Fans Booing NFL Season Opener Moment of Unity Perfectly Reflects the Worst of America
Some football fans were unabashed in their intolerance of player advocacy
Racism has been a hot topic in the United States in 2020. After a number of high-profile deaths of Black people at the hands of police, protests and wide-spread re invigoration of social justice have swept across the country. Many organizations, including the NFL, have stepped up to announce their willingness to be more supportive, if not more vocal, of such efforts. However, when professional football kicked off their season in a game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans on September 10th, a moment of unity held between the two franchises after the playing of the national anthem was booed by the Kansas City crowd — a action which perfectly encapsulates the worst of America at this moment in time.
Before the game, the national anthem was performed, per the usual. The Chiefs stood on the sideline while the Texans remained in their locker room until the song had subsided. Both teams then met at midfield and locked arms in what was described as a moment of unity and silence dedicated to the fight for equality. As this unfolded, a chorus of boos were audible from the stands. Despite booing unity and equality being on about the same level as booing babies and Santa Claus, there was no apparent shame in the overt display of disrespect.
Houston Head Coach Bill O’Brien was confused when questioned about the booing. “I thought that that was a nice thing to do, so I’m not sure why they would boo that.”
The reaction of the fans was rather predictable, unfortunately. As professional athletes have become increasingly involved in social justice and anti-racism in recent years, criticism against their participation has grown exponentially. There are those who want athletes to just shut up and play, while others have gone a step further and strongly voiced opposition to innocuous protests like kneeling during the national anthem. Now, even linking arms and observing a moment of silence after the anthem has been judged as too much.
Like it or not, professional athletics isn’t a profession that excludes one from essential rights such as protesting or advocating for what is in the best interests of one’s self and the greater public. Much like a construction worker, a waitress or an accountant, even football players can take a stand against that which they find intolerable or offensive. They simply have the luxury of being able to display their actions on a much larger stage than the average person.
Perhaps that’s what rankles racists the most. The fact that athletes are joining so many others in condemning things like racism and police brutality is taking away their comfort zones. The “safe spaces” of hatred and intolerance are continuing to rapidly shrink, sending those on the opposite side of the coin scurrying around like rats aboard a ship taking on water.
While America is in the midst of great ideological and social conflict, the movement to bring about true equality has never been stronger. The country remains divided on the matter, but an ever-increasing number of people are coming out on the side of change. Those refusing to budge are becoming more vocal and more unreasonable in their dissent as a desperate attempt to maintain an upper hand. That’s why the embarrassing display of hate by the crowd in Kansas City so perfectly reflects the worst of this country as it slowly trudges through a period of what could be profound change.