The latest controversy in the world of sports emanates from our area, as Tampa Bay Buccaneers player Mike Evans sat during the playing of the national anthem prior to the Bucs beating the Chicago Bears 36-10. Later, Evans told reporters he sat to protest Donald Trump being elected president the prior Tuesday.
What’s interesting about the gesture is that Evans, a third year pro out of Texas A&M, didn’t vote in the election.
Local politicians, such as Florida state senator Jack Latvala, have expressed outage, with Latvala vowing not to go to Bucs games until Evans is either removed from the team or apologizes.
Personally, I feel that Mr. Evans has the right to express himself as he chooses. I voted for Trump, but if someone wants to protest it, I’m fine with it as long as such a protest obeys the recognized laws wherever the protests take place. If the protests get disorderly, I feel law enforcement is absolutely within their rights to make arrests as needed.
My issue is with the Buccaneers team itself, who went on record Sunday night saying that they, as a team, support the gesture. I don’t think it’s the team’s place to make a stand one way or the other. A lot of veterans and members of the military go to these games, with Macdill Air Force Base just down the road a few miles from Raymond James Stadium. If the vets were to follow Latvala’s lead and boycott, that’s a lot of team revenue going out the door, causing the franchise to perhaps continue their malaise. That might lead to the Bucs calling another city their home some day, like St. Louis, Las Vegas, or maybe even London.
Divisiveness is now deeply entrenched in our society, and the events in the sporting world are an example of that.
(EDIT, 11/15, 10:38am: Evans released a statement right about the time I put this blog entry up saying that he will stand for the national anthem next week.)