What is in a gesture? A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet, to paraphrase fair Juliet, and what matters if someone kneels, stands, lies down or does a yoga pose during the national anthem?
Yet we all know, deep down in our heart of hearts, that signs mean something, and the bigger the ‘something’, the bigger, or, more accurately, the more important, is the sign. As I wrote the other day, we ‘signify’ with our bodies, and quite regularly. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body is in large part about the ‘sign value’ of sex, that it is more, far more, than just a biological act.
Further down the scale of many other examples, there is shaking hands, also a sign, of peace, friendship, of offering your sword hand to a fellow man, leaving yourself vulnerable (which is why I strive never to shake hands with women, at least of the vigorous, grip-like, look ’em in the eye kind of handshake, for what, pray tell, is one signifying by such an act with a member of the fairer sex?)
Then we have standing for our national anthems, a rather important sign in itself, exemplifying that now-neglected virtue of patriotism, whereby one renews one’s allegiance and gratitude to one’s country, one’s flag, one’s ancestors and the freedoms and rights for which they strove, fought and too often died. To disrespect one’s anthem is to disrespect one’s country, to which, presumably, one has sworn an oath of aforesaid allegiance, itself a significant sign.
Trump is right on this one. NFL players who disrespect the national anthem should be fired. I have never had much time for professional sports, and see not much point in watching over-feted, over-paid, over-hyped millionaires chasing a piece of rubber up and down a field, or a court, or whatever. This applies especially to American ‘football’, where the foot is rarely used, and the players spend most of their time standing around aimlessly. In a typical three hour game, there might be twelve minutes of actual playing time, in the midst of one hundred commercials.
Games can be reasonably fun to play, but less regularly fun to watch. There are exceptions, when the stakes are high, the teams local, and one has a vested interest (as in, one plays said sport in ‘real’ life). But the current billion-dollar hype and excess already signified something wrong with America, before the ludicrous behaviour of these modern day gladiators, whom we ask to perform for us, smashing their bodies and brains in feats of strength and brawn that often leave them prematurely aged.
Yet here we have it all unravelling, so this rebellion of the players may have a good consequence, turning people away from these sports of little or no utility and benefit, bringing them part way out of Plato’s cave, into the sunshine of truth and goodness and actual activity and exercise, instead of sitting on their expanding behinds for six hours every Sunday. As one commentator put it rather eloquently:
… maybe there is God’s guiding hand in all of this. He commanded us to keep His Day holy, not to spend anywhere from three to nine hours watching narcicism sprinkled with unholy Viagra, Budweiser, and Go Daddy commercials.
Time to make The Lord’s Day holy again. Goodbye NFL……..
Already football ratings are going down the proverbial drain, with half-empty stadiums and low ticket sales. I am not sure these owners and players realize that the main people who pay to watch them are the so-called ‘middle’ Americans, the vast majority of them patriots, who see kneeling or sitting during the national anthem as a sign of deep disrespect, not of the President (which may be bad enough, for one salutes not the man but the office), but a disdain for the country for which their forefathers fought and died, and whose culture and freedoms allow them to make their millions. The ‘gesture’ of these new barbarians is itself a troubling sign of a far deeper division in the Res Publica, now played out in the more serious antifa movement.
So the players may not need to be fired after all. They may just fade away with the bloated billion dollar ‘not-for-profit’ organization which has thus far underwritten their fantastic and unjustified salaries, whose balloon is bursting like an over-ripe pigskin.
Let’s just hope the same does not happen to America.