JUST LET THEM PLAY
It’s rare for football and brains to come up in the same sentence, but you can’t separate the two. What’s
Yet with Colin Kaepernick’s famous refusal to stand for the national anthem ahead of preseason games back in 2016, the expectation is increasingly that NFL players will bone up on much more than playbooks. They must have opinions... They must be activists. And it’s not just football. As this is being written, the Major League Baseball All- Star Game is being moved from Atlanta to Denver. Atlanta’s alleged offense was simply it being a city in Georgia, a state that had recently tightened up its voting rules in ways that will render them still more lax than those on the books in, for instance, New York and Delaware. Looking ahead to July 13, it’s a safe bet that the players skilled enough to earn a spot in the All-Star Game will face all manner of questions unrelated to baseball, but very much related to the politics behind the game’s movement to the Mile High City. And they better have the right, well-rehearsed, media- friendly answers. If not, watch out. The PC and “cancel” police will be out in full force. The question again is, why? Why should we expect professional baseball players to
happening out on NFL and (increasingly) collegiate fields is artistry born of freakish athletic skills combined with otherworldly knowledge about the game itself. Where it becomes really striking is when the quarterback position is considered. When asked about what it’s like to be quarterback, Super-Bowl-winning head coach Mike Holmgren likened learning the position to an English-speaking person learning Chinese... with a major twist. In Holmgren’s words... “Imagine trying to learn something as difficult as an entire system of plays, and taking the knowledge and making decisions on what to call and where to throw, all within split seconds, and doing it with people running at you trying to knock your ass off.” So what does the complicated nature of football have to do with politics? In an ideal world, as little as athletes would like it to... In a more rational world, the phone-book- sized memorization of plays required to merely get on a collegiate or NFL field would be enough to protect the players from expectations of partisanship. These individuals are being asked to fill their minds with so much information, all the while being in top shape, and all the while risking their bodies with each play, so let’s not burden them with politics and policy, too.
What’s happening out on NFL and (increasingly) collegiate fields is artistry born of freakish athletic skills combined with otherworldly knowledge about the game itself. Where it becomes really striking is when the quarterback position is considered.
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