I have been following the (original) NFL boycott for a few months. It would be easy to ignore since we don’t watch football, but it’s not about football, it’s about injustice and I wanted to address it with the kids.
We happened to go to an NFL pre-season game in August, and our 6-year old was super into it. She wanted to know all about EVERYTHING. From cheerleaders to rules. We touched on a lot of topics since she was being a sponge.
Why are those girls there? I just realized my 6-year old daughter had no idea what a cheerleader was. My husband used to work with a professional cheerleader, so he discussed how they actually aren’t paid that well in addition to other aspects, like sexualizing girls/women.
Why do only boys play football? That was a good one. We talked about how some sports are sometimes predominately played by one gender, but there were girls and women who played football at other levels. We even saw two girls wearing jerseys in a local homecoming parade last week. Jerseys being the key word, because other females were wearing t-shirts with the team name, and not jerseys with a name and number on them.
What are those signs? Ah, the advertising talk. Everything here is trying to sell you something. We pretty much leave it at that. Someone is always trying to make you want something so you’ll give them money.
Why don’t we watch football? That was an interesting one as well, as the list has added up! I enjoy watching football, but have never really cared enough to follow it. Besides the consumerism and the inappropriate commercials for children, the concussion and CTE controversy made it difficult to watch after my husband experienced a severe concussion from a biking accident. I was just increasingly uncomfortable with watching, to the point that seeing hits was giving me a visceral reaction.
With some of that background knowledge, and a nice assortment of books I had just gotten from the library, including some on Rosa Parks, it was easy to discuss the NFL boycott when our daughter had overheard it on the radio.
Our reading on Rosa Parks was perfectly timed, laying the groundwork for boycotting for social change.
These two books were similar in story layout, details, and language. The Zinn Education Project has a great article on teaching this subject to kids, and these two books seem to address a lot of the issues typically glossed over such as her involvement with the NAACP and how long the boycott lasted (over a year). The best part of this article is discussing that not every child can be the “hero” (Rosa Parks and now Colin Kaepernick), but it is easy to imagine being a participant in the boycott.
“As a tale of a social movement and a community effort to overthrow injustice, the Rosa Parks story opens the possibility of every child identifying herself or himself as an activist, as someone who can help make justice happen.”
It was an accessible way to discuss history and current events with a 6-year old. I plan on asking her if she knows what the word boycott means in the next few days.