Four lessons the NFL could learn from ABC
history and justice, just as Muhammed Ali has been honored for protesting the Vietnam draft.
2. Stand up for and defend the dignity of the people responsible for making your brand among the most valuable in the world. ABC built one of the most diverse audiences in entertainment by ushering in content that is created by, starred in, and catered to minority audiences. "black-ish," "Scandal," "How to Get Away with Murder," and "Grey's Anatomy," - successful shows created and produced by women of color whose appearance Barr presumably equates to apes. ABC made the bold, or maybe just fiscally prudent, decision to stand in solidarity with its diverse audience and talent pool.
However, after multiple demands and complaints from Donald Trump, including that the “ungrateful son of a bitch” should be forced off the field, the NFL acquiesced and forced every player off the field or to their feet. Adding insult to censorship, they did so without condemnation of the President or the resentful fans who have used racial epithets in reference to protesting players. The NFL demonstrated zero allegiance to the players that made it the most profitable athletic enterprise in America. Not exactly the best way to inspire morale and loyalty.
3. Do not capitulate to a tyrannical President’s attempts to use his political pulpit to bend the private sector to his will. Prior to Barr’s insidious remarks, Trump raved about her ratings and boasted about their close relationship. Naturally, following her departure he did what we all expected… defended Barr and attacked ABC for previous statements made towards him. Many expect Trump’s attacks toward ABC to continue and possibly escalate, but the network has remained unwavering, and I sure hope they continue to.
The NFL failed to demonstrate the same fortitude toward sustained attacks from Donald Trump, who has had the League in his crosshairs since they blocked him from buying an NFL team over a decade ago. Following sustained attacks against the players and encouraging fans to boycott professional football, the NFL commissioner and team owners (a group of all white men with one single exception) made a unanimous decision to comply with Trump’s demands.
This leads me into the final lesson the NFL could learn from ABC.
4. Put some women of color in charge at the NFL front office. It took less than 3 hours for ABC President Channing Dungey, a Black woman, to cancel the highest rated show on her network following Barr’s comments. In today’s atmosphere of heightened expectations of corporate responsibility many enterprises can learn from such decisive action. There is simply a greater social consciousness, sensitivity, and responsibility amongst communities that are most affected by oppression. And in American society, over the longest sustainable time, that community has been women of color.
A League that spent decades covering up irreparable physical and psychological trauma to its players, that shows more contempt toward peaceful protest then it does toward domestic violence, and that is more concerned with white comfort then it is with Black lives, is a League that can take notes from an institution that was bold enough to get it right…despite what it might cost.