Stick To Sports? Columnists Weigh In On NFL Protests Around Trump Comments
President Trump's recent comments on the NFL could prove to be a turning point in sports that "forces all athletes to reckon with the world" away from the playing field, according to Cathal Kelly of the GLOBE & MAIL. Kelly: "Maybe for the first time in quite a while" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/26). In Houston, Jenny Dial Creech writes, "Our athletes are not puppets there just for our enjoyment. They are people. They have thoughts and opinions and rights." They also have a "platform that can be and is often used to do so much good in communities around this country." Creech: "I hope they'll keep setting examples. I hope they won't stick to sports. I hope they can use their reach to make things better" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/25). In Miami, Greg Cote notes NFL players have "taken the lead" on social activism. However, as evident during NBA media day yesterday, what fans are "seeing in the NFL is not isolated." It is "broadening and has begun to resonate across sports" (MIAMI HERALD, 9/26). SI.com's Charles Pierce wrote under the header, "Athletes Are Not Going To 'Stick To Sports' And That's An Admirably American Thing" (SI.com, 9/25). In Austin, Kirk Bohls writes NFL players "spoke loudly" on Sunday "even without speaking." The messengers "spoke loudly if not clearly." However,the message itself "may have been lost" or at the "very least blurred" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 9/26).
LOOKING AT THE OTHER SIDE: In Virginia, Harry Minium writes, "The problem here is that over the long haul, this controversy will tarnish the NFL’s image." The "pressure on players to conform, to take a knee or to remain in the locker room, is unhealthy for the NFL, and for our democracy" (Norfolk VIRGINIAN-PILOT, 9/26). In DC, Marc Thiessen writes Trump is correct in that NFL players' behavior is "hurting the league." If the league "won’t stop its players from disrespecting the flag, then maybe Congress should take a second look at some of the federal benefits the NFL enjoys" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/26).
GETTING PEOPLE TALKING: In Chicago, Rick Morrissey notes the discussion "isn’t going away." Morrissey: "It’s going to be very tricky, but it also has the potential to make people confront things that too often have been ignored" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 9/26). Ravens coach John Harbaugh said player protests are a "really good thing." Harbaugh: "That's a good thing (that) it's getting talked about. I think it's something that's a positive. It's not going to be easy. It's going to be painful" (Baltimore SUN, 9/26). In Columbus, Rob Oller writes, "You athletes own the floor at the moment. Hold a press conference instead of symbolically holding hands. Interact in person, not over the internet" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 9/26).