Football on Field

By John Ubaldi
Contributor, In Homeland Security

After a week in which President Trump aimed his rhetoric at North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un while addressing the United Nations, he then focused his venom in a heated confrontation with National Football League players. He rebuked the NFL players for refusing to stand for the national anthem, which is played before every football game.

Early Sunday, Trump tweeted, “If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!”

Trump Attacks NFL QB Kaepernick and NBA’s Stephen Curry

Trump reignited the controversy at a Friday campaign rally in Alabama, when he blasted former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick for refusing to stand for the national anthem last year. Other players followed by kneeling, a protest that has continued into the current season.

Kaepernick – an African-American playing for the San Francisco 49ers at the time – wanted to call attention to police brutality in the U.S., particularly in communities of color. Kaepernick is unsigned to a team this year and many players and sports columnists have argued that owners are effectively blackballing him because of his political views.

Trump later tweeted that basketball star Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors was uninvited after Curry announced he didn’t want to visit the White House. This visit is a tradition for championship teams.

Many people on both sides of the political aisle have suggested that Trump confine his time and energy to real matters affecting the country. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) said the president should focus on other issues, such as the North Korea crisis and health care.

Minority Inequality Is Missing in the Anthem Debate

The debate over whether or not to stand for the national anthem at NFL and other sports games has focused on the First Amendment rights of free and open expression and civil disobedience. But what is missing is the central theme of Kaepernick’s original motive – to bring awareness to the inequality in minority communities across America.

Why should we kneel in protest during the national anthem, but ignore the real injustices many minority communities face, such as the lack of access to a quality education? Access to a quality education is the surest way to a better quality life; Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson epitomizes this fact. He grew up in poverty in Detroit only to rise to be a world-renowned neurosurgeon.

California’s Dismal Education Record Affects African-American Boys

If Kaepernick and Curry were truly concerned about the plight of minorities, why not use their celebrity status to call attention to data from the California Department of Education and analyzed by journalism organization CALmatters? The findings showed that 75% of black California school boys fail to meet reading requirements for their grades.

Kaepernick and Curry make no mention of that dismal statistic.

“The state has spent tens of billions of dollars trying to lift poor kids and not one penny evaluating whether any of it is working,” said Bruce Fuller, an education policy professor at the University of California, Berkeley. “That’s outrageous. We’re heading into year five. It’s time to discern what’s effective and where we’re just wasting money.”

Nothing is said about this educational problem by the many athletes who play in California cities.

Athletes Not Protesting New York Mayor de Blasio’s War against Charter Schools

The same situation is being replicated in New York, where Mayor Bill de Blasio is waging a war against charter schools. The mayor has done everything he can to limit the expansion of charter schools.

Yet there is only silence from professional athletes in New York in support of minority parents who want to send their children to those better schools.

Where’s the National Protest on Big Issues Affecting Everyone?

The presidential campaign of 2016 failed to address the economy in any meaningful manner. It’s often noted that the economy grew only a minuscule 2.1% after emerging from the Great Recession of 2008, the weakest recovery after a severe economic downturn.

There has been no protest by any professional players, even as African-Americans have seen their income levels drop on average by $5,000 since 2009. Meantime, we are in an economic recovery.

Where’s the protest? Professional athletes in the NFL and elsewhere should focus their energy on improving the lives of the people living in their communities.