Sports Column: Professional athletes make important statement

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Kansas City Chiefs players lock arms in a display of unity against racism. (Illustration by Dani Rebolledo)
By Daniela Ramirez

The Kansas City Chiefs’ big win against the Houston Texans was not only a win for the team, but a win for America before the ball was even kicked off.  

Two of the best teams in the NFL took a leap of faith Sept. 10 and showed their support of the Black Lives Matter movement during a moment of unity in the fight against racial inequality. 

The Texans decided to stay in their locker room during the national anthem, while Chiefs defensive end Alex Okafor dropped to one knee, expressing his support for the movement. 

The teams didn’t stop there. At kickoff time, the Chiefs and Texans quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes II and Deshaun Watson, respectively, led their teams to the middle of the field for a moment of unity, locking arms with one another. 

The crowd’s reaction caused controversy. Boos roared through the stadium as the teams locked arms. The fans’ negative reaction resulted not from the athletes’ statement, but from the selfishness of fans just wanting to watch football without it being “politicized.”

This was no political stunt. It is a movement set by top athletes using their platforms to create change within a society that wants to “get back to normal.” That phrase refers to the times before COVID-19, racial sensitivity and “riots” due to the killings of Black people by police. 

That “normal” housed unchallenged racism, inequality and injustice. But athletes are challenging that now. 

Moments against racism are not uncommon on NFL fields. Colin Kaepernick famously kneeled during the national anthem in 2016, sparking a discussion on systemic racism. 

Kaepernick was frowned upon. But many now consider him an activist in the fight for equality. Difficult decisions must sometimes be made for the greater good, no matter the consequences. Kaepernick embodies that and inspires other individuals and teams. 

 The Chiefs and Texans took Kaepernick’s foundation of activism and displayed what our country needs desperately: unity. 

Regardless of the opposing opinions on racial inequality in this country, the ongoing fight has made its way into professional sports. Mahomes told reporters in the post conference that he wanted everyone to feel loved. His message was to show unity in hopes that his team could make a change. 

Sports have a huge impact on individuals all over the world, especially within America. The NFL is not the only league to show their support in the fight. NBA stars LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma and Chris Paul wear “Black Lives Matter” warm up shirts and “Say Her Name” jerseys in support of Breonna Taylor.

Sports have changed, not just because of COVID-19 regulations, but because of the social issues athletes from teams of all sports have experienced during the long overdue battle for equality. 

Top athletes have an effective platform. For these athletes, it’s more than the game they’re playing for. 

They are fighting for the lives that haven’t been heard, that haven’t been seen.

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