ON KAEPERNICK AND ANTHEM ETIQUETTE

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In 1990, San Diego Padres owner Tom Werner (an ABC television executive) thought it would be a bright idea to bring Roseanne Barr in to sing the national anthem before the second game of a doubleheader. A local radio station promoted the event as ‘Working Women’s Night’.

What occurred was predictable. Knowing Barr’s role as a top comedian of the day, her performance met expectations – complete with a spit and crotch grab at the end.

I attended that game and for two innings myself and others around me talked about what we had witnessed, and wondered if it would be mentioned in the postgame radio coverage. Ultimately I concentrated on the game and forgot about Roseanne and wrote her off for what she is.

Then I turned on the car radio for the short drive home.

“The Padres swept a doubleheader, but I think that is not what we will be talking about.”

Made it home in time for the 11 p.m. news. One station started with an ongoing sensationalized local murder case. The other two opened with Roseanne Barr.

I scanned the radio to hear Barr being talked nationally and realized the instant media firestorm, long before the internet and social media. The next day President George Herbert Walker Bush chimed in and called out Roseanne.

Which leads us to Colin Kaepernick’s antics, when he sat the anthem to protest the recent social climate of racial unrest.

What will the San Francisco 49ers do – fire him? His $12.3 million salary for 2016 became vested in April just for being on the roster. That makes staging a protest a little easier, even if it overshadows his football exploits from 2012-13.

Kaepernick, who reportedly converted to Islam, has been debated plenty on social media. Former NBA player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (Chris Jackson) also protested against the anthem during his career.

Yes, there is the First Amendment and freedom of speech, but sit the national anthem at your own peril.

Like his commercial where he faces angry faux-Seattle fans throwing bananas (just to get the racial angle in) and everything else as he sits on the team bus, I guess Kaepernick puts on the headphones and tunes everything out.

Most of us know the drill attending an event. Someone who keeps a hat on when the anthem hears about it. I attended a game last fall when bumped from behind during the anthem by someone holding his son trying to reach his seat.

He would hear about it immediately.

“Disrespectful!”, a fan said.

I saw both sides, it was bad timing. It was a parent concerned that his son remained safe.

Over the years I have tried to be careful with this etiquette. In a concourse most stop movement when the anthem is played. Activity also ceases at  concession stands and ticket windows. Many do not know that when a color guard is involved they should remain standing after until they walk off the field and retire the colors.

When LeBron James wants to wear ‘I Can’t Breathe’ shirts during warmups or a WNBA team refuses to answer basketball questions at a postgame press conference or if St. Louis Rams players emerge from the tunnel with hands up gestures to protest happenings in nearby Ferguson, they have made their point. Pro athletes can make a statement provided they don’t cross a line. How many people in other professions can keep their jobs by doing or saying something that disrupts the workplace.

Dissing the anthem is not worth the trouble.Many wondered if Kaepernick would dare repeat for the regular season opener, when most teams play on the 15th anniversary of something called 9/11. The 49ers happen to play at home on Monday night, Sept. 12.

Considering the distraction caused in his own locker room along with rapidly declining play on the field, there is a good chance Kaepernick will not be active that night.

But he just likes to hear what he wants to hear.

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BYU FOOTBALL FUTURE MAY BE BLEAK

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Some fighting between Brigham Young and the Memphis Tigers breaks out following the NCAA football game at the Miami Beach Bowl, Monday, Dec. 22, 2014. At front is Kai Nacua (12) of Brigham Young.

When LGBT lobbyists succeeded in getting the National Basketball Association to move the 2017 All-Star Game out of North Carolina, it could be surmised that the trickle-down effect would expand to other entities under the PC microscope.

That bodes trouble for Brigham Young University’s football and athletic program.

In terms of football and basketball success and prestige, BYU remains as qualified as any candidate to join one of the ‘Power Five’ conferences, and considered throughout the summer as a top candidate  to join the Big XII Conference.

For geographic and athletic reasons, the University of Houston and University of Cincinnati have jumped to the top of most projections. Houston is a major city with likely support from the conferences six Texas and Oklahoma entries. Cincinnati is also a media market and gives the University of West Virginia a geographic partner.

These two schools could be added and the Big XII could rightfully say it is nothing personal against BYU’s policies.

But it does not help that lobbyists have predictably targeted against BYU and have lobbied against against the Mormon school’s Big XII inclusion.

Than what?

BYU could swallow its pride, point towards its unique brand and following and continue its existence as a ‘mid-major.’

But the situation could get worse before it gets better. In year number six as an independent, football scheduling has become more difficult – especially in bringing quality opponents for home games. The 2016 schedule at LaVell Edwards Stadium includes the following.

  • Sept. 17 v. UCLA
  • Sept 30 v. Toledo (Friday night/LDS conference weekend)
  • Oct. 14 v. Mississippi State
  • November home games against FCS Southern Utah, fellow independent Massachusetts and Utah State.

Other than getting UCLA along with a SEC team smack in the middle of their conference season, there is little to offer. 2017 includes home dates with Utah, Wisconsin and Boise State while Cal highlights four home games slated so far for 2018.

BYU’s next ‘hope’ to land in a major conference could come if the college football landscape shifts to four 16-team conferences in the mid 2020s. But would the ‘Pac-16’ or Big Ten show interest in the Cougars then? History says no.

At some point BYU could attempt to crawl back to the Mountain West, where Boise State can provide a legitimate rival. But if lobbyists can keep the school out of the Big XII, why not lobby against the MWC, Sun Belt or any other conference.

The politics can expand to those who schedule BYU non-conference. Would it be a shock if Wisconsin decided to take a second look at its scheduled home-and-home for 2017-18? Wisconsin already has a policy not to schedule schools with politically incorrect names.

As an independent BYU gets automatic bids to various bowls provided the team is bowl eligible. In 2016 the Cougars would earn a bid to the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego, last year the school played in the Las Vegas Bowl. But could bowl games shun BYU in future years? The football team’s conduct in a postgame brawl v. Memphis after a bowl game in 2014 serves as a black mark.

It may not seem fair. Notre Dame’s culture could be viewed in a simila vain, a dozen compared to BYU’s 12. But Notre Dame established itself as a major football brand more than 100 years ago. No one is going to kick the Irish out now.

In recent years sports was surprisingly dropped at BYU-Hawaii and BYU-Idaho (which once had a strong JUCO program). Ten years from now, the end game may see BYU’s flagship campus dropping football and remaining with like-minded schools in the West Coast Conference in other sports.

Unthinkable, but possible.