Fans attending the NFL’s 2020-2021 season opener booed as the two competing teams came together for a moment of solidarity against racism.
The Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans met in the Midwestern city to initiate the 2020 NFL season. As the home team, the defending Super Bowl champions remained on the field for “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and the national anthem. The visiting Texans emerged from the locker room afterward and joined the Chiefs on the field.
With Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Texans QB Deshaun Watson standing in the center, the remaining players linked arms and formed a line across the field in a moment of silence for equality. But some fans ignored the request for silence and expressed their feelings through loud boos and groans.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas decided to allow a limited amount of fans into Arrowhead Stadium amid the coronavirus pandemic. Yahoo Sports reports the city leader says after officials consulted with medical professionals they believe the spacious venue will not put fans in danger.
“Arrowhead Stadium is a large, cavernous, 80,000-seat stadium, so we’re able to keep social distancing, we’re able to keep people outside and we’re able to make sure that people aren’t interacting in close spaces and touching surfaces,” Lucas said to Yahoo.
Although he believes that out of 16,000 fans allowed into the 80,000 capacity sports arena someone entering will have COVID-19, he stands by social distancing preventing an outbreak.
“That said, if people keep their distancing, if they have their masks, if they go through all of the safeguards that we’ve established in Kansas City, then we’re not likely to see further spread,” Lucas said.
The crowd dissatisfaction in both team’s collaborative display of solidarity does not mirror the community, Lucas, who is African-American, said. He tweeted that although he heard the boos, there are “thousands more around here who respect the message the players are sharing.”
His was not the only social media reaction that called out the Chiefs fan base for its actions.
Kansas City councilperson Eric Bunch took to social media to share his disappointment in the boos echoing from the half-empty stands.
“The incident was particularly striking because it was meant as a show of unity rather than any kind of protest with players, both black and white, linking arms,” he said on Twitter.
Annie Apple, author, journalist, and mother of Carolina Panthers cornerback Eli Apple, tweeted her thoughts on how fans view the players of their favorite sport.
Journalist and culture critic Touré explains the reaction to the peaceful moment is representative of most NFL city’s fan bases.
“The moment of unity I personally thought was good,” popular Texans player J.J. Watt told NFL Network. “I mean the booing during that moment was unfortunate. I don’t fully understand that. There was no flag involved. There was nothing involved other than two teams coming together to show unity.”
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