The San Francisco 49ers' second (or third or fourth) string quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, recently created an uproar by refusing to stand for the National Anthem during several recent pre-season football games. In Kaepernick's own words:
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."
Most subsequent commentary focused on the merits of the issues Kaepernick raised. However, that discussion misses a bigger problem. What if each person at the football stadium were to protest his or her pet grievance by not standing for the National Anthem? Wouldn't everyone end up sitting?
With his single silly gesture, Kaepernick changed the purpose of professional football from delivering entertainment to delivering protests. Many of the billions of dollars spent to craft the strong brand known as the NFL have evaporated courtesy of this fool.
To be sure, the NFL brought this upon itself by wading into the quagmire of radical social issues with thoughtless pandering to racists (remember Super Bowl halftime?), feminists, gender extremists, and other assorted crazies. By so doing, it created the opportunity for Kaepernick but also set itself on a glide path to irrelevancy, as sponsors have undoubtedly taken horrified notice.
A fitting reminder to this sad tale is Shakespeare's astute observation that "all the world's a stage"...and on the stage of professional sports, the NFL is now playing the clown.