Breaking: Dale Earnhart Jr. Backs Athletes’ Protests

I give up. 

I was planning to ignore the NFL protests. Why? As regular readers will know, I despise the NFL and pro football, considering both to be mainly a fiendishly successful ongoing racist plot to find and destroy many of the best and most promising youths of color year after year. and persuade too many other persons of color to cheer it on.

You ask me, the KKK couldn’t have cooked up a more thoroughly and successfully racist scheme.

I’m not surprised that millions of whites cheer themselves  hoarse watching so many strong young back men bashing their brains out on live TV. But really, why should anyone who believes “Black Lives Matter” join the shouting?

Well anyway, in the midst of this orgy of youthful self-destruction, the kneeling, fist-raising & other athlete protests are clearly a great thing, maybe the only positive contribution I can see the game is making to our society today. Even if Colin Kaepernick never plays another NFL game, he’s secured a place in American history.

And the power of what he started is undeniable: when it gets the goat of the jackass in the White House, and exposes (yet again) the racist underside of his attitudes — what’s not to like, even for  a curmudgeon like me?

Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in, 1960.

The obnoxious, vulgar character of so much of the opposition reminds me of nothing so much as the segregationist assaults on the similarly dignified sit-ins at segregated lunch counters which began in Greensboro NC in 1960, They too were polite, peaceful, and — yes — patriotic.

And like the Greensboro protests, the NFL-spawned movement is spreading, to the most unlikely places. No, not the NBA — well, yes, the NBA, but that’s not really a surprise; we already knew those guys could  talk some smack. 

Oakland Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell lays his major league baseball career on the line. Let’s hope he has some backup soon.

More stunning, it’s even jumped the whitewashed wall that surrounds Major League baseball, with its nearly all-white fan base. Hats off to Oakland’s Bruce Maxwell: today he’s a lonely hero; I hope his solitude does not last long.

But even more stunning to me is that one of the biggest voices in NASCAR has now joined this chorus. NASCAR’s roots are sunk about as deep as you can get in the white South, and Confederate regalia is still widely seen in its precincts. Further, its rulers have taken a hard line against the protests.

A not untypical display at NASCAR’s Daytona track, 2015. The sport’s rulers have “asked” fans to chill on the rebel regalia; the response has often been, well, rebellious.

But Dale Earnhart Jr., son of NASCAR’s most famous early driver and a multiple-championship winner himself, has defied the NASCAR barons by tweeting support for the protests.

 

 

 

 

 

Earnhart has said 2017 will be his last season, and he’s reported to be worth $300 million, so he’s beyond the disciplinary reach of the other NASCAR overseers. And as he was crowned the Most Popular NASCAR Driver for 14 seasons, his opinion can’t help but be influential.

The late great comedian Dick Gregory once joked about the Woolworth protests that, “I sat in at a lunch counter for nine months. When they finally integrated, they didn’t have what I wanted.”

For that  matter, both lunch lunch counters and Woolworth’s are pretty much history now. But as Gregory well knew, the protests that started there were about a lot more than a sandwich, and their impact reverberated far beyond the aisles of old-time department stores. 

I’m figuring this athlete’s protest movement is, or soon will  be, about a lot more than variously-shaped balls, or driving around a track a few hundred times. Plus, the bad-tempered shouts from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will only add fuel to their peaceful but  blazing fire. And if, like the old lunch counters, NFL football (and NASCAR) are on the slide today, boosting this struggle for justice could be one of the best swan songs such bigtime sports could offer the country that made them what they have been.

So drop to that knee, then play ball, and let’s roll. 

 

3 thoughts on “Breaking: Dale Earnhart Jr. Backs Athletes’ Protests”

  1. Golf was once called the rich man’s game. It is still perceived that way, but change will come. Tiger Woods won’t be only person of color in the game. The heroes of being unfairly treated are those who perservered…white and black..in baseball and other white only sports events. I am hopeful that both players and fans will have diversity. As an 88 year old great=grandmother my concerns are for the safety of young athletes…from the violence that has increased in football and the need not only for safer equipment but the mental maturity of clean, fair play which is the way it “used” to be.

  2. Chuck, Minor quibble, I think that particular lunch counter photo is not Greensboro. I think it’s either Nashville or Mississippi.

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