We here at Tribunist are uniformly patriotic. We may not agree with the actions of over-paid athletes who demonstrate unsportsmanlike like behavior by stealing focus from the celebration of our National Anthem, but we’d all stand up and fight for their right of free speech. But the same protections afforded by the First Amendment extend to sponsors, too.
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Brandon Marshall of the Denver Broncos has found this out the hard way. After he took a knee during the national anthem, it cost him at least one sponsor.
“Although we have enjoyed Brandon Marshall as our spokesperson over the past five months, Air Academy Federal Credit Union (AAFCU) has ended our partnership,” Glenn Strebe, the AAFCU’s president and CEO wrote in a Facebook statement. “AAFCU is a membership-based organization who has proudly served the military community for over 60 years. While we respect Brandon’s right of expression, his actions are not a representation of our organization and membership. We wish Brandon well on his future endeavors.”
So there it is. The sponsorship is minor, for sure. And yet pulling even one sponsorship may have more impact–symbolically–as Marshall taking a knee during the anthem.
The question remains. As athletes around the country make their protests, and media outlets give them way too much air-time (as I’m doing now), is this sportsmanlike? Is this the right venue for the protests? This is, at least in this case, the National Football League.
No one would care if these various mid-tier athletes protested whatever injustice, or stood behind any cause off the field. In fact, so many athletes do. NFL players especially have a long standing tradition of community outreach and philanthropic giving. But to simply stay seated on the sidelines, knowing full-well that this will guarantee every camera in the stadium will be focused on you–well…