Burn Your Flag or Your Jersey: What’s a Mother to Do?

The furor over the NFL’s weak-kneed (pardon the pun) stance concerning the disrespect of the nation’s flag and National Anthem continues to rage on. People are rushing to take sides. What’s a mother to do?

As ever more light is shed on this subject, some strange happenings are taking place. Alejandro Villanueva, the lone Pittsburgh Steeler to emerge from the team’s locker room to stand and place a hand over his heart, has become a national hero. While many Pittsburgh fans are burning their jerseys and other team paraphernalia, Villanueva jersey sales have skyrocketed. Ironically, Villanueva felt the need to apologize to his teammates.

“God Save the Queen”

The Ravens and Jaguars played their game in England this past weekend. Prior to the game, the players stood for “God Save the Queen.” Many of them took a knee during their own National Anthem. My guess is most of them don’t understand the implications of such actions. Ravens fans are less than pleased (at least the ones I know).

The Cowboys, along with their owner (Jerry Jones), took a knee prior to the anthem, then stood for the anthem itself. I guess they were trying to dis the president of the United States while respecting the country itself. No one seems to know for sure. Directv subscribers are calling in by the droves to cancel their NFL Sunday Ticket package.

If you go to YouTube and search for “NFL fan burns jersey,” you’ll find dozens of posts. People are disgusted with their players, their teams, their owners, and the NFL in general. It’s a rather amazing sight to behold.

I used to worry that football (and sports in general) had become the new religion of Americans. I remember, years ago, a group of guys forming the Church of Monday Night Football. I suppose it was a joke of sorts, but they were as rabid as any Wednesday night Pentecostal. It definitely gave me pause.

To see rabid fans turning their backs on their Sunday afternoon heroes gives me a new perspective on Americans in general. It seems there are more important things in their lives. Who knew?

Denigrating the Symbol

One memorable Maryland woman stood beside the American Flag and lectured her team (the Steelers), tore off her Steeler shirt, and burned it along with a Steeler flag. It turns out we really do have American ideals in this country. People, young and old, male and female, seem to have had it with millionaire prima donnas denigrating the symbol of their hard fought battles.

The worst part of it all is how the whole thing has backfired. The original intent of taking the knee has all but been forgotten. The protest has become more important than the presumed cause behind it.

Maybe this Sunday morning there will be a few less people gathering in sports bars to get the best seats for the game. They might even show up for worship. I guess the church is safe for now (even though we take a knee quite a bit).

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]

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