PART OF THE PROBLEM
Last night I angrily wrote out a Facebook post in a notepad app on my phone. I had my husband read it. He said I should go ahead and post it. But just before hitting send, I backed out of it. I wanted time to let my feelings settle down a little. I wanted time to think it through more, and then I wanted a bigger forum to write.
Yesterday, I got to do something I’d never done before: I went to an NFL game. Little did I know, my going was apparently making me “part of the problem” in the eyes of many friends… or so they declared in blanket status updates on Facebook last night. I’ll explain shortly.
Care to know how I went to the game? I bought tickets from a fundraiser for a kids organization. I went because I supported some kids. I hope that sinks in just a little bit.
And let me tell you, I was SO EXCITED to go… like a kid myself. Going to an NFL game wasn’t even on my bucket list. Something I’d probably never actually do. Because I’ve never been one to spend money on NFL games. Give me college ball all day long played with heart and school pride on the line.
But the excitement to see a pro game was real.
On top of it, my husband was actually home this weekend. Do you realize how rare it is for us to get to do things like this!? He’s on the road more than at home! The day’s adventure meant so much to us. My husband even declined a drive so we could do this one time. The day was about having a fun day together.
The night before we dug out our old Eddie George jerseys that had long been in storage… they smelled musty and were heavily wrinkled. So I stayed up to make sure they got washed and dried for the game.
We tailgated with friends before the game, and by the time we got into the gates I had a permasmile going that not even realizing our seats were the second to top row could take away. I found myself chatting up a few Seahawks fans, welcoming them to Nashville. The gentlemen next to me was there with his grandson, joking that he agreed to go not knowing where their seats were. I declared him the coolest grandpa ever being such a good sport about it all.
We soaked in the adventure. I kept declaring how amazed I was to even be there, and I was determined to enjoy every single second, knowing the chances of my ever going to another game are quite slim. We were blissfully unaware of the fact that the teams had not been on the field for the anthem. Nor did we know the anthem singer had taken a knee after her performance. (We heard her sing, but we weren’t in a position to actually see the field.)
In that moment, I didn’t really care. I cared about the fact that we shared a table for a quick bite with two Seahawks fans who are veterans who still live in Clarksville, TN. I cared that my area was full of young kids enjoying a day with their families. I cared that I got to make some awesome memories with my husband.
There is so much about all of this player/anthem controversy on every side that I find myself deeply pondering all the angles. And it makes my head hurt. Because, frankly, my head and my heart aren’t matching up here.
My head is saying we all have the beautiful and wonderful right to freedom of speech, and even if I don’t agree with someone’s message I am so glad we live in a country where we can say what we believe without legal consequences. And I often find myself mulling over the question — if you have something to say and are blessed to be in a position to make your voice heard, wouldn’t it be wrong to NOT speak up? Whatever your belief may be?
However, my heart is intensely proud of country, and it is screaming that players should stand for the anthem. My heart believes there is a time and a place for your voice to be heard, and just because you have the platform doesn’t mean its the right time to speak up. Could you actually hurt your cause in that moment? My heart feels like sports and concerts are places people go to escape “real life” for awhile, and by bringing politics into that stage you’ve taken away people’s reprieve… and many will, logically, stop showing up.
What really hurts, though, is seeing the divide this has created. If you choose to cancel your season tickets and turn off Sunday Ticket or the NFL network, then I say, “RIGHT ON!” I’ve always been taught that to make your message heard loudest, you should stop financially supporting things with which you disagree (and in counterpoint, financially support those things you get behind). But please, please, please stop pointing fingers and declaring anyone who doesn’t follow your lead to be, “part of the problem.” Talk to each other. Understand each other.
I sat at home last night, and I found myself letting people’s words get to me. I had such an amazing day, and through the angry words on Facebook I felt that joy slipping away. “If you even so much as watch an NFL game you are part of the problem!” one post read. I’m part of the problem? Because I attended a game on a ticket I purchased as a fundraiser for kids? Does that mean all those vets who were at the game yesterday are part of the problem, too? You know, the ones who actually served to protect our nation?
Well. If I am part of the problem, then so be it. I am not going to apologize for going to the game yesterday. I support your right to boycott the games and make your opinion heard. I also support my right to just have a good time.