'Ballers,' starring Dwayne Johnson, returns to HBO for Season 4 on Sunday.

By Khadrice Rollins
August 08, 2018

When Ballers returns for its fourth season this Sunday at 10 p.m. ET, the show will pick up right where it left off in a semi-fictional world that very closes resembles the actual current state of the NFL.

The HBO original has found a way to touch on almost every pressing issue in today’s NFL while also addressing common troupes that play out every year within the league. From working in a storyline about the Raiders moving to Las Vegas to showing how veteran players deal with free agency at the end of their careers, the show has attempted to provide insight into many of the most interesting topics surrounding the game.

There has also been a consistent effort to present all parts of NFL culture, including the ugly ones. Like showing the damage football takes on the body and examining how former players deal with treating old injuries and the potential issues that can come from that, such as an addiction to painkillers.

Marijuana was another topic of discussion on the show, as it looked at the potential medical benefits and the booming economic market that is being created as the substance slowly gets legalized across the country in contrast to how NFL players are still prohibited from using marijuana for any reason and could face suspension.

If Season 4 wants to really separate itself from the rest of the series though, it is time for the show to examine the most political issue in the NFL right now: the national anthem.

It’s been two full regular seasons since Colin Kaepernick first kneeled to protest police brutality and racial injustice in the United States, and it will be interesting to see what aspects of that protest and its backlash get more of a focus in this upcoming season.

Whether its players like Kaepernick and Eric Reid potentially getting blackballed from the league for protesting, the President condemning players who protest and pushing for them to lose their jobs, or just the general team dynamics that can come into play such as the Cowboys saying that no players are allowed protest or stay in the locker room during the anthem, there are plenty of intricacies within the conversation that can be brought to light and explored further.

Maybe there could be a subplot that looks at the way NFL players are responding to the protests and dissects all the factors guys think about and discuss before deciding if they would want to join in. Or maybe it could be about how fans have reacted to the form of protest and the new rules created around it, and the show could delve into how the protests impacted the popularity of the game and how they could potentially dampen or aid the popularity of individual players. The show could also explore how athletes across sports are reacting to the controversy surrounding the anthem in relation to how NFL players are forced to deal with it.

It is a polarizing topic that just about everybody in the United States has weighed in on, including other television shows. The writers have had tons of time to think about what would be the best and worst ways to approach the subject, and now that it has become arguably the biggest story in the NFL, it will be telling to see how they decide to address it.

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