At the beginning of the football season when Colin Kaepernick began his national anthem protest, I said that I defended his right to protest even though I would have chosen some other way to do so. Even when other players in various sports chose to join him in those protests, I said that there needed to be some products of these protests over and above the act of taking a knee during the national anthem; symbolism and “awareness” are fine but they do not effect change by themselves.
Well, yesterday there was a report at espn.com saying that things have moved to the next level. It seems that Lions’ WR, Anquan Boldin, has worked quietly behind the scenes to arrange for 5 NFL players (including Boldin of course) to go to Washington DC for meetings with members of Congress – possibly to include Speaker Paul Ryan – and perhaps members of the White House Staff. All of this happened yesterday while news focus was elsewhere but ESPN reported that the topics of discussion were police/community relations and the level of mistrust that exists between the African-American community and the police in those communities.
I want to say congratulations to Anquan Boldin and to the folks mentioned in that report who helped arrange these meetings/discussions. This is a logical next step in the protest landscape for this issue; there is more potential for constructive action to come from that sort of activity than there is for taking knee during the anthem. Lawmakers at the national level are not going to resolve these issues; these are far more local problems than national ones. Nevertheless, these national lawmakers have the stature and the ties to various local authorities and to various local community leaders to arrange for focused actions to ease tensions and anxieties on both sides. What Anquan Boldin and these other 4 players accomplished was to take the protest and the issues beneath the protest from the sidelines of a football game and to put the issues before a set of folks who might – if they choose to act on the issues – begin to make things better.
Let me suggest here – and I admit this is easy for a commentator to do so long as the commentator does not have to do the dirty work – that another important step in the potential resolution of these issues will be to have people with community recognition and leadership to take these issues to the police departments in cities where there are significant tensions. Ultimately, that is the venue for resolution of these tensions and anxieties but it is the existence of those tensions and anxieties that demands a diplomat/mediator to act to bring the parties together and to get a process of resolution started. What happened yesterday is an important step even though it is not the final step. Perhaps, yesterday was the time when people moved from “raising awareness” to “getting people with the power to do something to do something”.
Recently, there was a report in the Triangle Business Journal that said that the Hula Bowl will be relocating to Raleigh, NC starting in 2018. I don’t know about you, but when I think of Raleigh, it takes me a while to fire enough synapses to get the image of “hula” in my brain. Nevertheless…
The Hula Bowl is one of those college All-Star games that used to populate the calendar in December and January in the days when there were not about 2 dozen abjectly meaningless bowl games on the schedule. The Hula Bowl has been dormant since 2008; it was nominally a casualty of the “Great Recession”; in actuality, the game had seen declining interest and attendance for several years prior to 2008. To be sure, the financial woes in that year kicked the snowball over the cliff, but that snowball had been on the perch for a while by then.
The report linked above paints the picture of a rosy future for the Hula Bowl in Raleigh. Time will tell if there is room enough for yet one more concocted college football game in the sports landscape. Let me just say that I will not be considering investing my IRA funds in this venture…
I made a note that it was on 7 November 2015 when CBSSports.com published its first column on “Bracketology” for the 2015/16 college basketball season. Prior to the playing of even a minute of actual intercollegiate basketball for the season, this sort of exposition represents a projection of how the men’s basketball tournament brackets will set up in the second week of March 2017. Were the Bard of Baltimore – H. L. Mencken – still alive today, I am sure he would label that sort of speculation as:
I am a staunch supporter of the First Amendment; nevertheless, I would support any law or any action that would ban that sort of nonsense from the Internet or the airwaves prior to March 1 of the college basketball season. [Aside: I would similarly support a law or action that would ban Mock Drafts from the Internet or the airwaves until 2 weeks before the NFL Draft is scheduled.] Bracketology articles – and Mock Drafts too – are space fillers and nothing more. If I were to venture out into the orbit of political commentary and I were to produce for you my list of the candidates in the Presidential primaries for the election in 2028, you would be in a position to – quite properly – tell me to remove my head from my ass and to do something productive with my time and effort. Each time you see an article headlined as Bracketology, just substitute “Presidential primaries 12 years hence” and then decide how eager you are to read on.
Finally, after the Eagles cut WR. Josh Huff after Huff’s arrest on a variety of charges, Scott Ostler had some advice for Huff in the SF Chronicle:
“The Eagles cut wide receiver Josh Huff after he was stopped by New Jersey police, who say Huff was speeding, drunk, carrying marijuana, driving with illegally tinted windows and packing a handgun with no permit, loaded with illegal hollow-point bullets.
“But his tires were properly inflated.
“Huff faces a marketing challenge. He says, ‘I have to do what’s best to rebrand my image.’ Like, work on being a model prisoner?”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………