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12/29/2017 7:11:00 PM
COMMENTARY: NFL anthem protest refunds? An Indiana lawmaker's snowflake moment

Dave Bangert, Journal and Courier Columnist

LAFAYETTE – In the world of the ridiculous, there’s always Sports Illustrated’s weekly “Sign of the Apocalypse.”

Last week’s edition: “A Louisiana man has sued the Saints, seeking a refund for his season tickets and attorney’s fees because, he argues, the player demonstrations during the national anthem caused his tickets to lose their entertainment value.”

If SI had waited a week, the Sign of the Apocalypse could have been a tick more absurd, shifting to the Indiana Statehouse.

There, state Rep. Milo Smith, R-Columbus, made news this week by proposing that fans offended by Indianapolis Colts players who kneel during “The Star-Spangled Banner” should be able to skip the lawsuit and get a straight-up refund at a Lucas Oil Stadium ticket window by the end of the first quarter.

Whether Smith’s proposal will see the light of day – the Indiana General Assembly’s 2018 session starts Jan. 3 – isn’t clear.

Whether Smith’s bill is close to constitutional is doubtful. (Jane Henegar, ACLU Indiana executive director, told The Indianapolis Star: “In effect by passing the law, government would be weighing in … and fining political speech by the Indianapolis Colts. … It seems like the worst thing that could happen is government weighing in and trying to control in any direction the political speech of private actors.”)

What is clear is that Smith – like many NFL fans this season – was offended when players knelt during the national anthem as a statement about what they saw as the imbalance of racial justice and equality in the United States. (Noted: The trend, started in 2016, picked up steam in 2017, fanned by incendiary tweets from President Donald Trump in early season games this year.)

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