#PleaseStand, Or Don’t!

An entire season of the “scandal” plagued National Football League has finally come to an end, save for the omega game, Super Bowl LII. As you may recall, the 2017 season was surrounded by controversy that started in the pre-season and blossomed its ugly head for the better part of the rest of the season. Players took a knee, sat, raised fists and/or linked arms during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner.

President Trump took up the issue on Twitter several times, first condemning the actions, then praising coaches and owners who made policies to support standing during the national anthem.

All the controversy caused NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to respond several times to the issue. Goodell largely stood behind the players and silently supported their protests. He did finally address it with a letter to the NFL owners and teams, but strayed from taking any sort of a stance on the issue.

ESPN obtained following letter that Roger Goodell sent to NFL teams within past 30 minutes: To: Chief Executives/ Club…

Posted by Adam Schefter on Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The media had a hay day with the protests and covered the pre-game festivities more than they covered actual in-game highlights. The hype finally died down and nary a word was heard about it for almost all of the playoffs in January… but that all would soon change.

NBC will be broadcasting Super Bowl LII this year and on January 9th, NBC Super Bowl Executive Fred Gaudelli made it clear that they would be covering any pre-game protests that occur. The NFL has made no official statements regarding any potential protests in the big game, but their actions spoke louder than words with the most recent decision.

The organization “American Veterans” was invited to place an ad in the official Super Bowl LII program, but when the organization submitted their proposal, the NFL took a proverbial knee. See the ad for yourself:

The NFL largely turned their backs to the controversy all season, but now as a veterans organization wants to ask fans to stand up for their country and their veterans, the NFL rings the bell loud and clear. Brian McCarthy, NFL spokesman, said that the Super Bowl program has “never been a place for advertising that could be considered by some as a political statement.”

This statement is interesting because the NFL had a dress code and behavior policy that prohibited players from promoting or advertising one’s own personal views and opinions, but apparently protesting the national anthem isn’t included. These rules prohibited players like Tim Tebow from placing scripture verses on his eye black, but didn’t cover other expressions of speech such as taking a knee. Players are given hefty fines for using the wrong shoes, or writing on their shoes, but sitting during the Star-Spangled Banner is entirely fine.

It is unfortunate that politics and political statements have inserted itself in the middle of a game that so many love, no matter their race, religion, political viewpoints, etc. Football brought people together under one team; democrats joined with republicans to cheer on their teams, but sadly the comradery is at risk of falling apart as more players push a narrative that alienates many of their fans. In fact, over the past 2 years, NFL viewership has declined by several million views when compared to the previous year. Will Super Bowl Sunday bring back the lost viewers?

Because of the NBC statement, players know that they will be given a huge platform on February 4th. What will the players do while Pink sings the national anthem prior to Super Bowl LII? The NFL has already taken away a platform for the Veterans, so only time will tell. NBC stands to lose a good chunk of viewers if they politicize the game on Super Bowl Sunday.

Control The Culture, Control The Nation

If you haven’t heard about the controversy surrounding the NFL and the National Anthem, then you must be living under a rock. This weekend, all forms of media and social networking were flooded with articles and opinions surrounding comments that the President made about standing for the National Anthem.

The President’s remarks came at a rally in Huntsville, Alabama on Friday night, where he addressed the topic of some NFL player’s National Anthem protests. “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that *expletive* off the field right now. Out. He’s fired! He’s fired!'” This, of course, is in reference to the growing number of NFL players who have followed suit with QB Colin Kaepernick to kneel or sit during the National Anthem in protest of “police brutality and racial inequality.”

The President doubled down on his comments over the weekend and into this week with several tweets directed to certain teams, owners, and players who he feels disrespects the country, flag, and soldiers with their public protests during the National Anthem.

Ironically, the business mogul had this to say about the Office of the President meddling in the mascot issue of the Washington Redskins in 2013:

Everyone will have their own opinion on the President’s comments, but what I want to focus on here is more the reason behind the comments, rather than the content. Whether you agree or not, Donald Trump is a master at manipulating the media for his own accord and he has done it again here.

During his presidential campaign, then candidate Trump garnered more airtime devoted to himself by the media than any other candidate. While this was likely partially due to the mainstream media bias against him and for Hillary Clinton, he used it in his favor and fed the fire with comments and tweets that kept him front and center on the nightly news. The mainstream media’s dislike for President Trump actually plays into his hands and gets his name and message out to the public, veiled in a shroud of negative press.

Not only has the President gotten more press through these tactics, he has also controlled what the narrative is going to be. By bringing up the culture and controlling that discussion in the public realm, everyone has forgotten about the failed repeal of the Affordable Care Act. It went almost unnoticed that in the last 72 hours, 2 Republican Senators (Cruz and Collins) came out in opposition to the healthcare repeal bill.

This time last week, all you heard about was if another Senator dropped their support for the ACA repeal, then it would fail. Several Senators were in the spotlight, doing interviews left and right with media outlets about their wavering support for the GOP bill. On Friday, President Trump changed that conversation. For an entire weekend and well into this week, all you have heard about is kneeling, the National Anthem, and the NFL.

This isn’t the first time that this POTUS has done this and it certainly won’t be the last. Many people want to believe that these moves are another sign of the idiocy of the President, when in reality, those people are just another sheep, being herded along by the mainstream media’s selective flow of information. In all actuality, the President is controlling the national discourse to and from whatever he desires.

Anytime you see something that is being waved in your face over and over again, try to look past that obvious distraction and see what is behind it. In this case, the NFL distraction was waved in front of our faces for 5+ days when the media took the bait and ran with it. President Trump controlled the culture discussion and in turn, he controlled the nation.

President Trump isn’t the first POTUS to use this tactic and certainly won’t be the last, but he is an expert at sleight of hand.

Just as a magician uses subtle distractions to divert your attention away from a trick, the POTUS is masterfully diverting your attention from something else by controlling the culture discussion. If you can control the culture, you can control the nation.

Special thanks for my good friend JP on his suggestion for this post.

~Jason – Three Patriots