Politics and sports have never played well together.
Before 2014, most political messages were kept off the field. But when Saint Louis Rams players decided to protest the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, the NFL entered a new era of players making social and political statements on national television.
Former officer Darren Wilson was not found guilty of manslaughter or murder in this case.
In 2016, Colin Kaepernick, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, began kneeling during the national anthem. According to Kaepernick, his protest was related to police brutality, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
After George Floyd was sadly killed resisting arrest during the summer of 2020, the NFL played the song “Lift Every Voice And Sing” to open the season. Also, Alicia Keys and the Cleveland All-City Choir sang this same song before Super Bowl LV.
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder and third-degree murder. He was convicted of a crime and sentenced to 22 years in jail.
So why has the National Football League decided to play the ‘Black National Anthem’ titled “Lift Every Voice And Sing” at the beginning of football games?
The NFL will play this song as “a prominent part of all big-league events.” First, no sports fan refers to the NFL as the big league. That moniker is reserved for Major League Baseball. Setting aside semantics to include the ‘Black National Anthem’ at the Super Bowl, Playoffs, Draft, and other games seems to indicate that African Americans support a separate nation.
Is this just another song to play alongside the Star-Spangled Banner and American The Beautiful? Or is it a replacement for the American National Anthem?
Roger Goodell tweeted his position last year: “We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People. We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter.”
As reported by Front Office Sports, the NFL “will introduce more social justice messaging on fields and player helmets during the upcoming 2021 season, following up on initial efforts from 2020. To reinforce its 10-year, $250 million commitment to combat systemic racism, the league will promote social justice via on-field signage, decals on player helmets, and in-stadium PSAs. The NFL also plans to make ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing,’ often referred to as the Black national anthem, a prominent part of all big-league events, said sources. They will likely highlight victims of racial injustice with a ‘Say Their Stories’ project, as well.”
The Skeptic Research Center (SRC) conducted research about perceptions of racism and police brutality. This study found that of “very liberal” respondents asked how many unarmed black Americans are killed every year, 31% believe “about 1,000,” 14% “about 10,000,” and 8% “more than 10,000.” There are 20,000 homicides each year in the United States. Half include African Americans 13.4% of the total population, many of these young black males in urban centers.
According to the Washington Post, 18 unarmed African Americans were killed by police in 2020.
Does the NFL help to “end racism” and “initiate change” or stoke the flames of racial hatred?