it’s all a show. And when you start letting the spectators control your actions, you’re in trouble. We are already there.

  1. Means Vs Ends. Colin Kaepernick, the guy who started all this, has almost become an afterthought in the whole topic nowadays, what with him being out of the NFL since 2016. Kaep started the kneel because he wanted a conversation about social injustice. Well, we got half of it — there’s a helluva conversation going on — but it ain’t about social injustice. It’s about kneeling and the NFL and the USA flag and everything else. I haven’t spoken to Kaep, but I would assume the conversation he wanted would be followed up by actual actions to cure the injustice, right? That’s the real outcome he’d want, right? Well, look at where we are now: Fighting for the right (?) to kneel during the anthem. Saying you’re going to kneel, clapping for those who do or attacking someone who won’t, is now a PR victory amongst certain audiences.  Let’s say, then, that the NFL agrees to let any player do whatever he wants during the anthem — kneel, fist in the air, stay in the locker room, whatever — in this case, the kneelers would win. But what has been won? What’s the achievement? If every NFL player kneels during the anthem, what social injustices are cured? How does it stop a cop from killing a Black person? This is why social media could be a Trojan horse…

  1. We’re fighting over and striving to gain wins that aren’t real wins. We can talk all our shit on social media and become celebrated heroes there, and maybe win the right to kneel during anthems — this is the main point of contention right now — and still be in the same spot that caused Kaep to kneel in the first place. Even if this battle is “won,” nothing is gained. Kaep started this off with a worthy goal of addressing social injustice. Now, it’s about kneeling or not, and people are fighting this battle as if it were the actual goal (Kaep deserves some responsibility for this, as his relative silence from the start of this thing allowed the issue to be hijacked by the anti-kneeling population, most vocally President Trump). There’s a word for all of this, when you start off going for one outcome but end up battling for (and maybe even winning) a much lesser outcome: Checkmate.


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