Vin Scully's boycott of the NFL is stupid

In response to football players kneeling during the national anthem, Vin Scully has announced tat he will not watch the NFL ever again. 

His comments:

"I have only one personal thought, really. And I am so disappointed. And I used to love, during the fall and winter, to watch the NFL on Sunday. And it's not that I'm some great patriot. I was in the Navy for a year -- didn't go anywhere, didn't do anything. But I have overwhelming respect and admiration for anyone who puts on a uniform and goes to war. So the only thing I can do in my little way is not to preach. I will never watch another NFL game."

Questions:

Does Scully not know that the players who are kneeling are protesting police brutality and racism in the criminal justice system and not the flag or our servicemen and women?

Has he not heard that thousands of military veterans have openly supported the players' First Amendment right to kneel, arguing that this is exactly what they fought and risked their lives for? Some have even taken a knee in solidarity with the players. 

Has no one told Scully that at least one Major League Baseball player also kneeled in protest this past season? Is he done with baseball, too? 

Has he forgotten that he is a wealthy, white man who grew up in a segregated America, attended a prep school, and has no clue about what it's like to be an African American in America today? He can't begin to imagine what it's like to be an African American man during a routine traffic stop or what it's like to be locked up for a crime while your white counterpart goes free. 

Could someone please clue this old, white guy into the stupidity of his boycott, please? I've always liked and admired Scully, but this nonsense is seriously tarnishing his image.

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My 13 New Year's resolutions for the NFL

On the heels of my own list of New Year's resolutions comes my proposed resolutions for the National Football League.

There are many serious issues that the NFL needs to address. This list does not touch upon the more complex and serious issues facing the NFL but seeks only to increase a fan's enjoyment of the game.

Most of these proposals are relatively simple to adopt and should be implemented immediately.   

  1. Digitize NFL tickets. The fact that NFL ticket holders must possess a physical ticket on game day in order to gain access to the stadium is ridiculous. 
  2. Play at least one NFL game on Christmas Day regardless of the day of the week. 
  3. Play at least one NFL game on New Year's Day regardless of the day of the week.
  4. Broadcast two 1:00 games and two 4:00 games every Sunday without exception. Why this isn't happening already is beyond me. 
  5. Increase the height of the goal post by at least 20 feet. Someday soon, an important playoff game will be decided by a questionable field goal that is kicked higher than the current goal posts and will be misjudged by the referees. Field goal kicks above the posts are also not reviewable. 
  6. Expand NFL rosters by at least 10 players. Injuries play too important a role in the fates of NFL teams. Mitigate this impact as much as possible with expanded rosters.  
  7. Build a tunnel under Route 1 or a foot bridge over Route 1 adjacent to Gillette Stadium in at least three locations so pedestrians from the parking lots can cross the road without having to stop traffic. (Apologies. I know this is very New England Patriots specific).
  8. Allow NFL fans to vote out one NFL commentator per year if he or she receives at least 25% of the vote.
  9. Cease all mention of the preempting of 60 Minutes during the 4:00 CBS telecast. NO ONE IS EVER WONDERING WHY 60 MINUTES HASN'T STARTED.
  10. Cease all commercial breaks immediately following a kickoff.  
  11. Cease all indoor football games. Football is meant to be played outdoors. If they can play football outdoors in Green Bay, Wisconsin, it can play it anywhere. 
  12. Modify the pass interference penalty. Pass interference penalties shall no longer be spot fouls. The subjective nature of this penalty too often flips the field and completely changes the game based upon the opinion of a referee. Pass interference should be penalized as half the distance of the intended pass with a minimum of 10 yards and an automatic first down.
  13. Offer Super Bowl tickets to the fans of the Super Bowl teams first.

Who ever said that domestic violence and sexual assault are hard subjects to talk about? What’s the deal, NFL?

I applaud the NFL for their recent “No More” campaign, targeting domestic violence and sexual assault. I hope they continue to raise awareness and assist victims in every possible way.

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But their recent series of television ads baffle me. The ads, which feature prominent football players staring in silence at the camera, end with the message:

Domestic violence and sexual assault are hard subjects for everyone to talk about. Help us start the conversation.

I don’t think that domestic violence and sexual assault are hard to talk about at all.

Does anyone?

Perhaps it would be difficult to talk about these subjects with my children or my fifth graders. Maybe it would be difficult to discuss if I were the perpetrator of these crimes. But what is so hard about discussing these topics with law-abiding adults?

I honestly don’t get it. I can’t think of a single person in my life with whom I couldn't talk about sexual assault and domestic violence.

What am I missing?

If you’re critical of the National Football League, I understand completely. If you’re smug while doing so, you deserve to be kicked through a goal post.

Journalist Fuzz Hogan has decided to stop watching football this season. He cites head injuries, the the use of performance enhancing drugs and the way in which the NFL contributes to corruption in college football as his reasons for forgoing the game.

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I have no problem with someone deciding that football is too violent to continue watching. The data on head injuries alone makes the danger clear, and if a football fan decides to stop supporting that violence, I understand completely.

I also have no problem with anyone who decides to stop watching football because of the use of performance enhancing drugs. When the integrity of the game is questioned, then its appeal is understandably diminished.

I’m not sure if the corruption in college football would end if the NFL did not exist as Hogan suggests, but I have no problem with this reason, either. If this is what Hogan believes, his decision to stop watching professional football is admirable.

While I don’t plan to stop watching the National Football League anytime soon, I am more than willing to acknowledge that my continued interest contributes to a variety of serious health problems for the players, and that a boycott of the game would be a noble thing to do.

I just love the game too much to stop.

My dispute with Hogan is based solely in the astounding level of smugness that he exhibits when describing his football free Sundays.

He writes:  

News flash: Watching football is a time-suck. Studies have shown there’s 11 minutes of action in a game that takes three hours. So even though I’ve tried to convince myself that I can be productive during the game—checking e-mails, folding laundry, even working out—that’s still a lot of wasted time trying to not waste time.

This is not a news flash. Football fans have known this forever. Many sports, including baseball and golf, are no different. But the game’s appeal does not lie in the eleven minutes of real time play alone. It’s the moments of critical decision making, the euphoric celebrations, the instant replay, the analysis of each play, the gamesmanship, the strategy and the conversation and camaraderie that fans enjoy between the plays. While Hogan is correct about the eleven minutes of play, his use of the phrase “New flash” and the underlying implication that he is dispensing new information on football fans make him sound like a smug jackass.  

Hogan then goes on to describe his football-free Sunday: 

So instead, on the NFL’s opening Sunday afternoon I cooked dinner—a real dinner, with different dishes and a complicated recipe. I helped the kids with homework, with the attention span to actually help. I found out how the other third lives … the third that doesn’t watch the NFL. It was enjoyable.

What a smug jackass. A real dinner? My wife made grilled cheese sandwiches with apples and bacon last night. We actually picked the apples last week just prior to the Patriots-Saints game. It is one of my favorite dinners, and the whole family loved it. It took her about 15 minutes to make.

Was this not a real enough dinner for you, Mr. Hogan?

Was the lack of complicated recipes disappointing to you?

And what if we decide to order pizza for dinner on Sunday while I watch the Patriots play the Jets? Should I feel like a bad parent or an ineffective human being? 

Is that how you will think of me?

Knowing that you are making a real dinner, from a complicated recipe, while we eat pizza from a box, should I assume that the way that you are spending your time is better than mine?

And what if I choose to help my children with homework after the game? Is this not also acceptable? Is there some premium placed on homework completion during an NFL game?

Hogan then says that his football-free Sundays have allowed him to discover how the people who don’t watch the NFL live.

Has he been watching the NFL while stuffed inside a cardboard box? Did he retire to the basement and lock the door in order to watch the game? Does some moratorium exist that prevented him from asking his friends and family what they were doing while he was watching the game?    

What a stupid, ridiculous, self-serving, smug thing to say. 

I have no problem with the criticism that the National Football League receives. I have no problem with the decision to boycott the game or stop watching forever. I even have no problem with criticism directed at me for supporting this violent game.

But smugness? That’s the worse.