More than ever, our current social climate is proving that stories are the most powerful form of communication. Stories allow people to feel the emotion, and gravity, of certain situations. Stories are so powerful that they can convince people to ignore facts and statistics when they don’t fit a particular narrative.
So it is no wonder that stories are under attack right now. And two stories in particular: Those of the NFL and America.
Why is this the case? According to a recent column by Outkick.com’s Jason Whitlock (pictured), it is because neither one of them fit a particularly “woke” agenda.
Why does the NFL matter on a similar level as America? Although the NFL does not have the same innate values that America was founded on, Whitlock points out,
Social media wants you to believe America and all of its institutions are irrevocably ruled by systemic racism. It’s not true.
The NFL, the most powerful force in American popular culture, the top TV show on five different networks, is proof of America’s bend toward equality and proof of the level of willful ignorance and intentional deceit used to smear America.
He continues by discussing how there are two narratives that people can easily cling to when looking at the sports world and the NFL.
The first is Kaepernick’s. A well-documented one, which claims that both America and the institution of the NFL is defined by slavery and oppression (New York Times’s 1619 Project). This mentality is built on the proposition that America’s people is what makes her special.
The second is what Whitlock proposes. This is an America that is rooted in her founding documents. It is a mentality that is built on the proposition that America’s values are what make her special.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick “Mahomes, like Kaepernick, is mixed race,” says Whitlock.
He’s now the richest player in NFL history. He surpassed Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, who is black. The next quarterbacks most likely to benefit from the contract Mahomes just signed are Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson and Dak Prescott. They’re all black.
But the NFL is systemically racist?
Stop it. Rather than vilifying the game of football because Kaepernick flamed out and wrapped himself in racial martyrdom to excuse his failure, we should be celebrating football for its evolution.
Both the NFL and America have evolved over the course of history. And that is America's defining trait. We all strive to live up to America’s original values. Sometimes we fail. Sometimes we succeed. Both are evidenced throughout history. But neither one makes those values any less unique or good.
Unfortunately, that is not the message that Disney is ready to sell to the American public.
In a deal signed earlier this week, ESPN is partnering with Colin Kaepernick to create a docuseries about his life. In addition to a crew of executive producers provided by ESPN, Kaepernick recruited Jemele Hill to produce as well.
All of this in spite of the fact that ESPN’s President, Jimmy Pitaro, had stated that “fans do not want us to cover politics,” a model which, when followed, had led to a rebound in ratings since a massive decline in 2016/17.
With a seemingly new shift in both coverage decisions and a new lineup of personality hirings/firings, ESPN seems to be doubling-down on Kaepernick’s vision of America (a historically poor decision, based on the data).