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I’m not saying for one second that they should stop all of the military moments, I realise that this is really important to some people for a variety of reasons. But, as I sat there at the Buffalo Bills v Jacksonville Jaguars match a few weeks ago, I couldn’t help but feel a slight sense of unease creeping over me, because so much of the pre-match activity is focused on the military, in one way or the other.
And it has been similar in other matches that I’ve been to. To be fair, it’s not quite as extreme as those shows of military might that we sometimes see on the telly, parading out of Russia, China or North Korea. But to me it does feel like a bit too much. Whether it’s video diaries of soldiers in Afghanistan, soldiers marching and unfurling flags, soldiers being commended for various acts of selfless bravery, a chinook flyover or a soldier ringing a massive bell. I think this is to signal the start of the match.
Now, just to be really clear, I’m not saying get rid of all of it. I understand that a large proportion of the NFL watching audience are really into this stuff. I just think there’s a real opportunity to celebrate other things too. Like charities, volunteers and individuals who’ve done things other than killed other people (I know, I know…there’s a lot more to the military than just that).
At this particular game, the commentator mentioned ‘freedom’ and the fight for it on more than one occasion. And that pops up in the American national anthem a bit too. To me, freedom means (amongst many other things) that people are free to choose to do things other than join the military, and that is definitely worth celebrating as well.