Few things can upstage Peyton Manning in the NFL. But as we’ve repeatedly seen this season, a growing cultural divide of our national politics continues to overshadow our national pastime, and it did again on Sunday.
Vice President Mike Pence and his wife were at Lucas Oil Stadium for the Indianapolis Colts hosting the San Francisco 49ers. The former Indiana governor came to watch Manning be honored in a halftime ceremony. Except Pence didn’t stick around to see it. After the national anthem, Pence left the stadium and tweeted about his departure.
“I left today’s Colts game because President Trump and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem,” Pence wrote. “At a time when so many Americans are inspiring our nation with their courage, resolve, and resilience, now, more than ever, we should rally around our Flag and everything that unites us.”
“While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I don’t think it’s too much to ask NFL players to respect the Flag and our National Anthem,” he continued. “I stand with President Trump, I stand with our soldiers, and I will always stand for our Flag and National Anthem.”
Seemingly, everyone did feel entitled to an opinion, and almost instantly Pence became the number one trending topic on social media, with the help of a tweet from President Trump: “I asked @VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country. I am proud of him and @SecondLady Karen.”
Do We Want the Administration Tracking Players?
Here’s the problem with many liberals on this issue: They’ll attack Trump’s administration for tweeting about the NFL, arguing it’s inconsequential compared to more pressing presidential matters. Yet they expect that same administration to have a detailed tally of every team and player participating in the protests.
Critics pointed out many 49ers have knelt over the past five weeks, and Pence should have known that going into the game. Sorry. I’m not expecting the vice president to have a fantasy football line-up of anthem kneelers. Simply tweeting disapproval requires little effort, and the majority of Americans share that sentiment. A recent poll by Reuters showed 58 percent of respondents believe NFL players should be required to stand for the national anthem.
Furthermore, the vice president of this country has every right to perceive the protests as disrespect to the flag. Not only is Pence first in line to run this country should anything happen to President Trump, he is also father to an active-duty Marine Corps officer. Pence’s son Michael may one day risk his life to protect this nation. The least NFL players can do is stand in respect of the brave men and women, like Michael, willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Now Liberals Care about Government Spending
The same liberals eager to increase taxes on government programs all of a sudden became fiscal conservation experts over Pence’s appearance in Indianapolis. Throw some conspiracy theory in as well, and there you have it: Pence’s trip was a political stunt at the waste of taxpayer dollars.
First of all, the intent of the trip was to pay respect to Manning. Who cares whether Pence stayed for 30 minutes or three hours. It shouldn’t matter how long a government official is in attendance. In fact, an early departure likely means the overall costs are reduced. If you’re going to argue a sporting event is a frivolous expenditure, especially in lieu of Puerto Rico disaster relief, then that’s a reasonable standard. However, Pence is not the first, nor will he be the last, elected official to enjoy a taxpayer-funded trip of athletic leisure.
Former President Barack Obama went to at least a dozen sporting events during his eight-year tenure. In fact, he attended so many Sports Illustrated documented the “best.” The same Democrats who championed Obama as a “cool” president and good uncle for watching the NCAA women’s basketball tournament with his brother-in-law in 2012 now think White House officials are wasting taxpayer money at sporting events.
Taxpayers also funded Obama’s security detail when he sat courtside for the Chicago Bulls season opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2015. But hey, Obama was a huge Bulls fan. No big deal, that’s just water under the economic bridge, apparently.
Former Vice President Joe Biden attended Philadelphia sporting events numerous times, including an Eagles game last September to honor the 15th anniversary of 9/11. Biden stood for the anthem alongside first responders in a proper demonstration of respect.
So please, stop with the fake outrage over taxpayer dollars in selective instances. Our current vice president is no different than his predecessor. Pence attended a professional football game, stood for the anthem, and held firm in his beliefs. If you ardently defend NFL players’ right to protest, then understand viewers can protest as well—even if those viewers are elected officials.