The NFL kicks off in a controversial way


Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons

The NFL began its controversial history surrounding the anthem when San Francisco 49ers players began kneeling for the anthem in 2016.

Molly Wetsch, Editor-in-Chief

At the NFL kickoff game last Thursday night, the Kansas City Chiefs faced the Houston Texans for the first game of the season. Much of the focus that night was supposed to be on the Chiefs’ decision to allow fans at their games (at the time, the only NFL team to do so) or how the Super Bowl LIV champions would begin their season. 

Something else stole the spotlight that evening. At the game, players and fans took a “moment of silence for racial equality.” It was meant to portray an image of unity, hope and strength for this industry that is dominated by Black Americans.

Instead, Chiefs fans booed. They echoed throughout the mostly empty stadium and to no one’s surprise, became the talk of the night. These events only represent a greater issue that is sweeping the country. Division is more commonplace than unity in 2020’s America and as a result, more and more incidents like this are bound to happen. Regardless of one’s opinion on police brutality, protests turned riots and everything else the nation is battling all at once, it is difficult to excuse actions like these.

“Some NFL fans booing the players for standing and locking arms in a moment of silent unity proves that for them ‘standing for the flag’ was always about perpetuating white supremacy,” said Kansas City Councilman Eric Bunch.

Other teams have taken slightly different approaches to acknowledging the Black Lives Matter movement within the NFL. While the Chiefs stayed on the field and stood for the national anthem, the Texans elected to leave the field while the anthem played. Other teams have adopted this practice as well, including the Green Bay Packers, the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins.

While the purpose of these demonstrations have been denounced by many as performative, simply another method to preserve the NFL’s rapidly souring name, what occurred at the Chiefs game on Thursday is proof that they have a goal. Changing the world was never the NFL’s end goal, even though the multi-billion dollar corporation and its teams certainly have the funds to do something of the sort. What they are trying to do is make people uncomfortable. They are trying to force them into a situation where all they can do is watch what America has become: a harrowing and painful example of everything they have seen on the news, proof that the breadth and depth of this issue has penetrated even the most lighthearted media on the air right now. This upset Chiefs fans. It is clear that they would rather simply go about their day then take a short moment of silence to acknowledge an issue. They went to the game to watch football, not to be uncomfortable. Whether or not the fans were booing because they did not believe in racial equality or just because they wanted the game to start, what the NFL was trying to do that first Thursday night was clear: put them somewhere they feel safe, then remind them of everything they are quickly forgetting about. 

Although protests and demonstrations have grown smaller over the months, and the amount of social justice Instagram stories has decreased, America is not going to and should not let themselves forget; the NFL is just one example.