Standing (On A Soapbox)

by Rich on August 21, 2017

I try to steer clear of politics here, but recent events have put some things on my mind and heart, and while I don’t want to offend anyone, I do have this outlet, so…here we go.

Lately, my Twitter feed and Facebook timeline look like something I might clean out of a clogged shower drain. There’s a lot of noise and a fair amount of righteous indignation being served up, with unhealthy sides of finger pointing and hand wringing. Sprinkled in among these tweets and posts are a spattering of people begging for football season to get here so that the focus will shift and we, as a nation, can distract ourselves from statues and flags and name calling for a while. Unfortunately, I think that’s nothing more than a pipe dream.

Sports in general, and for some reason football, in particular, have become another venue, another platform for various political viewpoints to be expressed. So while we might all be jacked about our fantasy football teams, I’m afraid that this season will do very little to ease recent, ugly public displays of animosity. And sadly, in many cases, it may only ramp up the vitriol as outliers vie for camera time. I hope I’m wrong, but you can see it already.The NFL’s preseason is underway, and it’s clear that our introduction into every game this year will be a shot of players standing or not standing during our national anthem, followed by mostly unproductive commentary and debate.

And that’s central to what I want to get off my chest. But before I do, some background and full disclosure. I am a white, southern, middle-aged, straight, conservative, Catholic, middle-class man. I have a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from an SEC school.

My life is pretty good and I’m not here to tell anyone how to feel.

Having said all of that, I want to tell every player that chooses not to stand during our national anthem one thing (not that they will ever read this, but…who knows?): while it would be nice if you stood, what I really desire, what I pray for, what I hope in some small way to work towards , is that you would WANT to stand.

See, when I hear that song, when I see the flag, I feel an immense sense of pride. I see every day how amazing our country is. And as a veteran who served in a combat theater of operations and buried shipmates at sea, I know the sacrifices that have been made for it. And I want everyone to feel that pride, that sense of ownership.

Here’s the thing, folks…we can make all the laws and rules we want. Leagues and coaches and teams can make things compulsory. That’s their right. But that does nothing to change the hearts and minds of those who feel the need to remain seated. That should be our communal goal. And if they don’t feel that pride, that’s on us.

“But Rich, some people have unrealistic expectations or skewed ideas about what this country was, is and should be! We can’t possibly be expected to please everyone!” Maybe not. But not being able to do everything does not relieve us of our responsibility to try to do something. That song represents a country where we are supposed to try. News flash: we all have different and probably skewed ideas about our country. We always have. But it’s time to be grownups. It’s time to exercise some good old fashioned politeness and just listen to each other.

Maybe then everyone will want to stand.





{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mom August 21, 2017 at 9:29 pm

Wonderful, thoughtful, clear and so “right on”!! Amen to this! It needed to be said, and who better has the right than someone who has served as you did.


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