The Department of Defense has spent at least $6 million to many NFL teams in exchange for their various salutes to service people and involvement in other military promotions at games. It is part of a recruitment process the War Department says.
Of course, America is madly in love with the military - it is #1 in prestige of all U.S. institutions, but no more is it loved than in San Diego California where there are numerous military bases and the Naval Air Force Pacific Fleet, Naval Surface Fleet, and Naval Special Warfare Command.
Enter Colin Kaepernick, quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers who played against the San Diego Chargers on September 1. In a previous game Kaepernick refused to stand up for the National Anthem. So when Kaepernick entered the stadium in San Diego he was loudly booed. When the national anthem was played he took a knee and fans screamed at him. Fans held signs which said "Kaepernick Hates America," and "San Francisco Should Secede From California."
The 49's QB is protesting against police brutality against African Americans and other minorities, which is rampant in the U.S. "Black people are oppressed and I'm not going to be quiet about it, said Kaepernick."
Navy Petty Officer Steven Powell sang the national anthem and fans chanted U-S-A, U-S-A. in San Diego. As part of the Chargers' 28th annual Salute to the Military festivities, which brought thousands of service members to the game, the Marine Band San Diego preformed before the game and then played the Stars Spangled Banner whose lyrics deal with war and speak about "bombs bursting in air." (The third verse, which is never sung, is a defense of slavery.) Throughout the game were shouts and screams of U-S-A, U-S-A,U-S-A! The only thing missing was the loud roar of jet warplanes flying over the stadium as frequently occurs at NFL games.
The crowd, in a patriotic frenzy, booed Kaepernick throughout the game which didn't bother him as he played brilliantly leading the 49's to a victory.
Cops and some veterans have criticized Kaepernick. A police union demanded that the NFL disavow his "foolish statements" and on CNN he was criticized as being insulting to those who made sacrifices for the country. "When we sing about the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air, we're showing support for those who are killed and maimed when sent to fight in America's needless wars," said the man who appeared on network TV.
AS the controversy grew, members of the military and veterans defended the QB and took to social media using the hashtag #VeteransForKaepernick, which has started trending worldwide and gone viral.
"Don't use my service--or that of any veteran--to justify the silencing of black Americans. Not on my watch," one said on #VeteransForKaepernick.
Ty Schelter of Vice Sports reports, "Before the 2015 NFL Draft, there was a national anthem performance that upped the alignment of patriotism and militarism: Active-duty and wounded soldiers beside an honor guard, a compulsory mass stand and salute, a commissioned officer belting out the song, and a massive videoboard flag animation behind it all.
The nearly 4,000 attendees were whipped into such a patriotic fervor they began chanting "U-S-A, U-S-A!" This was at a business meeting where football players were going to find out about how much money, often millions, they were going to make depending upon which NFL business operation drafted them.
Schelter also reports that such excesses are beginning to turn fans against the linking of militarism, patriotism, and football. Kaepernick, may have not only brought the topic of black lives mattering to the fore, but also the connection between football and jingoism at a time when the public is becoming war weary. An irony here is that Kaepernick in public statements is a great supporter of the military. Perhaps a greater irony is that the U.S. military perhaps has overreached as have the ear-spitting super-patriots who may have created a backlash.