On the NFL Disrespecting the American Flag

Guys, the insanity on social media about the NFL players and the American flag is getting out of hand. Just look at this guy.

 

This man is not alone. Check out what happened when I tried to find this clip on YouTube.

burning football gear

Even though this man and I do not see eye to eye on this issue, I was inspired by this man’s patriotic display. At least I was until I caught on to what actually set him off.

“Instead of being a game of sport, it ended up turning into a way to state your political views… I came to watch football…but what I end up seeing and rubbed in my face, not only the players on the team, the overpaid players on the team, but the announcers in the booth. They continue to rub these protests in face of the American people.”

I’m not here to argue that this man does not hold the American flag and the brave soldiers, who have died defending it, in high regards. He obviously does. However, I wonder if the catalyst for his display is actually his patriotism or if it is his intolerance. If NFL football players were kneeling during the anthem or otherwise “disrespecting the flag,” for a different reason, I am confident that he would not be burning his Redskins gear because the NFL routinely violates the U.S. flag code and he is just now starting the fire.

Take a look at the google image results for “american flag at football game.”

flags and football

How many of these pictures features flag displays that are in violation of the flag code? 12, not including the baseball field. How many do not? 4. 

Displaying the flag in a way that is “flat” or not “aloft and free” (source here) doesn’t seem inherently disrespectful, especially if it is done with care to keep the flag clean, but that is not where the NFL stops “disrespecting the flag.” Look at this.

flags on uniforms

The U.S. flag code says

(d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free. Bunting of blue, white, and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker’s desk, draping the front of the platform, and for decoration in general.
(e) The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.
(i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.

(j) No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.

How is carrying the flag contrary to the U.S. code, attempting to utilize it for profit, or wearing it in a way that is guaranteed to make it “torn, soiled, or damaged” more respectful than kneeling, a stance that indicates humility,  during the national anthem? I don’t believe it is.

I want to make it clear, that this isn’t just about conservative intolerance; that pendulum swings both ways (example here). If, after considering this, you still feel inclined to set fire to your gear, boycott games, or  otherwise peacefully counter-protest, that is your right. You are just as free as I am to use whatever influence we have to create the best America possible, but we need to be willing to consider where those who disagree with us are coming from and be painfully honest with ourselves in regards to our own intolerance, or we will loose that precious right.

 

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