Hello friends and welcome to another edition of the Brownie Points. This is a somewhat regular column in which I evaluate the sports world by awarding points to those who have done something notable and taking points away from those who are underwhelming.
Last edition, I naively believed the basketball gods would allow me to be happy. This week, I switched my focus to the NFL — more specifically, the sad display of humanity at the Kansas City Chiefs’ game Sept. 10.
Now, for those of you who aren’t avid followers of football, the reigning Super Bowl champs hosted the opening game of the NFL season against the Houston Texans Sept. 10. But arguably the most notable events occurred before the game even kicked off. The two teams began the night by coming to midfield and locking arms together in a “moment of unity” to address the issue of systemic racism in this country.
However, some Chiefs fans seemingly chose the side of racism by booing during the moment of solidarity. It’s important to note that the crowd’s reaction was a mixture of cheers and boos. But as the saying goes, “one bad apple spoils the whole bunch,” so I can’t even imagine what thousands of bad apples would do to the bunch.
I’m not saying this moment of unity would’ve suddenly fixed racism in this country. This isn’t that stupid Pepsi ad where Kendall Jenner managed to end police brutality with a can of ice-cold, refreshing Pepsi. But how hard is it to simply support small gestures like this?
It goes without saying that the problem of racism is very complex and deeply rooted throughout this country’s history. There doesn’t appear to be one perfect solution to fixing the systemic issues of racism, but that is what the debate should be around. It should go without question that we, as a country, need to make the necessary strides to end racism.
While there is some opposition to the very concept of systemic racism, it’s abundantly clear that Black people and other people of color are at an unfair position whether you’re looking at employment, politics, policing or incarceration.
Even President Donald Trump admitted systematic racism exists in the United States. Granted, he only said it when it was a private interview with journalist Bob Woodward and not in front of a podium where he continues to lie and pander to his supporters on a regular basis.
If even Trump can recognize these issues in a rare moment of candidness and truth, why do so many other Americans choose to ignore these problems? And coming back around to the instance at the Chiefs game, why would some fans go as far as to boo the simple act of unity?
It wasn’t during the National Anthem, so fans couldn’t even be willfully ignorant and demand that they were just disrespecting the flag while ignoring the players’ message. It was simply two teams coming together to say they supported each other moments before they repeatedly bashed into each other on the field for 60 minutes.
The fanbase of the reigning Super Bowl champions being nearly unbearable is nothing new. Except usually it’s because they flood social media with boasts and brags about their team’s success, not because they oppose basic human rights and equality.
There simply isn’t a number that can quantify the amount of Brownie Points that deserve to be taken from those who instinctually oppose even the most basic displays of justice and equality.
Many people argue that there is no place for politics in sports, and for the most part, I agree. I would rather not hear about gerrymandering, taxes or the electoral college during a football game. Those are all important issues, but a football game really isn’t the ideal venue for that.
However, racism shouldn’t be considered a political topic but rather, a human rights issue. And the thing about human rights issues is that they affect virtually every aspect of life. Therefore, the afflicted people, and any other decent person supporting equality, should be able to speak out in whatever way they feel safe and comfortable.
It’s time to stop looking at moments like at the Chiefs game as simply political gestures. And it’s time to start taking a hard look at how we can address the issue of systemic racism in the United States so that athletes don’t feel like they need to beg the fans they play for to treat them as equal human beings.