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Dear NFL, it’s so over.

You’ve had chance after chance to do the right thing in many circumstances, but the powers that be in your organization and teams continue to make choices that oppress people who are not hyper-masculine, straight white male.

Let’s begin with race.

It’s seems as though you are using bodies for your own profit.  And often, it’s the bodies of black males.  You use them for your own entertainment, like in the days of the gladiators in the arenas.  (How many have had repeated concussions and now have chronic traumatic encephalopathy?)  Yet when they have an opinion that diverts from your owners or viewers, then they magically do not get their contracts renewed.  Funny – their talent is greater than many players out there, but they aren’t playing.  Colin Kaepernick is a good-hearted soul that wants justice in our world.  He spends his resources building up other people.  And yet he’s the one who has been unofficially banned from playing for using his agency to make the world aware of police brutality.

Secondly, you also forget the women.

There’s the issue of the cheerleaders who get paid less than minimum wage and must spend their own resources to keep their looks in top shape.  (Two articles to read are here and here.  Additionally, I wrote a piece on this blog here.)

And football player-related arrests tend to be related to domestic violence and sexual assault.   The most frustrating thing about the response by the NFL is the minimal punishment (two to four game suspension like in the 2014 case of Ray Rice).  A player committing violence against his partner is only ousted for a couple of games; a player peacefully protesting police brutality gets ousted indefinitely.

Furthermore, when riches and partiers gather at a Super Bowl city, trafficking tends to increase.  Women and children are sold for a price for their bodies.  The cities do what they can to watch for signs of traffickers and victims; yet according to this 2017 article, the NFL is in denial that such events take place at their precious event each year.

And you’ve managed to brush aside openly gay football players.

Again we fall upon widespread hyper-masculinity when seeing that there has never been an openly gay active NFL player, and few have come out after retiring.  Michael Sam was drafted far into the draft and was eventually released – never mind his stellar NCAA record.

I’m sure that if you haven’t cared much about the other three groups, you’ve tried to ignore how you’ve played the intersections of race and gender.  And with this I’m talking about Janet.  (And since you are nasty, it’s Ms. Jackson to you, NFL.)  Two people were part of the act.  Ms. Jackson was publicly shamed and has been snubbed for many years.  Her partner in the 2014 act will be leading the halftime show.  She’s an African-American female.  He’s a white male.  There’s a pattern developing here…

And lastly, let’s think about wealth and your system, NFL.  When I go on Instagram, I will see a host of celebrities with their photos at the game.  I will also see a host of your friends taking selfies at their homes in front of the chicken wings.  It’s because the cost of a ticket is almost $3,000.  And the tickets went up 31% compared to last year.  All games can be expensive, but when the tickets are this expensive, a person would have to work 413 hours at minimum wage to buy a ticket.

It would be nice if a certain percentage of tickets would go at a fair price to the average American consumer.  But from my experience working at the Super Bowl hospitality village immediately before the 2001 game in Tampa, I saw how many corporate partners get tickets for the game, and how many get fed and provided libations in their own little tents inside the village right before the game.

NFL, you’ve managed to marginalize people of color, women, the LGBT community and working-class people.  So as you see it’s you, not me.   I avoided the entirety of your game and halftime show.  I wrote and watched a movie on television.  I still ate guacamole and chips, but instead of watching men of color used for their bodies and women on the sidelines objectified for a small fee, I chose to watch Kylie Jenner’s baby video instead.

(That’s right.  Kardashians over you, NFL.)

Regards,
Michelle

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