Mike Pence’s Missed Opportunity

Sunday was supposed to be a day of celebration for the Indianapolis Colts, the Colts fans and family, and the thousands throughout their community. Peyton Manning returned to Indianapolis, where he spent 13 seasons embarking on a career that would lead to notable accomplishments such as most touchdowns (539) and wins (200) in a career, in addition to the numerous awards he’s received and the charitable contributions he’s financed. From sports, celebrities, and philanthropists, Manning means as much to Indianapolis as anyone would to any city. The team gave back on Sunday by retiring Manning’s jersey, celebrating one of the greatest careers in NFL history.

Vice President Mike Pence attended the event, which is not unsurprising. Pence was born in Indiana, attended school in the state, represented Indiana’s 2nd and 6th districts, and became Indiana’s Governor in 2013.

Then the National Anthem played. Pence (presumably) tasked an aide with taking a picture (is the aide disrespecting the anthem?) while being flanked by a veteran in uniform.

Then he walked out.

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On NFL Protests and Donald Trump

Ever since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat (and then eventually took a knee) during the National Anthem last year, incendiary arguments have been waged; this is the the wrong stage; he’s applying a fundamental American right; he’s disrespecting the men and women in uniform; the arguments are expansive. Kaepernick’s protest generated support, and even activism, among many NFL players, as well superstars from other sports. Even fans are boycotting the sport because there’s a widespread belief that NFL owners are colluding against Kaepernick. Even if fans disagree with the context, it must be acknowledged their right to protest. No rules are being broken. A few knees, a few fists clinched in the air is peaceful and their actions have has done little to disrupt the game. Are players sitting on the field during a play? No. Let ’em protest. That’s their right.

This is how athletes have protested for many generations in the United States; they are usually peaceful, symbolic, while generating significant attention, and enhancing a powerful dialogue, even if some people feel uncomfortable about mixing sports, politics, and race. This is how protests work. Many hate dealing with it. They can’t handle it. Regardless, it’s part of our sports lexicon, now more than ever; it’s a narrative that requires interaction and resolution. Yet, you have a choice; you can ignore the conversation and go about your life, take part, counter-protest/boycott, change the channel, walk away. While you don’t have the same stage as athletes (the availability of the internet is saturating that argument anyway), you have the same rights.

Then President Donald Trump weighed-in during a rally from Alabama on Friday night.

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