What I know about the U.S. is the overwhelming majority of people know next to nothing about police agencies. Where they evolved from. What the science of their existence looks like. Why people are outraged at their practices and why protests against them take place. Most people cannot provide you a comprehensive analysis on any of those things although the topic is in the news cycle pretty much every day.
Of course, most people don't really care to know much about any of the things mentioned above. For the majority of people, just relying on their subjective vision of the world, based almost exclusively on their individual experiences, is enough to inform them about why things happen in the world the way they do. That is true for them until they have an experience with systemic issues. Then of course, the world should stop to pay attention to what has happened to them, but meanwhile, they don't care for the most part.
So, I'm not watching to build anything or do anything against those people. I'm not at all interested in changing their minds about anything on earth. The reason for my absence form the NFL goes much deeper than that. I had been a pretty active San Francisco 49er follower since, I admit, their first Superbowl run in 1981. I paid my dues as a fan too because I continued to follow them through the lean years of the 2000s. I watched as intensely and diligently when their quarterback was Troy Smith as I did when it was Joe Montana or Steve Young. And, although I disagreed and was offended by the way the team handled star players like Bryant Young, Frank Gore, Navarro Bowman, and of course, Kaepernick, it was actually something that had nothing to do with the Kaepernick issue and/or the 49ers that made me decide to stop watching indefinitely.
If you have a soul and you like professional sports in the U.S., you have to establish some level of balance in how you engage these sports because the model of professional athletics is a clear case of well paid slavery. Everyone is programmed to begrudge the players for making money while paying absolutely no attention to the owners who make much more than the players while having the morality of fresh horse manure. And, far too many of the players are absolutely disgraceful human beings beyond their ball playing abilities. Still, I watched because that is my outlet and I felt I did so with integrity. To me, it was no different, for example, than those who smoke weed as their release, or drink alcohol, things I don't do, when those things are tied to scores of African and other colonized and poor people being killed and incarcerated. I would never judge those who use those mechanisms and that's why I refused to let people judge me for enjoying four or five football games per year.
It was when Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones offered contracts to Defensive player Greg Hardy and Ezekiel Elliott (the first time), with both accused, and Hardy confirmed, of domestic abuse. This isn't uncommon in the NFL, but when Jones declared the greatness of these young men while turning around and saying that no one playing for his Cowboys would be permitted to stay with that team if the player participated in any protest against police terrorism. For me, at that moment, the hypocrisy reached a fever's pitch. I could no longer justify my watching a game where that level of disrespect for our people was tolerated and the fact Cowboys players like Dak Prescott and Elliott signed on to Jone's comments (like so many current and former NFL players), just made me sick to my stomach. The hypocrisy of the concussion situation in the NFL just made those issues worse for me. It was modern day plantation politics. I wanted no part of it and I decided not to watch. I said then that I probably wouldn't watch again and three years later I have absolutely no desire to watch an NFL game. The thought of it still makes me sick to my stomach.
I think for most people, sports is an outlet so I would never shame anyone who still watches. I will only say that dignity starts with demanding people respect you and to me, for us to succumb to the hypocrisy of professional football and do nothing except keep supporting our team? At that point we start to earn the disrespect.
All of this runs much deeper than whatever happens to Kaepernick e.g. whether he plays again. Or, whatever the hell type of modern day hip/hop minstrel show Jay Z is playing for capitalism. I'm not advocating any boycott against the NFL. I have my movement work already and its not reformist work so I wouldn't be organizing any boycotts, but I'm not mad at anyone who does that. My position is more one of self care. Self respect. They can take their league and do whatever they want with it. I can find much more productive things to do with my time and other outlets and I've done that. Like a long and thought clearing bike ride. Having more time to write. Other entertainment, relaxing, and productive activities. So, I'll wait for the NBA season to start, but I'm under no illusion that they are on any type of higher plain. In fact, they are probably just a few short clicks from me tuning them out also.
At some point, we as people have to learn how to not so easily give our power away. The NFL, NBA, and all professional sporting leagues accept millions of dollars in payoff money from the imperialist U.S. military to promote this pro-America, make America first message which is code for its ok for you to rob and steal the rest of the earth blind. And, if anyone decides to question your right to do that, you have every right to exterminate them. We permit them to defend the national song of this country when that song clearly defends and protects the institution of slavery that terrorized our people for centuries. The entire wealth of this country and the entire capitalist world was built upon our people being terrorized and we accept all of that brutal symbolization just so we can sit on a couch and watch Elliot run for a touchdown. Or Khalil Mack record a sack. Or LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard dunk. We endure all levels of disrespect to get our nails done. To live in certain neighborhoods. People openly and overtly disrespect us to our faces and we video them while asking them over and over while they dehumanize us if they mean to behave that way towards us. All of this is terrible role-modeling for our youth. Its a major contradiction. Especially how some of us want to lecture our youth on proper behavior. Then, we act surprised when our youth don't respond favorably to our messaging. Why should they? Where in our lives are we demonstrating dignity to them? At some point, the question has to be raised with us about how important watching that touchdown is. And, if you think this is just about watching a sporting event, you are missing the point. How do you find ways to address the contradictions while still enjoying your love for the game? Is there a way to do that and if so, what are our ideas on how to accomplish this? Right now, the only thing happening is we are being disrespected in an open and dismissive way and our response for the most part is go out and buy jerseys and talk trash supporting our teams. Teams owned by people who view us no differently than the slave masters viewed their slaves. Take that reality, put it on instant replay, and reevaluate where we stand in relationship to that sad, but true, existence.