Self-imposed slavery on the sporting field?

We couldn’t help but notice the kneeling across global sporting codes over the weekend. In Australia, players of the AFL and NRL codes all took the knee. No one stood.

The football leagues across Europe did the same thing.

Have we just witnessed acts of modern day slavery?

No, we are not trying to draw an equivalence to those that suffered at the hands of real slavery more than a century ago. Let’s be absolutely clear.

However it is not hard to see capitulating to the mob by surrendering constitutional rights out of a fear of exercising them as a reflection of the bleak dystopian future that is rapidly approaching.

We can be absolutely sure that failure to publicly submit to causes like BLM will lead to vilification and worse. Best to fall in line (literally) to avoid being attacked and face the inevitable backlash from the verbally violent apparatchiks on Twitter.

Is it fair to assume that every player believed in the cause of kneeling for BLM? Or were some pressured to do so? Did they feel their contracts might come under threat for non compliance?

Worry they might. LA Galaxy star Aleksandar Katai was recently sacked for something his wife tweeted about BLM without his knowledge. Career over. Shouldn’t the incendiary tweets of a spouse live and die there? Should companies have the power to sack us for the free speech exercised by our own husbands or wives in their own time?

Do employers have rights to enforce behaviors of employees completely unrelated to their jobs especially if not bound by legal contracts?

Did woke sponsors threaten to withdraw support if they didn’t make the virtue signaling gesture? Or did the same sponsors fear secondary boycotts and demand players got on message? Will players and officials kneel at every match from now on?

Are police officers – who attend every sporting match for player and fan security – so in need of being vilified each game for things the overwhelming majority haven’t committed?

Let’s not forget the long list of disgraceful crimes committed by many sports celebrities including rape, murders, shootings, animal cruelty, prostitution rings, assault, robbery, illegal gun possession, DUI and resisting arrest to name a few. Are these the types of role models the sports bodies think should lecture the rest of us?

We don’t doubt that most players believe in the lives of black (and all) people but was there any resistance in the locker room beforehand? Did they fear an Israel Folau style social media lynch mob which might drag their own family members in the line of fire for failing to fall to their knees?

The NFL in America marks the next step for the rest of the world’s sporting codes.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made a woefully cringeworthy and cowardly apology for ignoring the cause started by Colin Kaepernick, who will now get to name his price. Watch Goodell make him a race liaison for the NFL. Forget that Kaepernick was an average quarterback when he played. Just sign him ahead of far better players in order to avoid censure. A multi-year lucrative multi-million dollar participation trophy awaits.

Goodell said the NFL condemns systemic racism. Really? Who knew? Why would the NFL have to publicly announce the bleeding obvious? c.70% of NFL players are handsomely rewarded African Americans. Hardly a league guilty of oppressing minorities.

Goodell promised to spend $250 million over 10 years to combat systemic racism. Put that $25m yearly stipend against the $8bn in annual revenue, that is a token 0.31% of that. So it’s hardly a sum relative to the self loathing video made. Still it makes for good headlines. Will the NFL subsidize Kaep out of that sum?

Will fans be subject to a ditching of the flag and an end to the national anthem at the game? Will it be replaced by a minute’s silence where law abiding, open minded and tolerant citizens of all races are required to watch propaganda on police brutality broadcast on big screens to martial music before kick-off?

What is worse is that Goodell skipped over the fact that his fans more than likely already condemned police brutality well before his forced confession reminiscent of an ISIS hostage video.

Is Goodell’s memory so short? Don’t fans just want to unwind from the stresses of family, work and politics by watching their team play a great game?

The NFL might feel encouraged that it’s viewership may have made a tepid recovery from the lows of 2017 but it shouldn’t test the loyalty of fans this way. They don’t pay good money to be lectured over things they already repudiate.

The Australian Wallabies rugby union team is another franchise which succumbed to pandering to identity politics over serving the needs of paying customers. Self-inflicted wound. It will take decades to recover, if ever.

The AFL and NRL should watch their step too. Overplay politics at games where fans go to escape it and they might find they walk away leaving them where they are now – cardboard cutouts in the stands and canned crowds. Don’t mistake any bump in ratings as anything other than a short term COVID19 induced boredom escaping aberration.

To think if the players hadn’t submitted to bondage in the first place, they would have no need to get on their knees of their own volition and beg their ultimate paymasters for mercy.

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