If you are complaining that the wave of peaceful demonstrations across the NFL by players, coaches and owners is a “distraction,” it's because you're angry football can no longer “distract” you from racial inequity and divisive political rhetoric.
If you are complaining about this being a “distraction,” you probably have been afforded the prior luxury of being able to turn away from such things.
If you are complaining about this being a “distraction,” you are yelling – or booing, or trolling on social media – without listening to the reasons these men kneel, or lock arms, or remain inside the locker room while the anthem plays.
If you are complaining about this being a “distraction,” you only care about how these men can produce for you. You only care about how many points they put up for you as you curate them on your fantasy football roster. You do not care about the very real, very human conversations these men have with their families, friends and teammates every day. You do not care about how they see the world; but only about what they can provide for you as they exist in it.
If you are complaining – presumptuously – that the Carolina Panthers are “distracted” because of some players’ desire to have a conversation of this manner with their owner, then you do not qualify them as human beings worthy of that very dialogue afforded to every American by the constitution.
If you are complaining that this “distraction” is the reason the Panthers were blown out by New Orleans (a team that, by the way, featured several players who knelt during the anthem) last weekend, then you shouldn't be a football fan anyway, considering you don't know a thing about it.
If you are complaining about all of this being a “distraction,” consider this:
All 32 NFL teams are having the same conversation across the league. This was demonstrated during every single game in every single time slot and on two continents all day Sunday and Monday night.
So no, having a conversation about free speech and expression, about racial inequity, about police violence, about the condemnation of being referred to by the president as a “son of a bitch” for peacefully and consistently expressing opinion, is not a “distraction.”
Every team is having it.
How that conversation is or is not being handled by coaches, and specifically in Charlotte, by team owners - that is the distraction.