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Dear ESPN: It’s Not You, It’s Me

in The Life Slant by

Dear ESPN,

America has always been a divided nation. We began life feuding between Loyalists and Colonists, fought bitterly about States’ entitlements vs. a strong Federal government, divided ourselves into either Confederate or Union, disagreed on our role in the world and even established a declaration of War on the young people asking for Peace and Love.

For the past thirty-or-so years no matter who was in the White House or what disaster was in the news or who was dating whom, a high percentage of half the population could always find something to talk about, or at least make pleasant conversation. All you had to say was, “Did you catch SportsCenter last night?”

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Skating on Thin Ice – American Diplomacy in Pyeongchang

in The Political Slant by
Olympic Games Emblem

BOSTON —  The opening ceremonies of the 23rd Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea begin Thursday night.  In theory, the Games serve as a refuge from the geopolitical environment of the times. Nations put aside their conflicts and disagreements for what is supposed to be a peaceful and civil celebration of sport and competition.

The reality is that this is rarely true. From Jesse Owens defying Hitler at the 1929 Games in Berlin to American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos defiantly raising their fists in protest at the Mexico City Games of 1968 to the deadly Israeli hostage crisis at the 1972 Games in Munich, the Games have always been tinged with politics.

Jesse Owens
Jesse Owens

This year’s Olympic Games will be no different. The issue most obviously underpinning the whole Games is the escalating tensions between North Korea and South Korea (and their allies), which is only further exacerbated by the Games being held on the Korean peninsula. In the weeks and months leading up to the Games, it has often felt like a ‘two steps forward, one step back’ kind of situation between the two conflicted nations.

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NFL Protest Hypocrisy – A Foolish Irony

in The Political Slant by

NEW YORK — Professional athletes have every right to protest law enforcement during the singing of our national anthem at sporting events. We can picture the conversations between players and coaches where a guy like Colin Kaepernick would insist that he’d feel like a fake, like a complete phony, if he were to put his hand over his heart to honor a country that he feels continues to treat people of African descent unfairly, or minority groups in general.  

Understood. And on some level Mr. Kaepernick should be commended for staying true to his beliefs. It is also easy to see why coaches, team managers and owners have not seen it fit to scorn anyone who refuses to do that which they feel uncomfortable; that which they see as going along with empty and hollow symbolism for a country they do not deem as worth honoring, or worth respecting in moments such as these.

No, they should not be forced to stand at attention, hand over heart, for the singing of an anthem they simply don’t believe in, and no one, anywhere, should be demanding that they do.  

The problem is not in these players taking a knee in protest of American law enforcement or America at large. The problem goes much deeper than such things, and is multifold.  

Colin Kaepernick
Photo Credit: Washington Times

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Pizza & Politics: Papa John – Metaphor for America

in The Political Slant by
Making Pizza

BOSTON — John Schnatter, (now former) CEO of pizza chain Papa Johns, blamed declining sales on NFL anthem protests during the company’s quarterly earnings report. Papa John’s ($PZZA) trading fell by as much as 12%, losing about $70 million in value.

In a thinly veiled shot at commissioner Roger Goodell, Schnatter argued that the issue “should have been nipped in the bud” a year and a half ago, when Colin Kaeperinck first started to protest during the national anthem.

He went on to say that “once the issue is resolved” that he is “optimistic the NFL’s best years are ahead.” Papa John’s also announced they would be removing the NFL logo from all advertising campaigns in an attempt to distance themselves from the league and the protests, which he stated is “polarizing the customer, polarizing the country”.

Schnatter, an outspoken supporter of President Trump, is no stranger to mixing pizza and politics.

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Super Bowl LII, Anticipating Protest and Selective Outrage

in The Life Slant/The Political Slant by
Patriots Players Kneel in Protest

BOSTON — Ahead of the Super Bowl, millions of people may see NFL players silently protest by taking a knee during the national anthem. President Trump has made his feelings on this topic clear, initiating a feud with athletes who choose to kneel.

Weeks ago, at a rally for now failed Alabama senatorial candidate (and possible super-villain) Luther Strange, Trump encouraged NFL owners to fire those ‘sons of bitches’ who decided to kneel during the national anthem. He unleashed a barrage of tweets further admonishing those players, 17 tweets in all, despite the White House’s insistence that Trump is focused on more pressing issues like the hurricane in Puerto Rico or the North Korea crisis.

NFL Logo

Nearly every NFL team responded with messages of unity and support for their players right to protest. The number of players protesting during the anthem rose from about a dozen in the second week to over 100 by the third. Three teams decided to skip the anthem all together. 

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