Football is back. Football is back. Football is back. No, Mr. Heidkamp, I am not trying to increase the length of this blog post but I am merely highlighting the importance of the statement “Football is back”. In the midst of a global recession, pandemic, social injustice and climate disasters, we all needed to blow off steam by watching 300 pound men run full speed and tackle each other. Nobody can deny that football is action packed and entertaining especially in the Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes era. But what some fans of the NFL seem to abhor is connecting politics with sports. Since the beginning of 2020, a spotlight has been put on America’s racial injustice and specifically police’s racist and violent actions towards people of color in America. From my perspective, it seems to be a divided issue although it clearly should not be. This division of opinion is due to one side lacking the willingness to view the other with mutual recognition. Particularly white people who fail to mutually recognize people of color and the racism they are facing. NFL players among other professional athletes have been a strong voice supporting the BLM movement while also speaking out against systematic racism and police brutality. For example, at the season opener the Chiefs and Texans teams spread across the field and joined arms for a moment of silence to bring awareness to racial injustice. Sidelined players wear Black Lives Matter shirts, some kneel during the National Anthem while many wear the names of Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake on the back of their helmets. I think professional athletes using their platform, popular voices and celebrity status to bring awareness to racial injustice is a positive message that NEEDS to be spoken on. But what is truly sad is many peoples rejection of the players actions. I continually see comments on NFL posts saying “leave politics out of sports” and “nobody cares about your political opinions, your athletes”. Not to mention the limited fans in attendance that could be heard actually booing the Chiefs and Texans during their moment of silence. Such disrespect is sad and unacceptable. Athletes and players are humans just like fans yet fans fail to mutually recognize them as full human beings leading to fans categorizing racial injustice as a political issue while disregarding the players right to voice their opinions. Racial injustice in America is so much bigger than politics, its about human lives and ALL Americans pursuit of happiness and equal opportunity.
If you are viewer and fan of the NFL but can’t respect the players using their voices to speak out on racial injustice then shut up, stop complaining and stop watching. Also, reconsider what it means to be a human if it’s so difficult for you to hear your fellow humans and Americans fight for their safety and rights. Get over yourself and develop some empathy, compassion and mutual recognition.