'Taking A Knee' Is Not The Same As Visiting a Children's Hospital

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On last week's Takeout Podcast on CBS, Major Garrett put a hypothetical question to Eric Winston {President of the NFL Players Association} regarding athletes taking a knee, etc.


[at 14:20] Mr. Garrett asked, “I've heard it said that there are some thought amongst fans, 'shut up and catch the ball; shut up dribble; shut up shoot the puck, whatever; just play the game. Spare me your political attitudes or poses', where do you come down on that?”


Mr. Winston answered:
“Right, so, should we spare you the money we're raising in our communities; to better the communities? Should we spare all the philanthropic things that we've done? The visits to hospitals? The things outside of the game that we've done? Everybody cheers those. Everybody actually got to a point where they expect us to do those. And frankly, I expect all my guys to go out there and make a difference in the community not because you have to, because you want to. Because you have this platform now to make your world a better place. And then for us to say, 'well you can do all that good stuff but because I consider this not good, you can't do that'.”


Here's why I think he's wrong on this. For one, he's conflating the apolitical with the political. Two, he's equating acts of giving with superficial gestures. Three, he's comparing something almost universally regarded as unoffensive & demonstrably positive or helpful in some way to something viewed by many as offensive, divisive & negative or unhelpful.


If police & criminal justice reforms are issues he personally supports, I can appreciate why he would then be eager to justify whatever method these players choose to bring attention to it. However, I wonder would he feel the same if a bunch of football players were 'taking a knee' to protest abortion being legal in this country? Or same-sex marriage? Or a major gun control law? I highly doubt it.


This would suggest the righteousness of 'taking a knee' really depends upon the cause, in which case, for a league to allow the gesture isn't so much about upholding free expression as it is supporting the presumably right side of a political/social issue.


Personally, I don't really care much what celebrities think about social issues because their opinions are no more important & generally no more informed than anyone else's. Since I loathe sports I care even less what athletes think about them, but I have no problem with them expressing their views. They are members of society with feelings, beliefs & concerns just like anyone else and in the case of police & criminal justice reforms, I personally support the issues.


I do, however, take issue with people expressing their views in a way that I think is disrespectful to the country, the flag, or the national anthem. In my view it's not productive, not persuasive, it's divisive & not even necessary. These players already have a prominent platform, they don't need to resort to these kind of tactics to bring awareness to issues. Burning the flag would get enormous amounts of attention, but it isn't going to win very many hearts & minds. And shouldn't that be the goal here?


Frankly, I'd like to see a lot less of these displays of jingoism before every public event, but it is what it is & not likely to stop anytime soon. Do these players have a right to 'take a knee' during the anthem? Maybe they should have that latitude. That's up to the discretion of the league. But others certainly have a right to criticize them for it and to take their time & money elsewhere. Furthermore, doing so is not inherently racist, it can and I suspect usually is motivated by a genuine sense of decorum & patriotism.


As for the President, there is a way to show disapproval without being bellicose and I think that's how leaders, most especially a President should behave. Unfortunately, this one continually fails at this which makes the issue even more emotionally charged & divisive than it need be.


Cullen Kehoe Added Dec 2, 2018 - 2:44am
If you get into the ring with respect to politics, then accept the consequences. That's what I'd say. People can exercise their right to turn off the television. 
The Burghal Hidage Added Dec 2, 2018 - 5:14am
and they are
John Minehan Added Dec 2, 2018 - 9:04am
Football (Professional or college) is an advertising medium almost as much as it is a sport.
The NFL supports Breast Cancer Awareness Month by having the players wear pink shoe laces, for example.  Some unit in the Global War on Terrorism gets in a major fight and the next week the USMA Black Knights are wearing that unit's insignia on their jerseys.
As issues with police use of force become prevalent, why would that not lead to expression?
Obviously, this is not team and league authorized, like the pink shoelaces,  and could lead to discipline or even termination.  However, why is there any surprise the conduct exists?  
Ryan Messano Added Dec 2, 2018 - 11:45am
A black man is 16 times more likely to attack a police officer than to be shot by one. According to a Harvard study by African American professor Roland Fryer, White police officers are more likely to shoot white suspects than black suspects.
And the 2010 Obama DOJ tells us that whites that year committed 64,000 instances of violence against blacks, and blacks committed 320,000 instances of violence against whites, but that isn’t the whole story.
Whites made up 197 million Americans and blacks 38 millions, so when population is factored in, black on white violence is 25 times higher than white on black violence.
When one views the numbers, if the NFL players know math, a questionable assumption, they ought to be taking a knee for all the white victims of black violence.
Jeff Michka Added Dec 2, 2018 - 1:59pm
Where is TraitorLynn?  He hate the NFL players taking a knee, has gone on and on about "those people" not "respecting the flag or national anthem," yet TraitorLynn wants the US torn up in a civil war to support his Extreme rightist politics, but can't admit/see his hypocrisy, just smugly goes on and on, nobody but I calling him out, and of course, that makes me "a troll."  Hmmm.  makes him a hopeless hypocrite.  I would rater be a troll, but then hypocrite "TraitorLynn" would rather be a hypocrite,  he is, after all a rightist.
Fmontyr Added Dec 2, 2018 - 4:46pm
Ryan Messano - you are wrong.
"A black man is 16 times more likely to attack a police officer than to be shot by one. According to a Harvard study by African American professor Roland Fryer, White police officers are more likely to shoot white suspects than black suspects."

Your numbers are the opposite of reality.  If you know so much about the above study then surely you can provide some documentation.  Not expecting to see any references or citations to literature, I will say your post was good for a laugh.
Dino Manalis Added Dec 2, 2018 - 4:57pm
 Not respecting our flag sends the wrong message, they have to express themselves more intelligently.
John Minehan Added Dec 2, 2018 - 5:05pm
Fryer, Roland G. Jr. (July 2016). "An Empirical Analysis of Racial Differences in Police Use of Force". NBER Working Paper No. 22399. doi:rel="nofollow">10.3386/w22399.
John Minehan Added Dec 2, 2018 - 5:11pm
"On non-lethal uses of force, blacks and Hispanics are more than fifty percent more likely to experience some form of force in interactions with police. Adding controls that account for important context and civilian behavior reduces, but cannot fully explain, these disparities. On the most extreme use of force – officer involved shootings – we find no racial differences in either the raw data or when contextual facttors are taken into account. We argue that the patterns in the data are consistent with a model in which police officers are utility maximizers, a fraction of which have a preference for discrimination, who incur relatively high expected costs of officer-involved shootings."  Id (emphasis added)
Fmontyr Added Dec 2, 2018 - 6:46pm
"Contradicting every single bit of empirical research, Fryer’s 2016 research paper claimed to find no racial bias in police shootings. Even though it was not peer-reviewed, relied on biased police reporting and has been target="_blank" rel="noopener">roundly discredited, it is still quoted anytime police shoot a black man in the face."
"Another one of Fryer’s standout works proving that racism is a myth was a paper that showed target="_blank" rel="noopener">white people don’t actually discriminate against black-sounding names, which, again, contradicts all the other available research."
Jeff Michka Added Dec 2, 2018 - 6:54pm
You tell 'em Dino.  Get some platitudes together that support all these laws about how black people, out in broad daylight or without police escort, are out only to commit crimes against "good white people," so should be shot dead. 
Ryan Messano Added Dec 2, 2018 - 8:47pm
Thank you, John, poor FMontyr is brainwashed.  No sooner does he see Fryers report than he runs to Google for a cure for his cognitive dissonance, and he finds the leftist source, The Root, for comfort.
Peer review = fallible men reviewing fallible men, and coming to infallible results.
Also, saying the Report is ‘roundly discredited’ is an appeal to popular logical fallacy, I’m afraid.
TexasLynn Added Dec 2, 2018 - 9:20pm
Is it just me, or did the question and the answer seem staged?
I've written on this subject and my stance is still the same... let the free market work it out.
The players have a right to protest any way they want on their own time.  They have every right to protest while representing the NFL (and their teams) as long as the NFL and team owners agree to allow it (thus sharing in the consequences).
The fans have every right to punish (the NFL, the teams and the players) for speech they dislike (thus exercising their own freedom of speech).  This is done by not going to games, not watching games, and/or not buying merchandise.
To the players (and teams, and NFL), I say... do what you want... just don't whine about the consequences.  You're not entitled to patronage, nor are you entitled to the legal protections of your monopoly.  Just so you know what is at stake here.
Flying Junior Added Dec 3, 2018 - 12:18am
I appreciated the comment by Mr. Winston.  Thank you for that.  As far as being spared, whiny fake fans can spare us all their unneeded opinions.  In fact you could have spared us all this superfluous rant.  Shut up and dribble?  Shut up and watch TV, fathead.
What is so disruptive about taking a knee?  The political rub is that Trump and the hardcore right disagree with the players on the stance that they take.  There is nothing inherently offensive about taking a knee.  I mean, everybody knows the history.  We don't have to go back to square one with Colin Kaepernick and his friend the veteran.  Get my meaning?  They are offended by the implied reference to Black Lives Matter, right?  Am I close?  That's all it is.  It is a cheap trick on stupid people.
As far as criticizing the president...  Nobody ever said that they were taking a knee to piss off the monster.  It was the vile demon himself who chose to make it an issue.  He saw it as a political win.  He is good at what he does.  He sees a weakness in the fabric of our society and he exploits it to gin up hatred.  He is the master.  No one has ever done it better.  Hats off to the new Mussolini.

Flying Junior Added Dec 3, 2018 - 12:19am
BTW, I'm not calling you a fathead.  You didn't say, "Shut up and dribble."
Jeffry Gilbert Added Dec 3, 2018 - 2:20am
I do, however, take issue with people expressing their views in a way that I think is disrespectful to the country, the flag, or the national anthem. 
Operative statement: in a way that I think.... 
You have the mistaken impression that what you think has any value beyond yourself.
It does not. 
What you're not getting is it something to get people at each other's throats while the powers that be are busting another one off in your backsides. 
Ken Added Dec 3, 2018 - 2:25am
One thing of note is that while there are many that genuinely wish to help communities and do a bunch of altruistic things (not NFL, but Shaq is a perfect example of this), but it is part of the contractual agreement that each player will do certain "community service".  Many of which would likely not do this if not contractually obligated.
Dak Prescott said it best - (paraphrasing) "stop kneeling and take action in your communities.  If you truly feel there is an issue in what is going on, take action in the community, don't just make some meaningless symbolic gesture that offends most people"
James Added Dec 3, 2018 - 8:30am
To all: thanks for reading and for the comments and for most of you keeping it on point & respectful. Hostility isn't necessary.
@Cullen Kehoe & The Burghal Hidage
As they say, vote with your feet and/or your wallet. Money usually drives policy, which I think is mostly what motivated a lot of the crackdown from the NFL.
@John Minehan
Of course, other than a bit off-putting to the eye perhaps, pink shoe laces aren't offensive. Nor is it taking a political or social side. Well, other than against cancer, of course. A decidedly neutral cause. On two fronts I don't think it's a fair comparison to 'taking a knee' during the national anthem to protest police misconduct.
“Some unit in the Global War on Terrorism gets in a major fight and the next week the USMA Black Knights are wearing that unit's insignia on their jerseys.” ~ John Minehan
Interesting. I see they are an independent conference. I'm not sure how much differently rules apply to them. Would insignia's be allowed for other teams? I wouldn't know, but I am aware there are some very strict uniform rules. Again, though it could be offensive to some taking it as an endorsement of foreign policy, I don't think it's a fair comparison because, like the shoelaces, an insignia is a fairly innocuous gesture. Showing contempt or diminished respect during the national anthem to make a statement isn't. Clearly it has been highly divisive.
In my view, no, there shouldn't be any surprise at concern or activism over police misconduct. I think it's a serious problem {which transcends racial lines, BTW} that desperately needs to be addressed. My issue here is entirely in how they are expressing it.
@Mogg Tsur
Thank you. I don't entirely follow your premise, but I do agree the so-called 'free market' solution isn't always adequate and it is well worth noting that in the age of giant multi-national corporations who own almost the entire entertainment & media industries, they have an enormous amount of influence over public opinion rivaling that of most governments. The effects certainly aren't always negative but I think we should all be concerned about this manipulation & the far-reaching potential of it.
I don't always want to be exposed to politics & social issues. I get bombarded with it enough, too much, by choice. Sometimes I just want to be entertained. But these days you can't hardly watch movies, videos, award programs, late night comedy shows, a musical, and obviously not sports events without celebrities telling you what to think & what to support.
@Dino Manalis
I agree, I personally think it shows disrespect & clearly a very large group of people, possibly even a majority of the public find it disrespectful as well. I think it has lead some, maybe a lot of folks who are on the fence regarding police misconduct to tune out the arguments favoring action.
If the intent is to bring awareness, I think they're failing in that they're mostly creating a distraction. If their intent is to agitate, they're accomplishing that but I don't see how that's helping their cause.
Likewise, I think President Trump's rhetoric has lead some to give this behavior a pass when they probably wouldn't otherwise.
Well said. That neatly sums up where I've been on this as well. Frankly, while I've certainly had my views about it, I haven't offered very much opinion about it online until now. I just happened to see the program because I'm a frequent viewer. I saw Mr. Winston argue the point & thought it just didn't add up.
As for a staged question, you could be right. It did seem a bit contrived but I don't generally get that impression on this program. I've mostly found Mr. Garrett to be fair-dealing, eager to push back as devil's advocate if nothing else. That definitely didn't come across in this episode. I will say it is a valid question, because it is an argument a lot of people make, but it was a bit of a loaded question, too.
James Added Dec 3, 2018 - 8:49am
@Flying Junior
I appreciate that you weren't dismissing me as a "fathead". But while it may have been superfluous, I don't think my article qualifies as a "rant".
No, getting on one knee is certainly not an inherently insulting or offensive gesture. Proposing marriage often involves being down on one knee. I've heard all sorts of, in my view, intellectually dishonest rationalizations about how taking a knee is a sign of respect, maybe even more respectful than standing.
Obviously context is what counts. So is intention. Kneeling through the national anthem is not customary. And in this case, Mr. Kaepernick initially stated, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”  That proves to me that disrespect, or at least a diminished level of respect was his intention. That's how I continue to take it.
To be fair, Mr. Kaepernick initially started off sitting out the anthem & changed due to advice from the veteran player you spoke of. I admit, it is an improvement. For that I move it from the contempt category to diminished respect.
I agree that most Trump supporters & cultural conservatives don't like criticism of police use of force or criminal justice in general and this is their primary motivation. I live in Trump country, I'm surrounded by attitudes like this. But my article is not about them. It's about misguided efforts to protest genuine injustices by disrespecting national symbols, demonizing critics as racists, & ultimately alienating those who could be allies.
“Nobody ever said that they were taking a knee to piss off the monster. It was the vile demon himself who chose to make it an issue. He saw it as a political win.” ~ Flying Junior
Yes, he certainly knows marketing and how to exploit tensions. It is fascinating to watch those who depicted Barack Obama as a "divider" give Trump a pass. But you help illustrate that this issue isn't just contentious because of Trump, there are a lot of folks who find this stunt during the anthem to be unpatriotic. Trump shone a spotlight on it, but then, the whole reason for kneeling rather than using social media & giving speeches was to shine a spotlight. I just think they insulted a lot of people & created a huge distraction when they did.
@Jeffry Gilbert
Would you have preferred, “I take issue with people expressing their views in a way that is inherently disrespectful to the country, the flag, or the national anthem”?
I did at least acknowledge this from my view rather than claiming to speak for everyone. Something in short supply these days. All any of us here really have is our opinions based on facts, experiences & beliefs.
My opinion on this may have no value beyond myself, but then I'm also not the only one who shares this particular opinion. The fact is, a very large group of people consider this disrespectful or unpatriotic. Depending on the poll & how the question is framed, it appears a majority of the adult population does.
If it is indeed to get people at each other's throats, as you suggest, then does that fall entirely to the one who demagogues the issue — Trump — or also to those who, in order to gain attention, engage in behavior which many find disrespectful?
“If you truly feel there is an issue in what is going on, take action in the community, don't just make some meaningless symbolic gesture that offends most people”
I don't know who Dak Prescott is, but I definitely agree there! And to be fair, my understanding is a lot of players do contribute well beyond any contractual obligations. One can do both, but I would still say they are doing a disservice in disrespecting the country.
Fmontyr Added Dec 3, 2018 - 8:50am
Ryan Messano - you are wrong.
James wrote a well balanced article.  Then you add a comment that is erroneous.  I could see immediately that it was wrong and corrected it; there were also supporting references provided in the correction.  You, on the other hand attacked the messenger.
Perhaps you are aware that persons of high self-esteem will accept corrections as beneficial and will often be appreciative.  Persons of low self-esteem will be offended and become defensive, hurling insults, using cliche phrases, etc.
I am well aware of the animosity many whites have towards BLM and taking the knee.  But seeing someone distort the facts to place blame at the feet of blacks as you were doing required correction.
As for your lone scholar, Roland Fryer, he now stands with valid accusations of sexual misconduct.  He is to be sanctioned by Harvard, that ranging from reprimand to dismissal.
It is not unusual for "super-star academics" to seek greater attention by offering headline grabbing findings even if these are not supported solidly by facts.  That could be Fryer's problem. 
Flying Junior Added Dec 3, 2018 - 8:24pm

James Added Dec 4, 2018 - 3:11am
@Mogg Tsur
Ah, I think the Citizens United part threw me before, I see what you mean now. I agree. They can afford some fines if that's the only punishment. And look at Colin Kaepernick. While he was blacklisted for a while and certainly took a financial & professional hit for his behavior he's landed a reportedly very lucrative deal with Nike. And  there certainly has been a great deal of shaming going on toward those who criticize the players, and most especially to those calling for boycotts. Being labeled a racist can have serious social & financial consequences these days, whether there's any truth to it or not.
My sense is most people will move on from this but not if the players continue to put on a prominent display {for example: taking a knee rather than simply remaining in the locker room during the anthem}. Of course, it also depends on how much news media & Donald Trump stirs the pot.
Cullen Kehoe Added Dec 4, 2018 - 6:49pm
I'll throw one more point out on this. 

National honor is something many countries go to great lengths to obtain. Smaller countries shell out millions to help their athletes win a medal at the Olympics. (Yes, money that could go to helping "the children" gets diverted to help a swimmer or runner train and pay his coach...funny how life works. Think of a poor country like Jamaica.) 
National honor is something countries pay millions for to host an international competition like the Olympics. They often build brand new stadiums for tens to hundreds of millions. (Some of this is recouped through the tourists / spectators coming to watch the competition but you're still in hole many millions.)
This could literally feed children in need. Think of Brazil, slums and ghettos galore in places like Rio. But they hosted the Olympics in 2016. Why? National honor. Children in need took a back seat to it. 
The list goes on. Countries work hard and pay big for national honor. 
Like a family. You might dislike your siblings, your uncle and you don't get along. But someone says your family are a bunch of crooks, you'd leap to defend them. 
Because it's YOUR family. They are insulting you, effectively. 
In a country like the U.S.A. with so many outlets for protest. It seems strange that a professional sporting league would be the venue chosen to protest what is, at the end of the day, various problems with some local governments' police departments around the country.
(There is no federal or national police force for instance. Who's police department are they protesting? NYC? San Francisco? Chicago? Is every police department nationwide gunning down black men on a daily basis. We all know that's not true. )
Ward Tipton Added Dec 6, 2018 - 1:52am
Remember, the CEO is an evil personification of the evil corporation, only creating jobs, paying income taxes, paying payroll and associated other taxes and is highly over compensated for their greed. 
The actors and athletes who make tens of millions for living in the land of make believe and playing kids games are justly compensated and viable role models for our children! Unless they speak out in support of conservative values of course, ala Kanye West ... then they are mentally disturbed and just need to shut up and sing ... or something. 
James Added Dec 6, 2018 - 8:19pm
@Cullen Kehoe
Some excellent points! I hadn't thought about that, but it is true. Many nations, including our own, spend a great deal of money for national honor. It's why these leagues are paid from the defense budget {if I'm not mistaken} to hold these patriotic {some would say jingoistic} events.
I like your analogy, I do see it as an insult to the "family" so to speak. I'm all for criticism of government. There are many things that I dislike or dispose about our government, not just this administration but many of them going back decades. In my view there's a productive way to be critical of bad governance or social injustices but boycotting the national anthem or engaging in some stunt to show diminished respect isn't one of them.
James Added Dec 6, 2018 - 8:32pm
@Mogg Tsur
You're welcome, but I would rather you didn't delete your posts...
I agree with what you wrote, I too see a degree of commercialism in these displays. They are well-enough compensated & have enough automatic attention they can afford to advance their causes without resorting to national disparagement. I agree 'taking a knee' is a way to maximize attention with minimal effort. But with the attention they are sure to receive saying something — anything controversial, why insult millions who might otherwise be persuaded to support the cause? Puerile seems a good description for it.