The concept is a relatively simple one. It’s called deterrence. Deterrence is defined as “the action of discouraging an action or event through instilling doubt or fear of the consequences.” This makes perfect sense in terms of discouraging bad or harmful behavior. Anti-drunk driving or texting while driving campaigns examples of relatively universal and innocuous deterrence efforts which highlight the dangerous effects of such behavior. Boycott efforts are often deterrent in nature, meant to send a message to not only the object of the boycott, but to others who may be inclined to engage in the same behavior deemed unacceptable. Shannon Sharpe of Fox Sports One’s Undisputed was correct in assessing NFL owners’ core message.
There are times, however, when such deterrent efforts become sinister and inappropriate. One of those instances is in response to a noble or fundamentally just cause. This is why there are laws protecting whistleblowers, or those who file discrimination complaints, from retaliation by those against whom they are complaining or about whom they are revealing information. Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest against racism in America was indeed a noble and just one as racism in the United States is a substantive, important issue.
History has provided us with several unsavory examples of the consequences to Black people when we challenge racism. Slave masters sought to break any slaves who exhibited the slightest hint of rebellion to their unjust status in life, lest others themselves become emboldened. Clearly NFL owners want other players to see what the consequences could be should they find themselves contemplating making any similar gestures in the 2017 NFL season. Some owners have already admitted to how much they hate Kaepernick because of his protest. This is simply a classic case of petty, weak, yet powerful racist white men and women bringing to bear their wrath upon Blacks who have failed to demonstrate that they know their place.