Sunday, June 10, 2018

Megan McArdle will always stick up for the Overdog.

A defense of Roger Goodell

Because you know who really needs defending? A guy who makes $31 million dollars a year doing. . . nobody really knows what exactly he does, but he's sort of the president of football? Or something? Minly his job seems to be completely mis-handling the issues of domestic violence and player concussions. But you can always trust McArdle to stick up for the little guy!

Whatever you think of Roger Goodell, commissioner of the National Football League, you should recognize that he’s trying to solve a genuinely hard problem.

No, he isn't. It's only hard because he's making it hard. Easy solutions could be: let the players express their views as they see fit, or stop demanding shows of patriotism before sports games. It's a god dman football game, why is everyone expected to show their respect to the flag beforehand? It's not a swearing-in ceremony or a celebration for new citizens or something. It's a game.

. . . he’s trying to solve a genuinely hard problem. Or rather two problems. On one hand, he’s trying to maximize the audience for NFL games. At the same time, he’s also trying to negotiate the same fraught racial politics that our nation has been struggling with for centuries, but in miniature, and in prime time.

 Um, if you want to maximize the audience for NFL games, make the games better. Maybe don't spend twenty minutes arguing the finer technicalities of what does and doesn't constitute a catch? Or maybe don't have so many damn games on each week that you need to trot out annoyances like Jon Gruden or Phil Simms as front-line commentators?

And no one has asked Roger freakin Goodell to solve the problem of racism is this country. All he needs to do is nothing. Just stay out of it, let the players express their views or not express them as they see fit, and let fans react however they like. If they really like football, they aren't going to stop watching because of what happens during the national anthem. Hey, here's an idea - just don't televise the anthem! There, solved it. 31 million dollars, please!

Nearly 70 percent of NFL players are black. Why wouldn’t those players want to use their privileged position to highlight one of the most pressing problems facing their community today?

What? Megan, are you okay? Do you have a fever?
Something is clearly not normal with you if you are acknowledging the fact that the players actually have a legitimate beef. What's next? Acknowledging that racism exists?

But the last time the Nielsen Year in Sports report broke down the numbers, in 2013, football’s viewership was 15 percent black but 77 percent white. Only 35 percent of whites are sympathetic to the Black Lives Matter movement, which seems a reasonable proxy for their sympathy for the kind of in-your-face protest that refusing to stand for the national anthem represents.

Wow! That was a quick recovery. There's the old Megan McArdle we all know and loathe!
Look, your people may be getting gunned down on the streets for no reason, but have you ever considered that maybe white people don't want to hear about it? And if people are not sympathetic to your cause, you certainly shouldn't demonstrate to try to call attention to the injustice. You should only protest things that the majority already agrees with you about. That way you don't make people uncomfortable, and isn't that what free speech is really all about?

Let’s be clear: Whites should be more sympathetic to the problem of racial inequities in the criminal justice system. If cops treated whites the way they treat blacks, white people would not be arguing that crime is a real problem, and that profiling is just statistics; they’d be frantically calling their legislators and muttering about the Second Amendment.

Um, first of all, racist white people spent the last 8 years muttering, shouting and screaming about the Second Amendment. This is now the normal reaction for white people when they don't get what they want. Let's don't act as though this is somehting that could theoretically happen if white folks were treated as badly as black folks are by police. This happens when white folks don't like the outcome of an election.

Second amendment remedies Google Search




But few human beings of any color are as keenly alive to the suffering of others as they are to their own travails. So however desirable, it seems unlikely that white America en masse will suddenly muster towering outrage about a problem that doesn’t much affect them. Not even if they see athletes protesting it on national television.

So really, there's no point in even trying. If a problem doesn't directly affect a person, you really can't expect that person to give a shit. I mean, what is he supposed to do, care about a person that is not him? I mean, the very idea is laughable! I mean, if I don't personally have cancer, why would I ever donate to cancer research? What's in it for me? And when I see the commercials on TV about the starving children, well I just run toi my fridge and make sure there's food in it. As long as there is, I certainly have no reason to worry about hunger! Especially hunger in some far-off country that doesn't even threaten to affect me.

Which leaves Goodell with a problem. Some sizable fraction of his audience views American criminal justice overreach as less worrying than disruptive protests of same.

And those people must always be humored. Their feelings must always be taken into consideration, and no one must ever intimate that maybe those people are. . . wrong? A little?

Ku Klux Klan rally

And, by the way, what you call "criminal justice overreach," the rest of us call unarmed citizens being shot dead for no good reason. Or, more succinctly, murder.
Is it "overreach" to shoot a 12-year-old kid dead for playing with a bb gun? Is ti "overreach" to strangle a man to death for possibly maybe having sold loose cigarettes? Do you think "overreach" is an adequate description of an unarmed man being shot in the back for the crime of selling CDs?

Also, if your business is dependant on keeping happy the kind of people who are more offended by kneeling athletes than by innocent people being murdered by police, maybe it just isn't worth having that business. Or maybe you could just say "we'd rather make a couple million fewer bucks a year than cater to that kind of scumbag." You'd still be highly profitable, even if every one who was actually that bothered by peaceful protest decided to tune out or stop buying tickets, and it would probably be a bit easier to sleep at night.

They get very angry when football players hijack their leisure viewing to deliver an unwelcome political message.

They're fine having the Blue Angels fly over games. They're fine with military color guards presenting the stars n stripes. They're fine with salutes to returning troops before sporting events. But if they see a single god damn opposing view. . . well it's just too much to ask of these fragile flowers. How are they to enjoy 3 hours of crippling collisions if they know that some of the players are unhappy that guys who look like them are routinely targeted by law enforcement?

And even some who believe that police brutality is a large problem are made uneasy when protesting it involves refusing to honor a symbol of American national unity.

Is it? Is that what the flag symbolizes? National unity? I have to think that the flag symbolizes different things to different people. If you're Native American, for instance, it might symbolize the people who murdered your ancestors. If you're a black person, it might symbolize the people who enslaved yours. I don't know, it just seems like you're declaring it to be a symbol of a certain thing and then just assuming that's how everyone else sees it too.

Look, I'm a white guy. I'm the guy whose ancestors would probably have nothing bad to say about the US (except maybe the ones who were still in Germany during World War One.)  And you know what makes ME uncomfortable? Flag-waving patriotism. Demands that people "honor the flag." the worship of the "troops." That sort of thing has always made me uncomfortable. I don't like the fact that they sing the National Anthem at ballgames, and I certainly don't like the fact that everyone is expected to stand respectfully, had over heart, hat in hand, gazing solemnly at Old Glory before we can watch the game. But I suck it up and I buy tickets the one weekend the Giants come to town each year because I like baseball, and by the time the first pitch is thrown, I've forgotten all about my discomfort. If I can power through it, so can the assholes who are so terribly bothered by athletes kneeling.

And you know what else? I'm really sick of this whole "of course people have the right to protest, but not like that!" bullshit. Like, you certainly have the right to express your opinion, but not in a way that could possibly make any middle-class white people uncomfortable. You can certainly speak out against injustice, but not if you're going to inconvenience anyone.

Meanwhile NFL viewership is down 17 percent since 2015. Attendance and public perception about the NFL are also hurting.

Hmmm. I don't suppose that could have anything to do with the growing understanding that football players are suffering brain damage with every hit, every block, every tackle that is leading to early-onset dementia and suicides? It can't be that that is making it a bit harder to enjoy watching the games.
It couldn't be that the NFL is just completely over-exposed, with two games each Sunday afternoon, a Sunday night game, a Monday night game and a game every Thursday night. (And Saturday games once the college football season ends).
It couldn't be that expansion has watered down the talent pool.
It couldn't be because video games have gotten so good, so realistic, and so affordable that many younger people would rather play Madden 18 than passively watch a game.
No, it must be the fact that for about 60 seconds before each game, a few players kneel, showing less than the required amount of reverence for a nation in which they will always be treated as less than equal. That has to be it!

There’s a robust debate over whether the protests are contributing to the decline, but we’ll sidestep that, since I know little about the sport, and the opinions of people who do know something largely seem to be conveniently correlated with their opinions about the protesting players.

Oh for God's sake.
You've been writing this whole column and NOW you bring up the fact that you know nothing about the subject matter?

Suffice it to say that football is facing a lot of problems, all at once. Cord-cutters. A glut of football games that makes them less rare and special, and therefore, one less thing that millions of Americans still watch together. A CTE crisis that is cutting into youth play (and eventually into future viewership) and makes many adults queasy about watching healthy young men systematically destroy each other’s brains.
The decline of football may simply be inevitable. But even so, it’s probably a bit much to expect an NFL commissioner to say “I guess we’re doomed” and seek meaning in the impending death by sending the league on a suicide charge against racial inequality.

Wait, what?

Not penalizing players for expressing their views on racial inequality is, how did you put it - "sending the league on a suicide charge against racial inequality?"

What would you have said to Branch Rickey? "Sure, it would be the 'right thing' to do to call up Jackie Robinson to the the Dodgers, but do you really think it's a good idea to go on a suicide mission against racism? Because, as we all know, challenging racism is a pretty quick way to find your sport tossed aside onto the dustbin of history."

The solution that the league’s owners actually chose was the kind of mushy compromise America used to specialize in, designed to please no one but satisfy everyone.


Nope. That's not a thing.
There is no compromise that pleases no one but satisfies everyone. That's just a figment of centrist mythology that absolutely does not exist in the real world.

So what is this "mushy compromise" that you think should be satisfactory to everyone?

Teams will be fined if their players kneel during the anthem, but players are allowed to stay in the locker room if they don’t want to stand.

bob's burgers bobs burgers gif

That's it? That's the compromise? You are not allowed to silently, peacefully protest where anyone can see you, but if you really want to, you can just stay out of sight where no one has to see you so that there will be no chance that anyone accidentally has any sort of a thought about your message! THIS is what you think should satisfy everyone?

It won't.

Why in the hell would you think that the players should be satisfied with that? What do they get out of it? This would only make sense to someone who was stupid enough to think that the players were protesting the song, and no one is that stu. . .oh, right. Sorry, Megan. But seriously, this has no chance of being acceptable to the players, and if you think the anthem hawks are going to be okay with this, if you think they aren't going to keep track of which players stayed in the locker room, if you think for one second that these "flag hags" (h/t Simpsons) are going to pass up an opportunity to take umbrage at rich black men who aren't behaving in a way pleasing to them, you obviously don't know your own readership.

Except the America where that type of agreement once worked no longer seems to exist;

I, for one, have to think thatr's a positive development.
I, for one, have to think that it's a good thing that people are no longer willing to compromise on people's rights. You know, during the civil rights era, it was a common theme for well-intentioned liberals - "go slow." You can't expect to have ALL your rights at once. Baby steps! Eventually, maybe your children or your grandchildren will have the full rights of citizenship, these things can't be rushed, you'll make people uncomfortable!

Nina Simone wrote a song about it.

Don't tell me
I tell you
Me and my people just about due
I've been there so I know
They keep on saying 'Go slow!'
But that's just the trouble
'Do it slow'
Washing the windows
'Do it slow'
Picking the cotton
'Do it slow'
You're just plain rotten
'Do it slow'
You're too damn lazy
'Do it slow'
The thinking's crazy
'Do it slow'
Where am I going
What am I doing
I don't know
I don't know

But I know. You're going to insist on being on the wrong side of history. And you want to take the NFL with you. Fine. Good luck with all that.