Property Rights, Patriotism, and the NFL

Posted on October 10, 2017 by Robert Ringer Comments (54)

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After an initial, kneejerk belligerence, NFL teams have shifted into damage-control mode and are doing everything within their power to make the ill-fated player protests fade quietly into the dustbin of history.

When the money-hungry, toady team owners initially rushed to support their players, I was pretty certain they would change their tune once they discovered, to their surprise and horror, that a majority of paying customers adamantly opposed the players’ protest antics.

There are two major points to consider here.  First, I believe the arguments we initially heard in the media were based on a false premise — that NFL players possess rights they clearly do not possess.  No matter what the arguments favoring the players may be, they are overridden by a single, inalienable right — the right of a property owner to do whatever he desires with his own property.

In a truly free society, the rights of a business owner (i.e., property owner) are virtually unlimited, so long as he does not violate the natural rights of his employees.  If an owner cannot do whatever he wants with his property, he does not truly own it — no ifs, ands, or buts.

In the case of the NFL, an owner’s property rights include the right to make his employees stand, hands over their hearts, during the playing of the national anthem.  An NFL player, or any other employee, has no First Amendment rights while in the workplace.

In addition, the league, which, in effect, is owned by the individual team owners, has a right to enforce its own rules, including those in its game operations manual, and those rules call the players to stand at attention, face the flag, hold their helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking.

But what about the worker?  Doesn’t he have rights?  Again, in a truly free society, a worker has one overpowering, inalienable right with regard to his job:  He can quit at any time he chooses, for any reason whatsoever — or for no reason at all.

In other words, the demagoguery of race baiters notwithstanding, an NFL player is not a slave.  If he does not like his employer’s rules, he is free to search for employment elsewhere, which is where it gets sticky with professional football.

By “sticky,” I’m referring to the monopoly Congress granted the NFL decades ago.  As a result, NFL players have no other realistic employment option other than joining a second-rate league.

Ironically, it was none other than Donald Trump who fought the NFL’s monopoly in the courts when he led the charge on behalf of the United States Football League (USFL) in its antitrust lawsuit against the NFL.  The USFL won that suit, but the judge, in a strange, Comey-like ruling, stated that the NFL was indeed in violation of antitrust laws, yet mysteriously awarded the league only $1 in damages (increased to $3 because of the treble-damages clause in antitrust law).

Thus, the NFL is wrong on two counts:  First, because it holds a government-granted monopoly, and, second, because Roger Goodell and team owners are unprincipled cowards who do not have the guts to enforce their own rules.

But aside and apart from property rights and monopoly issues, there’s a second major factor in this childish NFL saga that needs to be addressed, that being patriotism.  True patriotism revolves around tribalism, a phenomenon that has always been with us and is with us today more than ever before.  That’s what the populist movement — worldwide — is all about.

I have always believed that diversity, contrary to the constant drumbeat of the left and its allies in the fake news media, is a weakness rather than a strength, if preservation of one’s tribe is the objective.  The diversity I am referring to has nothing to do with race, but everything to do with culture.  And at the heart of every culture is a generally accepted code of conduct, without which no society can exist.

Prior to the anti-American, anti-Western morality revolution that began in the sixties, America’s code of conduct was based on the anti-authoritarian, freedom blueprint the Founding Fathers spelled out for us.  And at the heart of that blueprint was the most civilized set of behavioral guidelines in the history of mankind.  That said, if the America I grew up in is the model upon which patriotism rests, then, yes, I am a patriot in that I have always loved and supported that way of life.

What has this got to do with the NFL player protests?  Everything.  Even if you have a legitimate grievance against America, as an American citizen you are morally obliged to heed to its protocols, symbolisms, and traditions and abide by its generally accepted code of conduct.  And included in that code of conduct is showing respect for the flag, the national anthem, and the principles set forth in our founding documents that support our way of life.

By contrast, anyone who acts in a way that shows disrespect for these symbols and principles also shows, by extension, a disrespect and lack of appreciation for those who have given their lives to protect all that we have and enjoy today — as well as those who, at this very moment, are fighting to protect us.

If someone does not believe in the moral superiority of the culture that made America the greatest and freest country on earth, it raises the question of why he should be able to reap the rewards of living in such a culture.  Simple decency and civility call for NFL players to show respect for the country and fans who make their luxurious lifestyles possible.

Make no mistake about it, it’s the patriotic thing to do.

Robert Ringer

+Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.

54 responses to “Property Rights, Patriotism, and the NFL”

  1. Roger Roger says:

    Amen, Robert!

  2. TheLookOut says:

    Robert, your perspective as usual is right on. My sincere hope is that Americans
    of all stripes will show their contempt for the NFL(National Fools league) by
    boycotting this absurd behavior.
    There are ways to protest, and get your views known, the sports arena is neither
    the time nor the place, and hopefully will not be tolerated by any true American.

  3. LLLL says:

    You are absolutely 100% correct. Love this column. 😍 👍🏻👍🏻

  4. Richard Head says:

    Robert: You have made my head spin with your post. I am trying to confirm that the "patriotism" about which you have written lies within the paradigm of reality, reason, egoism, and capitalism. Do you agree with this definition of the United States of America: http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/america.html? Best, D.I.C.K.

  5. NotPropagandizd says:

    I love logic. Sadly, the America-hating conspirators that seeks to destroy every trace of American cultural superiority ignore logic in favor of their relativism and infidel convenience. Logic is the disciplinarian of those of us that find ourselves on the other side, the side of illogic. We must bow to logic if we are to be a civilization or a high civilization. Which goes to show the America-haters have no interest in any type of civilization of a higher order because the implicit culture limits their acceptable behavior. We should all love logic and be prepared to bow to its discipline when we stray. Freedom flexes its muscles when its benefactors take responsibility and impose discipline on themselves. Freedom flourishes when we self-limit so that our selfish interests give way to interests of the many. Thanks for a great column.

  6. Winslow says:

    Excellent Background and solid explanation. You would think the Owners and the players would realize that fans do not want to be forced into the choice between the NFL and our culture. The leagues acts as though we must accept this because we can't get their product anywhere else. There always has been many other events for my time and money than the NFL.. Kicked the habit over a year ago and not missing it at all. Enjoying the PGA and NASCAR these days. I will take Patriotism any day over acts of rebellion against our nation.

  7. Rick G. says:

    Robert, you are absolutely correct and right on target on this issue. Incidentally, I had always been a staunch Dallas Cowboys fan. Until now. No more! I destroyed all of my NFL gear last week, never to have anything to do with that team or the NFL again. That includes my Tony Romo and Jason Witten jerseys which I shredded and pitched among other items. It amuses me how owner Jerry Jones took a kneel with his team members earlier prior to one of their games, but now comes out against such a thing, saying that all his team members must stand for the national anthem or they cannot play. I guess he suddenly got cold feet and realizes the potential damage this could do to the future of the team (as in $$$$$). Well, bye bye Jerry Jones and your Cowboys, and "America's Team" bullshit. I'm gone forever!

  8. thebacksaver says:

    Once again, a government imposed (is there any other kind?) monopoly is the genesis of the entire controversy. In the absence of this, there would be other choices for viewing professional level football, which would have been quickly exercised by the "invisible hand" of market forces.
    It is so very difficult to find ANY problems, controversies and ills that are not washed away by market forces (when they are allowed to act.)

  9. Richard Lee Van Der says:

    Yes, EXCELLENT reasoning, and statement espousing American, Human Values! I agree totally. And maybe,
    the argument here could be extended to other forms of work. For example, I believe even though in my father's time, labor unions were necessary to claim justice, but, over the years, I believe, Unions and the workers who agree with them, have gone too far. I've heard of many situations in which workers now rip companies off even though they are well-paid, or better than…

    • Jean says:

      You're very right on that, Richard. For all of his flaws, Jimmy Hoffa understood basic economics and knew how to read a balance sheet and p & l statement. When he argued for raises and benefits, it was with a solid understanding that the company was making a profit and he could cite the margins. What a lot of people don't know, however, is that when he saw that a company was running in the red, he rallied his union members to work harder and smarter to make that company grow, with the caveat that when the company began operating in the black, then there would be upgrades to the union contract. Hoffa delivered on his promises more often than not, garnering the respect of corporate heads and the loyalty of union members.

      After he was incarcerated, George Meany of the AFL-CIO became the Big Man on Campus among union leaders. Meany was and is a communist sympathizer, and he really began promoting leftist tactics. It was during that time that many manufacturing firms started moving to Mexico, as labor costs were skyrocketing while labor quality was dropping.

      • Jim Hallett says:

        I have no problem with unions existing (though I personally despise them and do not agree with the premise that they were necessary to get workers "rights" and benefits they were entitled to), but my major sticking point is that they are NOT voluntary, and therefore violate the "commit no aggression" principle. Hoffa may have been a slick union leader, but was a criminal (his demise was due to hanging out with folks who do not negotiate on anything, and when he would not go along, he was murdered). Unions, particularly the UAW priced the American automobile market into a position they have never recovered from, since workers were overpaid vis-à-vis the quality of car they produced. The NFL operates much in the same way trying to hold the fans hostage (who pays for these luxury palaces they play in and have to endure the non-stop assault of advertising everywhere??) while raking in $9 Billion. I hope fans respond by voting with their wallets, and not endorsing this league, with its idiot commissioner, Roger Goodell.

  10. Rocketman says:

    I believe that the team owners have simply waited too long and now the damage has been done and is permanent. If the first week that Colin K. had taken a knee had the team owner had taken him aside and told him that he was in violation of the conduct clause of his contract and that if he did it again the he would be unemployed this would have been a minor incident quickly forgotten.

    • Rick G. says:

      And Colin K. now says that he will stand for the national anthem if they let him play football again. WTF! What a goof! Get out here!

    • larajf says:

      I totally agree. At this point, they remind me of very stubborn 4 year olds putting their head down and refusing to let go of their position.

  11. Chris Kauffman says:

    I heard that the Chicago Police have a new way of apprehending thugs without firing a shot. When the police are in pursuit of bad people, on their loud speakers they start blaring our National Anthem and the thugs immediately drop to their knees.

  12. Avery says:

    Robert, I have been reading your writings since 1985. This is the first time I disagree with your logic. If this is truly a "free" country, then no one should be forced, compelled or coerced into pledging allegiance, standing for or saluting the flag especially when the promise of "liberty and justice for all" is reneged on.

    I never thought that you, Robert, would use the tactics of "flipping the script", "changing the narrative" and "killing the messenger". The protest is about the treatment of people of color in this country. But too many white people are, as usual, telling people of color what they are doing (wrong) or saying (wrong). You do not get to tell the protester how, where and when they can protest because then it is no longer a protest.

    Employees are not property. This is not about property rights. And since federal law trumps employer's rules, I believe the First Amendment is still in effect. Beside, the players play when the clock is ticking, not before the game starts or after it ends. They get paid for playing the game. Unfortunately, that fact has been forgotten and too much attention is being paid to what players do off the field.

    The people who are complaining about the protesters are actually the ones disrespecting the flag and the soldiers who gave they blood fighting for our freedom. It is the freedom to protest that they died for in the first place. I am sure, Robert, you can see both the irony and the hypocrisy.

    When the country disrespects your race, why should you show any respect to the country's symbols?

    Thanks again to my classmate and friend, Tres Jordan, for setting me straight on this back in Junior High school.

    • CaliConservative says:

      Sorry Avery, professional athletes get paid to ENTERTAIN – and the minute they stop being entertaining their employers have the right to find alternatives that will keep their customers entertained. If the athletes want to conduct their protests the owners have the right to tell them it is unacceptable and put an end to it. As Robert mentions, if Goodell and the owners weren't so gutless and enforced the rules on the books this would have ended.
      This is no different than any other place of employment. My employer would not put up with me staging a protest during working hours. The players can protest during their free time like everyone else that has a gripe. Let's see how many "fans" come out to a rally to support them, better yet, let's see how many of these guys actually would give up their free time to participate in a rally for civil rights
      Bottom line is that while you are employed you follow the employer's rules. If you don't like it you have the freedom to find alternative employment. While I think many of these athletes are morons, they have figured out that they can't make this kind of money doing whatever else they are qualified to do (which isn't much for most of them). Ironically, Colin "Rosa Parks" Kaepernick didn't figure that out – he walked away from a guaranteed $14 million this year with the 49ers and now has people saying he is being blackballed. I call it being held accountable for his own stupidity

      • patg2 says:

        I have a friend who is a Christian (grew up as an atheist in Ukraine, spent time in a Nazi work camp, so you know she isn't going to be half baked about it.) She used to work an assembly line job. SHE NEVER WITNESSED WHILE ON THE JOB. She recognized that she had a duty to her employer, even though the Christian faith otherwise overrides everything. She did her witnessing outside of work hours. Looks like the same principle to me. You get paid to do a job, you do it. You don't use your job as a venue for social statements and protests.

    • Robert Ringer RJR says:

      Simple logic dictates that property rights trump the right to free speech – period. The right to free speech does not give you the right to go onto someone else's property and speak your mind.

    • Common Sense says:

      Avery, freedom of speech–the whole Bill of Rights in fact–is protection for the citizens from the GOVERNMENT. They don't apply to private employers. (College sports are different).

      The contract the player and the team signs determines rights and responsibilites.

    • patg2 says:

      The players voluntarily entered into a contract. If the owner tells them to do what they have agreed to do, he is perfectly within his rights. Contracts overrule constitutional rights. The Constitution protects us from GOVERNMENT action, not that of private companies with which a person has entered into a contract.

      Second, don't claim the country is racist. The country is made up of over 300 million INDIVIDUALS, some of whom are racist, and some of whom are not. You are labeling me and my family unjustly. Our family is racially integrated by choice, and represents every major "race" and several minor ones. We all love each other. There is no discord due to race in our family.

  13. Joan says:

    Whether a football game, speech, or some other platform, I'm getting pretty ticked with "protesters" hijacking other people's forums. These people are nothing more than leeches. They should be paying for their own forum and speaking at their own venue. THEY should be laying out the money, time, and energy for the coordination, location, and security and for drawing THEIR OWN AUDIENCE.e The fact that they are taking advantage of the venues others shows them up as the opportunistic parasites they are being.
    It's one thing if a person in a crowd of 100,000 holds up a John 3:16 sign at a football game–most likely not worth the owner's time to address. It's quite another however if a paid staffer at that game starts a bible-thumping harangue in the broadcast booth. No one would even question him being escorted out of the box by security. But there sure has been a whole lot of hand-wringing when a football player being paid millions of dollars can't show simple courtesy during the national anthem. Is everyone supposed to sit down during the national anthems of their opponents at the Olympics now?
    People who hijack these forums should be dealing with the consequences of practicing their free speech rights–you know, like adults rather than a bunch of coddled 5-year-olds. If the NFL has rules about how to comport oneself on the field, then follow them or get out. It's VERY unfortunate that the NFL has a protected monopoly, but if players or staffers feel that strongly about standing or kneeling, then they should be perfectly satisfied that they followed their hearts as they are escorted from the stadium and their contracts liquidated.
    All this parasitic activity is really nothing more than a brazen abuse of the rights of everyone else and needs to be seen for the aggression that it is.

  14. Caroline says:

    Outside of these protests I can understand why some people feel the anthem and flag doesn't represent them as their ancestors were not free in the "land of the free". I would like to hear thoughts on this.

    • Rick G. says:

      Nothing on you, Carolinr, but these people need to get over it. What has been done is done. They keep harping and crying on the same old issues that cannot be undone no matter what. And it will never stop. You cannot change history. And besides, a lot of people, including me, are getting tired of hearing it.

    • patg2 says:

      One big difference between us and most of the rest of the world. We fixed it. We ended slavery. It's over. And slavery continues in many parts of the world even today. Why should people feel the anthem and flag don't represent them under THESE circumstances? Huh?

  15. Lana says:

    Excellent article! Thanks for always saying what "we the people" are thinking.

  16. Rick G. says:

    This ia an addendum to the comments I made above.
    Pres. Trump was right in referring to these kneelers as S.O.B.'s. And they are, overpaid, underachievers who need to keep Radic-Lib politics out of professional football. Go Donald! And, Vice Pres. Mike Pence was right on walking out of the Colts-49er's game last week because of kneeling during the National Anthem. Go Mike!

  17. Rick G. says:

    Caroline, not Carolinr. Sorry for the misspelling.

  18. Marte says:

    Employees have a right to quit their jobs if they don't like the employer's rules – and these spoiled ingrates who play football have a right to leave the country they seem to hate and go live somewhere they find more acceptable.

    Personally, I wish they would.

  19. Lora says:

    I just don’t understand what all this “protesting” is accomplishing. Wouldn’t it accomplish a lot more if they actually put their money (gasp) towards legal fees and education?

  20. Chris Newman says:

    A question about these misbehaving NFL players. How many of them are the product of single-parent (solo mother) situations? And how many of them have advanced through the system supported by Politically Correct Affirmative Action (or similar) programs?
    Are we witnessing an example of the entitlement mentality finally overbalancing because the misbehaving NFL players think they are god-like and their egos surpass their patriotic duty? Is this hubris on steroids?
    I am interested to know if anyone out there has any data to address these points I raise as an observer living in New Zealand who once lived 12 years in the United States and considers those as some of the best years of my life. God Bless America!

  21. Steve Victor says:

    IMHO, politics have no place on the football FIELD. That being said, a one-time protest would not have been so horrible, and would have brought attention to the issue. The continuing nature of the demonstrations only hurts the kneelers’ cause.

  22. Guido says:

    Is this the same Tortoise who wrote, "Restoring The American Dream"?? We are "morally obliged to heed…and abide…."? The 1979 Tortoise told us that those who said such things are freedom's enemies. Has the Tortoise changed his spots?

    • Eric Scott says:

      My thoughts exactly. Totally in conflict with his writings regarding people wanting to impose their morality on others. I wonder who enforces this "moral obligation"? Perhaps there is a "moral obligation" police?

  23. Jana says:

    Wonderful. Maybe DT who has a personal history will push getting rid of that antitrust exemption. There is no reason for it except for a Congress with "full pockets."
    You almost always write well thought out articles. This is no exception.

  24. Jack says:

    If I were Trump they could get a free ride on AF1 to anywhere in the world if they promised to stay.

  25. Avery Horton says:

    Changing the narrative does not address the issue. It is not about the flag, it is about how people of color are treated. It would be easy for the players to count their money and forget about those who are still struggling. It takes guts to put your job on the line.

  26. RealitySeeker says:

    Big kids getting paid tens of millions to play little kids games is a sign of a very sick "culture" to begin with. America has got very big problems with the emphasis which is placed on the modern Colosseum. It's the classic "bread and circus" mentality of a declining empire. This people of 21st century America are the ones supporting an entertainment "culture" that prioritizes meaningless kids games at a time when the focus should be on saving themselves from a horrific collapse.

    So. When one of these man-kids takes a knee I wish they'd actually protest for something meaningful that real, erudite men and women have been warning about for years, viz., the decline and fall of the American Empire and the looming nuclear war which is now likely to occur because President Trump isn't bluffing with NK and Iran…

    • Robby Bonfire says:

      The fact that President Trump is not bluffing with NK and Iran is our best defense and our best chance for long-term survival – because our sworn enemies know he is not bluffing.
      If a Demo were in office today we surely would have been demolished as a nation, by now. You want Hillary or Jimmy Carter to be in office at a time like this? Good luck with your fantasy life where it comes to national defense and our best chance for survival.

  27. patg2 says:

    The money people spend on tickets is also their property. If they choose to withhold that money because they don't like the behavior of the players, that is also their right. Otherwise, I agree with your analysis completely.

  28. Pitch says:

    I am convinced that the NFL should be renamed to the "NATIONAL PLANTATION LEAGUE" after listening to the detailed examination of the elements of unpatriotic and oppressive behavior on ESPN.
    All these disenfranchised and marginalized millionaires should immediately move in with "Last Chance Harvey" at his European Villa for REHAB!

  29. Scott theczech says:

    Most people are ignorant of these facts about the NFL; thank you for the expose' of this "carved out" enterprise in our country. I applaud every alternative that came along over the years: first, the American Football League started back in 1060, then the United States Football League challenged the NFL and finally, the latest challenger – the Extreme Football League (XFL).

    It is very difficult to compete when the deck is stacked against challengers. This is what flies in the face of the American tradition! Instead of providing a better, more cost competitive product, the NFL was allowed to use the legal system and corrupt politicians on the national, state and local levels to crush any challengers! So much for free markets and, if you'll pardon the pun, a level playing field.

    • Robby Bonfire says:

      Well the NFL did not "crush" the AFL, with which it merged in 1970. The fact that this merger came about at the behest of the television networks makes sense, given that TV dictates everything connected with sports broadcasting, these days – scheduling, time outs, game starting times, along with the over-expansion of all professional sports leagues so that they can blanket the ratings sweeps in every corner of the nation.

      • Scott Theczech says:

        Right, but they have to agree to a merger or acquisition. The AFL was beginning to cut into the NFL'S market share big time toward the mid 60's.

        • Robby Bonfire says:

          The fact that President Trump is not bluffing with NK and Iran is our best defense and our best chance for long-term survival – because our sworn enemies know he is not bluffing.

          The Joe Namath signing with the Jets, instead of the NFL Cardinals, started to swing the balance of power and there was just too much money on the table for both leagues to compete, any more. So they went the "legal monopoly" route.

      • Scott Theczech says:

        "Didn't have to agree"

  30. TN Ray says:

    Another outstanding essay by RR. Now for Hillary the Horrible Divider's latest take: … "Protests are not about anthem or flag …they are about racism and injustice". Thus we have the typical Liberal / Democrat viewpoint so well expressed. America is racist, unjust, and unworthy of respect. Democrats on the other hand, are the party of "Justice" and for lack of a better word …Utopia. Well, if the Democrats and NFL players are waiting for Utopia on Earth untill they respect the flag and all who have sacrificed for the freedoms and progress made in the quest for liberty and equality under the laws of this nation, then the NFL can wait until Utopia is reality, and, then I will watch the NFL again. Untill then, NEVER AGAIN.

  31. Jon Exner says:

    If these football players truly wanted to protest in order to make a statement or a difference I would suggest that they rent a bus, get on it and travel to the cities where these black people have been shot by the police. Stand in front of the city hall, the mayors office, the district attorneys office or the police department.
    *
    They might just find out that many of these agencies and the political offices are held by other black people. What a surprise and let down that would be for them.
    *
    Now if the really want to make a difference I would suggest that they put their money together and make a public service announcement that would pass along some very important suggestions to the minority community.
    *
    1. go to school and get an education
    *
    2. if you are stopped by the police do not, argue, do not refuse to follow lawful instructions, do not resist arrest, follow the officers directions and if you feel that you were stopped without justification then file a complaint.
    *
    I think that these people would rather have an argument with the white population than to do anything of any real substantive value.

    • Angedur says:

      Also, wear a body cam, put in a dashboard cam in the car and a few cams to monitor the outside and inside of house.

      Rarely will there be bad cops, but if so, their career is over when recorded.

  32. Angedur says:

    Millionaires complaining have no sympathy from me. The protests are about the thug culture. The so called protected class that are in minority of the population, feel that they can sass and be a on purpose jack ass, and now adays with syog, peeps aren't going to be pushed around and if feel threatened will shoot and open a huge can of wup ass.

    Solution? Don't be a thug.

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