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Why we leave the comments on at Niners Nation

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The past weekend was rather rough in the comments here at Niners Nation. Following Donald Trump’s comments about NFL protests, reaction was swift, and something we covered over throughout the weekend, and into this week. At times, the comments reflected the heightened emotions currently in the country.

The National Anthem protests started 13 months ago with Colin Kaepernick, and we have covered the topic in detail since then. Throughout this time, we have generally left the comments open for discussion. At times it is impressive how rational the discourse has been. At times, it has gotten ugly.

Niners Nation is a San Francisco 49ers blog, but over the past 13 months, we have delved deeply into issues that are at best tangentially connected to the 49ers. I have received complaints from readers about mixing politics and sports, and I have received compliments about how we have handled the situation dating back to Colin Kaepernick’s first noticed protest.

The reason we continue to write about this topic and also leave the comments open is because I view this as an incredibly important discussion that needs to be had. People talk about not mixing politics and sports, but that boat sailed long ago. We can point to the obvious things like Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier, or John Carlos and Tommie Smith making a black power salute at the Olympics. We can talk about the paid patriotism that became a regular occurrence at sporting events. The point is that politics and sports have long been intermingled.

The comments here at NN in anything related to these protests have regularly had a mix of intelligent discourse, insult-slinging, and of course, topic-changing where possible. People talk about wanting to come to NN to avoid the stress of the world. I get that, but I also see this topic as too important to avoid. The conversations are going to be messy, and likely will remain messy for a long time, but these are conversations that we have to have.

There will continue to be extensive disagreement, but I would rather have heated disagreement than pretend nothing is going on in the world around us. I know there are readers who do not agree with my beliefs, and I have made it clear I disagree with the beliefs of some in the comments. It can get heated, but I strongly believe there is more to be gained from passionate disagreement than plugging our ears and ignoring the world around us.

There will be insults heaped upon each other and feelings hurt fairly regularly. Our moderators will continue to do their best to keep this a respectful discussion. Personal insults will not be tolerated. We have not been perfect in this arena, and I understand the criticisms, and remain open to discussing how we handle the process here. But we will continue to allow for this kind of discussion. None of us have handled this perfectly, including yours truly. But it is critical that we continue to have these kind of frank, uncomfortable discussions.