The latest issue of Sports Illustrated has gotten into politics. I give SI credit for not shying away from controversy…controversy typically helps sell magazines. Therefore, it deserves to be the Cover of the Week. However, I’m just not sure the gamble is going to pay off for Sports Illustrated this time on newsstands, in the USA, although it probably will here in Canada.
Courting controversy comes with risk. I guess SI doesn’t care that ESPN’s ratings have been cratering as they have become increasingly embroiled in politics. And that NFL ratings have been tanking too, starting last year when Colin Kaepernick, a quarterback for the San Francisco 49rs, started his personal “protest” by not standing for the flag and the singing of the Star Spangled Banner. (Note 1: Colin was protesting racial injustice in the USA, in case you missed that part). (Note 2: The First Amendment enshrines and protects his right to Free Speech). (Note 3: The NFL’s Official Operations Manual strictly prescribes what is required of all players with respect to the National Anthem…and it requires standing).
Here’s what the game operations manual says regarding the national anthem:
“The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem. During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition. It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.” So far, there has been no “discipline, such as fines, suspensions and/or the forfeiture of draft choices for violations.”
Things weren’t going well for Colin last year, who earned $14 million dollars (that part is good) but whose team ended the 2016 season in last place in the NFC West, with just 2 wins and 14 losses (not so good). He then opted out of the last year of his contract (not too smart), to become a free agent. And like Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays, Colin discovered that there were no takers. The problem for Colin was that, unlike the Blue Jays, San Francisco didn’t take him back.
Spike Lee (Film Maker) waded into it, claiming all the NFL owners were racists and cowards for not offering Colin a job. Since Spike has never played, or coached, or owned a football team, most people ignored him. But then things got better for Colin (and Spike), when Donald Trump decided to make an issue out of it at a recent pep rally in Alabama. Now, all hell has broken loose. It’s gotten very entertaining indeed.
Negative reaction to the cover came swiftly, from both sides of the debate. Twitter lit up , many complaining: Why is Colin Kaepernick not on the cover? Good question. Which forced SI to come out with a video to defend the cover.
See URL below:
If you listen to the interview with Executive Editor Steve Canella, apparently, Colin is on the cover even though he is not. “Even though his picture isn’t there, Colin Kaepernick is there.” Really? I see LeBron James (NBA). I see Steph Curry (NBA). I see Roger Goodell (NFL Comish) , who has been harshly criticized for not supporting the protest in the league he runs. Perhaps the sad truth is: Sports Illustrated didn’t have the guts to put Colin on the cover.
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