It's fall, which is my favorite time of year. The days start to get a little shorter, the air is a bit crisper, and the kids are back in school. It's also time for my favorite sport - football. But this year, I'll be watching only college football, cause I just can't bring myself to watch any NFL games this season.
Before I explain exactly why I'm not watching the NFL, let me give you some context. I grew up in a football house - everything revolved around football season. My dad went to college thanks to a football scholarship, where he was a running back. As a kid, I always remember seeing football on in the house. In good years, my parents would bless us with trips to the Silverdome to see the Detroit Lions play. My dad started also started a Pop Warner football club, and both of my brothers were on his team. One of my brothers followed in our dad's footsteps and also played college football as well.
I was a Detroit Lions football fan before I fully knew all the rules of the game. I remember vividly watching football with my dad during the Barry Sanders years, and how excited my dad was to see him in action. I wasn't really a college football fan, but I loved watching Lions games with my family. When I became an adult, that love of the team carried with me, and I spent many a Sunday at the sports bar, or at home, watching my beloved team. Even when I moved and couldn't get games locally, I'd use various avenues to at least see the highlights of my team, if I wasn't at a sports bar downing wings and beer. But I wasn't just a Lions fan - I was a football fan. I'd gladly spend my Thursday night, Sundays, and Monday nights watching football, regardless of who was playing. There was a short list of teams I wasn't interested in watching, but for the most part, I'd watch an NFL game over anything else on TV.
I'm not a casual fan, by any stretch. And that's one reason why I felt a personal responsiblity to take a stand this season, and not watch any NFL games. Over the past few years there's been a lot of things within the NFL I've disagreed with, including:
· The countless incidents of domestic violence committed by players;
· NFL teams paying their cheerleading squads less than minimum wage (and essentially pimping them out);
· The lack of opportunities for Black head coaches despite the Rooney Rule;
· The arbitrary way that the NFL levies punishments against players;
· How the NFL uses NCAA football as a de facto development league (yes I'm one of those people who believes that college athletes should be paid);
· The health risks heaped on players, both from CTE but also the amount of pain meds heaped on players.
But Colin Kaepernick not being signed by any team in 2017 is what has pushed me over the edge. Yes, I"m boycotting because of Kaep, but honestly, it was simply the last straw that broke the camel's back. I've found the NFL problematic for years, but I couldn't bring myself to pull the trigger. I've now reached the point where I find nothing redeeming about watching the NFL.
I've seen a lot of comments about people boycotting the NFL this season that boil down to, "this is stupid, unless you're a Nielsen home it won't matter anyway". True, I'm not in a Nielsen home, but I also know that my dollars aren't enough to bring down a billion-dollar industry. That's not my intent in the least.
I'm the type that votes with my wallet. I don't give my support - financial, time, etc - to institutions I don't believe in. That's why I haven't sent foot in or bought from a Walmart in about fifteen years. I've even stopped shopping a brand I love (Modcloth) because it was purchased by Walmart. Now, me not shopping Walmart has zero effect on their bottom line, but it does have an effect on my conscience and wallet. I could give ~$5000 a year to Walmart, a business with numerous problematic business practices, or I could give that money to brands who practices and ideals align more closely with my own. I'm taking the same approach with the NFL, and I've resolved to not spend money at the sports bar, or buy tickets or merchandise, or add NFL Redzone to my streaming package. These are all things I've done in years past, but I can't bring myself to continue to support the NFL with my money or my time.
You may think I'm stupid, or misguided, or that I'll cave in by Week 4. I might be all of those things, but I'm also principled. Until the NFL makes a significant change, I simply can't support their activities. So this fall, I'll be spending my time doing other things, like knitting and writing. I expect I'll be a lot more productive this fall, and that's a great thing.