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Evan Macy: Football should not offer escape from politics

As protests continue, football and politics are colliding like never before.
By Christian Radnedge

On Sunday afternoon, the protests continued.

And across the country, millions of NFL fans complained that they just want their football back.

On both sides of the political spectrum, football fanatics aren't eager to take a dose of politics with their weekly football fix — and it's understandable why. Sports are an escape. They are a distraction. They are, in reality, a slice of American culture and everything the flag and National Anthem stand for.​

“I think our players understand our fans don’t want to go to a game and watch a protest," Steelers President Art Rooney II said this week. "And I think our players prefer to just go out on the field and play football.”

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Sorry Mr. Rooney, but Americans today don't deserve to have an escape.

Donald Trump, as he has done since his scandal-ridden administration began, is hurling racially driven distractions and for once it is a good thing.

The flag that is in the background during demonstrations across the country — which stands for the cradle of freedom and democracy — also flew over a divided nation struggling with slavery. It flew over a nation that decided to displace and eventually exterminate an entire race of Native Americans. It flew over a nation that created Jim Crow and ridiculed anyone who didn't have power. It flies today.

The NFL is a fundamental part of America in the 21st century, and is not immune to the incredible unrest bellowing from every crack and crevasse in this country. And that's precisely why Colin Kaepernick took a knee last fall — can't get an NFL job, and dozens of other players like Malcolm Jenkins and Michael Bennett demonstrated in his stead this year.

NFL players, the ones being criticized for being too affluent to have any interest in standing up for the poor and the prejudiced are making sacrifices just like any other American. They pay more taxes than you, and have a livelihood at risk by demonstrating.

A true democracy talks to itself. It informs itself and challenges itself.

So no, you cannot have your NFL free from any ties to reality. Just like baseball fans in the 40s didn't want to watch an African American play America's past time. The NFL is America. And this is what America looks like.

 
 
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