Column: In search of that perfect boycott

I’ve never formally committed to any boycott.

It’s a word that gets tossed around whenever one segment of society feels slighted for whatever reason, some justified, some not so much. History provides plenty of examples of famous boycotts that brought real change for the good of society. The Montgomery Bus Boycott from Dec. 5, 1955, to Dec. 20, 1956, began four days after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery bus. Ms. Parks’ act of defiance helped spark the civil rights movement. Other boycotts, such as the U.S. refusing to compete at the 1980 Moscow Olympics due to the USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan, yielded unsatisfactory results.

Calls for boycotts have seemed to dominate the news cycle recently. As nearly everyone is aware, the drama surrounding the NFL and player protests during the national anthem has sparked myriad calls for boycotts. President Trump ignited the controversy two weeks ago when he called for a boycott of the NFL unless all players stood for the anthem.

Most recently, ESPN host Jemele Hill suggested on Twitter that it’s up to fans to spark change by impacting advertisers; the burden can’t fall entirely on players. Her comments were a reference to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ threat that any players who refused to stand during the anthem would not play. Her comments were viewed as calling for a boycott, although she clarified in a later message that she was not advocating for a boycott. Ms. Hill was suspended by ESPN, which drew a new batch of boycotts.

On Tuesday, the Rev. Al Sharpton threatened to organize a boycott of ESPN advertisers over Ms. Hill’s suspension.

Got all that?

If you feel your head spinning, you’re not the only one.

I won’t debate the merits of the anthem protests here; feel free to flip on Fox News if you crave more of that. I will say, though, I have no current intention of boycotting the NFL, ESPN or its advertisers.

But all this talk of boycotts has me thinking there must be something out there worth taking a stand on.

I opened Google and started searching. The search engine is great at guiding you along in a search, filling in text as you start to type. For example, when I type “boycott,” the first suggestion that pops up is ‘boycott NFL.’

So I decided to pop around to see what people are searching to boycott. The results were interesting.

The first result under the letter A is “boycott Amazon.” I rely way too much on speedy deliveries of anything and everything by Amazon to ever consider a boycott. Sorry. Next.

The next letter led with “boycott B&H.” Apparently this boycott started over the electronics retailer’s alleged exploitation of workers who were to lose their jobs when the company moved its warehouse. Sounds like a worthy cause, but I had never heard of the company, so it’s hard to participate in a real boycott.

Some people simply want to know what a boycott is. The first result for the letter D is “boycott definition.” For the letter M, it’s “boycott meaning.” It helps to know what a boycott is before beginning.

The letter G started with “boycott Google.” But how do I keep searching if I boycott Google? That simply won’t work.

The letter H surprised me. “Boycott Hamilton,” the widely popular Broadway show, had dropped to fifth. You’ll remember the hoopla last November when Vice President-elect Mike Pence saw the show and the cast used the opportunity to call for the incoming administration to uphold American values for all people. Some took that as Mr. Pence being “harassed” and called for a boycott of the show. A quick glance on StubHub shows tickets for the show starting at no cheaper than $300. So it appears the boycott has since fizzled.

The second result under the letter K is “boycott Knicks.” As a lifelong Knicks fan, I’ve come too far to ever turn back. I’ll still be a fan through decades more of losing and dysfunction.

For the letter U, the first result is “boycott Uber.” I understand the company may not be the best, but who can argue with the convenience of a ride one click away? I’m not giving up Uber yet.

The letter V begins with “boycott Verizon.” I’ve seen the cell service AT&T has, so you better believe I’m sticking with Verizon.

One of the top results for the letter E, after ESPN of course, is “boycott everything.”

Now that I think about it, I’m ready to just boycott boycotts.

The author is the editor of the Riverhead News-Review and The Suffolk Times. He can be reached at 631-354-8049 or [email protected].