by Lynn Woolley
James Ragland, a columnist for the Dallas Morning News, is a thoughtful guy, but he leans left on matters of race. Daniel Henninger is the lead conservative columnist at the Wall Street Journal. Writing about the kneeling controversy in the NFL, they might as well be on different planets. The headline of Ragland’s piece is:
Henninger’s piece is headlined:
Ragland sees the NFL as a platform to make a statement about what he sees as wrong with America – namely racism. Henninger, who is white, prefers the on-field conduct of baseball players who do not make a scene after scoring. Baseball, he says, is about baseball. Ragland is of that group that sees pro football as being based on the use of “bodies of black men.” Henninger wants the politics out. America is truly divided. 
Ragland makes his points.
Ragland is saying that, since the NFL fights breast cancer, it should likewise fight racism and inequality. What Ragland doesn’t get is that the NFL’s deal with breast cancer is “cause marketing.” The NFL uses this cause to create good will, and so it chooses a charity that it thinks few people will disagree with. Cancer – all of it – is something we all want to fight.
But racism is in the eye of the beholder. We no longer live in the 60’s, and life is now about the choices we make rather than codified racism. Nevertheless, Ragland is adamant in his support of the kneeling players:
The fight against racism and injustice is righteous, too. And, especially in a league that relies so heavily on the bodies of black men for its revenue, that fight should be just as visible and unifying [as the fight against breast cancer]. But what the NFL is doing now — the carefully orchestrated effort to blunt public criticism over players taking a knee during the national anthem by concocting self-serving schemes — isn’t an act of patriotism.
Ragland can’t see the forest for the trees. The NFL is sports entertainment. The owners are running their businesses. When their employees act up before or during a game, they may see their businesses suffer.
But with 70 percent of the employees being black, and most of those in solidarity with the cause, the owners have tried to thread the needle. That, naturally, makes everybody mad.
Ragland also misses this fact: the players have succeeded wildly in this “racist” county – as has Ragland himself. Ragland made it all the way to being a fulltime columnist for a major metropolitan newspaper. That’s a pretty good gig.
Henninger makes his points.
The Wall Street Journal writer isn’t buying anything that Ragland is selling.
Baseball has an informal code of on-field conduct, which has held for a hundred years. The NFL doesn’t seem to have an enforceable code of anything. Last Sunday, after the New York Giants’ wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. caught a touchdown pass, Mr. Beckham got down in the end zone and imitated a dog urinating on a fire hydrant, which the opposing Philadelphia Eagles (who won) took as mockery of their team. From Babe Ruth 90 years ago to Aaron Judge now, when you hit a home run, you run around the bases and into the dugout. That’s it. No end-zone antics that suggest the sport itself takes a back seat to a personality.
Baseball stars have made headlines about being juiced up on steroids – but, other than that, Henninger is right. There is no hotdogging in baseball, no antics like what we saw from Odell Beckham Jr. – a guy I would just as soon not subsidize with my ticket money.
Henninger also talks about the humility that is acquired by baseball players because most of them go into minor league teams at first – and they play before tiny crowds in smaller markets. That may explain why they seem more concentrated on the on-field product than do NFL players that take a knee.
Henninger concludes that anyone is free to demand that sports figures provide an affirmation of their own political beliefs – but he doesn’t want that. If people agree with him, baseball will gain fans as the NFL bleeds them. 
I feel that way about Hollywood and recording stars.
Just shut up and sing.
You may know that I play oldies at various restaurants and wine bars around Central Texas. You may think that do political monologues between songs. I do not. I play music, I have a good time, and I hope the crowd is entertained. My radio show is the place for me to express political viewpoints.
There is a time and a place for everything – even politics and protests. That time is NOT during the Star Spangled Banner before an NFL game. That simply does substantial damage to the League, and further divides an already divided country.