Amidst the backlash, bombast and brouhaha that’s brewing in this country and the NFL regarding standing versus kneeling during the national anthem, there is yet one more topic of discussion: the idea of a viewer and attendance boycott over the upcoming Veteran’s Day weekend. The boycott organizers urge fans not to attend, watch, listen or stream games, not to purchase gear or interact with the National Football League in any way on Sunday, November 12. The boycott page has attracted some interest from a few thousand people and a lot of Likes. Then again, anything that screams “I’m a patriot!” (the American revolutionary kind, as opposed to the New England football team mascot) is going to get attention.
Is this the right kind of reaction? Is kneeling for the national anthem the right kind of reaction? Does either one accomplish a real purpose? In the sense that we can and we do have the opportunity to express our beliefs freely here, there is a purpose. In the sense that we continue all the conversations when our president prefers it to be only one-sided, shutting out any dissent or alternative discourse, the is a purpose. At some point, when attention to this situation wanes and other news relegates it to background noise, we’ll stop giving it so much press and cease caring about it more than nuclear proliferation, starvation, mass shootings and the multiple natural disasters of the last few weeks.
But here’s a better idea. Ask a veteran what they think about this. If you don’t know one, go to your local VA hospital, nursing home, halfway house or senior center. Plenty of vets in these places. Plenty of televisions, too. Offer to sit with a vet on November 12, and listen to their stories and sorrows. Maybe those old soldiers and sailors, those Marines and pilots and gunners can teach you something. Bring some snacks and a little patience. These folks are slowed by time but worthy of yours. And they just may decide that the whole boycott idea is hooey, because they earned respect and honor without anyone standing up for them before now.