So now personal choices have consequences?

Jul 26th

It's no secret that we live in a society today that does its very best to alleviate all expectations of personal responsibility. It's always someone else's fault. Not that such a perspective is unique to our culture by any stretch of the imagination.

The effort to dodge accountability for one's actions is ingrained in the human psyche dating back to the Garden of Eden. Adam attempted to blame Eve for his sin, then dialed it up a notch and put the blame on God. Eve echoed that approach blaming the serpent. And so it goes.

That's why whenever someone publicly declares that another person needs to bear the weight of their own choices and decisions, it tends to shock the conscience of a culture that is averse to any such expectation.

A few days ago, news broke that a coach for the NFL's Minnesota Vikings was fired after having refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine per league protocol.

Nobody doubts that the entire situation is a difficult one for all parties to navigate. The accumulating health data across the country shows a severe spike in cases, hospitalizations, and even deaths for the unvaccinated portion of the population. That concerning development led Alabama's Republican Governor Kay Ivey to have what can only be described as a frustrated and exasperated exchange with reporters recently.

So it's completely reasonable that a private sports league – whose entire revenue model depends on being able to put competitive teams on the field each week – would want to avoid the health and public relations disaster of having a COVID outbreak spread through their organizations.

It's also completely reasonable for a private citizen, regardless of their occupation, to oppose being compelled to put a foreign substance into their body in the form of a vaccine. With as miraculous as the vaccine results may be to this point, there is no denying that it is very much experimental in the sense that no one knows long-term efficacy and impacts that may or may not come from it.

The league has set their policy as best as they know how and individual coaches and players are reacting the best they know how. Just a day after Coach Dennison was relieved of his duties, the New England Patriots announced their own Offensive Line coach Cole Popovich would be out of work for the same reason.

As all this is unfolding, I saw one of my favorite sports media reporters, Mike Chappell, comment on the situation. I admit that with as much as I like Mike, his take struck me as odd:

As I mentioned before, personal choices do indeed have consequences, but our society loves to pretend otherwise. Specifically, the entire sports media complex, Chappell included, loved to pretend otherwise just a few years ago when another personal choice resulted in consequences.

When backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick chose to turn his own mere presence on a team's sideline into a public spectacle and media circus, they all decided he wasn't worth it. To be sure, if Kaepernick was better at actually performing on the field, at least some teams would have likely been willing to endure it all in order to sign him. Notice that plenty of NBA franchises would fall all over themselves to sign LeBron James despite his buffoonish antics and political activism.

But when Kaep made the personal choice to render himself a significant corporate liability – wearing shirts lionizing the murderous tyrant of Cuba, wearing socks that depicted police officers as pigs, claiming Iranian terrorist mastermind Qasem Soleimani was killed by an "American terrorist attack" because he was a "brown" person – a near unanimity of sports media types were furious that it came with consequences.

To hear them tell it, NFL teams were infringing on the underwhelming quarterback's right to free speech, punishing a black man for daring to speak against racism and oppression. Every time some team's quarterback situation would be less than desirable, sports media reporters would all start demanding answers as to why Colin Kaepernick was not being given an opportunity to play for them.

The answer was always easy and was always the same: personal choices have consequences. That's true whether you're willfully avoiding a vaccine or willfully turning yourself into a publicity clown for profit.


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