Quarterback Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys is no stranger to controversy. After the way his career has unfolded to date, it probably should not come as a shock that he found himself in the midst of another controversy; this time surrounding comments he made regarding the national anthem protests which have jarred the National Football League these past few seasons. Yet, in the aftermath of his comments, few have actually taken the time to go in with an open mind and actually consider the strange wisdom of Prescott’s words and the lessons which can be derived from them.
The issues which lie at the root of the anthem protests are multi-sided. As a result, there is no simple right and wrong side to them. There are many different factors to be evaluated if the problems which have arisen from these issues are to be constructively addressed. That means the pros and cons of both viewpoints must be considered.
This author has been given unique opportunities over the past several years to see both the good and the ugly sides of both viewpoints. After witnessing police bullying, martial-law style tactics, and systemic and individual civil rights abuses by law enforcement as well as cold-blooded shootings and verbal abuse of law enforcement officers seeking to protect innocent civilians, it is fair to say both sides have blood and guilt on their hands in the issues which have arisen today. Yet this author has also seen good people serving as law enforcement officers who respect the rights and requests of the people they are supposed to serve, take their oath seriously, and only seek to help rather than strictly punish. He also knows good people who respect law enforcement but also recognize that certain systemic abuses have crept into America’s law enforcement system which must be addressed and reformed. What this means overall is, there is careful, constructive work which must be done if the legitimate concerns which have arisen on both sides of the issue are to be addressed without harming or restricting the work of the good people who find themselves on either side in this issue.
Dak Prescott seems to understand this. He also seems to understand that real work needs to be done on the issues which have arisen, not just protesting the wrongs that are taking place. Most importantly however, he seems to understand the role that sports such as professional football play in the hyper, busy, and tense atmosphere which plagues America today.
Professional football is used by Americans today as a way of temporarily distracting themselves from the toils of everyday life and the hyper-sensationalism of the political and bureaucratic scene which seems to dominate the news and business cycles. Every human being needs occasionally to get away from these very taxing realities of life in order to give their mind and body a chance to rest and rejuvenate. Professional sports, especially football, have been one of these getaways for a number of years now, which is one of the main reasons the National Football League has made so much money in the last thirty years.
With this in mind, is it any surprise that football viewership has declined to the level it has in the past few years? To be certain, the national anthem protests have not been the only factor (other NFL scandals, plus the gradually declining economy have played huge roles as well), but it has certainly been the most public and most annoying factor. Even people who might sympathize with the players on their issue have become sick of the political circus which has arisen around the anthem protests. What Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid reportedly began as a well-intentioned effort, has spiraled into another sensationalized media event which has wearied Americans. This has led many NFL fans to desert the formerly beloved sport as they seek other (and cheaper) getaways from the stresses which dominate America’s current culture.
This should not have come as any surprise however. The backlash against broadcaster Bob Costas for bringing a very sensitive political issue into the halftime show of a nationally televised football game some years ago was a warning to keep politics out of a venue where it was not appropriate. However the warning went unheeded with the current situation the NFL now finds itself in, with the politics of the anthem issue now distracting and polarizing owners, coaches, players and fans and keeping them from focusing on their work of playing football, which is what fans pay to see in the first place.
Thankfully players such as Dak Prescott understand this. Prescott’s statement that he believed that football games were the wrong time and venue in which to protest shows that he comprehends and defends the role which professional football has in America. His continued standing by those comments in the face of all the social media backlash further show he is a principled person with a backbone who knows what he believes and stands by it. For this reason Dak Prescott should be thanked, commended and supported by NFL fans who just want to watch football and get away from the stress of life. In the particular case of this author, Prescott has gained a fan who will support him as a player and a person throughout his career. Thank you Dak.
© 2018 Grant Dahl & On This Terrestrial Ball. All rights reserved. This material may not be re-published, re-broadcast, re-written or re-distributed without permission from the author of this piece.