Today I’m ending a tradition that I have observed for more than five decades.
This could be more an indication of my advancing age than the value of this particular tradition.
It is Sunday and the professional football season has started. According to my long-established tradition, I should be in front of the television watching the Chicago Bears.
Instead, I’m writing these few words to explain why my football tradition is over – at least for this season.
There is an old joke about professional hockey that goes like this: Golly, I went to see a boxing match and a hockey game broke out. Hockey, for those of you who don’t follow it, tends to have more fights between players than other sports.
The new joke, although not particularly funny, could go like this: Golly, I went to a political demonstration and a football game broke out.
Professional football lost its way when the people running the National Football League decided to allow players to express their opinions about various causes on the field of play, as opposed to doing so on their own time from their own venue.
If quarterback Shifty Shorts of the Punxsutawney Phils wants to write a letter to the editor advocating groundhog liberation and put a Groundhog Lives Matter sign in his front yard, that is fine with me. He certainly has the right to express himself.
But when I tune into a football game on television (or pay the equivalent of a day’s wages to actually attend in person) I want to see football.
At the risk of sounding negative, I don’t want to see football players kneeling in protest. I don’t want to hear alternative national anthems. I don’t want political or “social justice” slogans in endzones or on helmets or jerseys. I don’t want to sit though dozens of commercials by corporations trying to demonstrate that they “really care” about various social causes.
More positively, I want to just see talented, hard-working athletes using their God-given talents to engage in a test of sporting excellence.
When football returns to being football, I’ll return to being a fan.