Count Brett Favre among those who don’t like his sports with a side of politics. Or, more accurately, a side of politics that doesn’t mesh with his side of politics.
“I know when I turn on a game, I want to watch a game,” Favre recently said in an appearance on The Daily Wire, via USA Today. “I want to watch players play and teams win, lose, come from behind. I want to watch all the important parts of the game, not what’s going on outside of the game, and I think the general fan feels the same way. . . . I can’t tell you how many people have said to me, ‘I don’t watch anymore; it’s not about the game anymore.’ And I tend to agree.”
It’s a tired and lazy take, frankly. When turning on a game, how much of it is really about something other than the game? He specifically complained about the issue of kneeling during the national anthem. That happens before the game even begins; in almost all cases, when you “turn on a game” you don’t even see it.
“It’s really a shame that we’ve come to this,” Favre said regarding the kneeling controversy. “Something has to unify us, and I felt like the flag, standing patriotically — because Blacks and whites and Hispanics have fought for this country and died for this country. It’s too bad.”
Favre, along with many others, fail to realize that the forced show of patriotism before a sporting event constitutes an inherently political act, and that some in attendance (including participants) may not share those feelings. It’s not a problem for him, however, because he agrees with it. Some would say there’s nothing more American than American citizens exercising their rights, and it’s uniquely American for American athletes exercising their First Amendment prerogative to take unpopular positions in a public setting.
But if Favre (who made an endorsement in the 2020 presidential election despite his only relevance to the national discourse coming from sports) wants to separate sports and politics, let’s go all the way. No national anthem at all before games. No flags flying in the stadium. No pre-game flyovers or other subtle (or otherwise) military recruiting messages, like the Salute to Service program. Definitely no paid military tributes. No first pitches thrown by politicians.
All of those things carry clear or at least subtle political messages. To truly separate politics and sports means to eradicate each of them.
Favre and others who don’t like certain protests, displays, or messages wouldn’t want that. They’re fine with political viewpoints and gestures that they agree with, and they don’t care if there are some Americans who see those things and, based on their own unique experiences as Americans, don’t feel the same way.
Favre’s concern sweeps more broadly than politics, however. He said that when he turns on the game “it’s not about the game anymore.” And to the extent that it’s sometimes about an aging, married, future Hall of Fame quarterback sending inappropriate text messages to a team employee and then lying when questioned about it by the NFL, well, he’s right.