The Miami Dolphins are the first team in the NFL – and hopefully the last – who actively intend to punish their players for protesting the national anthem if the league’s new policy remains in place. Unfortunately, they probably won’t be, unless the fallout from this announcement sees the league change its approach to the issue. In short – the Miami Dolphins will not tolerate public campaigns against social injustice, and they’re softening the blow for others to do so if they wish.
For those unaware, the National Football League has its issues – plenty of them. They reward convicted domestic abusers with huge salaries, publicity and even actively use them for PR purposes. It’s toxic.
But the NFL doesn’t represent anyone besides its 32 owners. It’s a governing body that controls a league. They should have upstanding values, but we’re used to top brass losing their moral fibre in exchange for an image or a quick buck. To see the Florida-based franchise come out and say they will now punish their players for any form of protest during the anthems is sickening and it’s hard to envisage huge support for this stance.
While some teams agree to terms with players who have violent pasts and give them a platform to act as role models, the league has never once put their foot down or tried to correct these errors.
However, their odd standards were pushed further into the spotlight when they began to punish NFL players for their protests during the national anthem. Players like Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid have led the movement and now find themselves unemployed.
There are fewer coincidences in this world than you’re led to believe.
Former Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett’s statement last year seemed to perfectly describe the feeling among fellow protesters.
“First of all, I want to make sure people understand I love the military — my father was in the military. I love hot dogs like any other American. I love football like any other American.
“But I don’t love segregation, I don’t love riots, I don’t love oppression. I don’t love gender slander. I just want to see people have the equality that they deserve and I want to be able to use this platform to continuously push the message and keep finding out how unselfish we can be in society, how we can continuously love one another and understand that people are different.
“Whether it is Muslim, whether it is Buddhist, whether it is Christianity, I just want people to understand that no matter what, we need to stay together. It’s more about being a human being at this point.”
If you’ll allow politics and football to intertwine for a moment – they permanently are, regardless – Florida as a whole voted Republican in the 2016 general election. But Miami and its closest neighbouring major city, Fort Lauderdale – from where the Dolphins would draw a large fan base – are based in Miami-Dade and Broward respectively.
Broward (66.51%) and Miami-Dade (63.68%) are two of the three-highest Democrat-voting counties in all of Florida. As Donald Trump barks his orders at the NFL to fire those who ‘disrespect’ the anthem, it’s likely those who don’t follow him read the protests for what they are, rather than what the President wants them to be.
Bottom line – if the Dolphins are doing this for political reasons, they’re not even in touch with the likely views of the majority of their fanbase.
Very rarely have we seen as different an approach to a presidential election from two candidates than we did in 2016, and with the hard-line approach from Trump dividing the United States, Miami’s independent stance from the rest of the clubs may be the first domino to fall – leading to a clear divide among franchises in the league.
There is no doubt that the respective owners of NFL franchises have their own takes on this issue. They’re using NFL governance as they try to walk a political tightrope that is representative of a national divide. While none had fallen, some were starting to wobble.
Now, the South Beach franchise appears to be the first to have tumbled off.