On Football, South American Geography, Racism

Behold, Americans, it is football time!! Let us worship the beautiful, gentle game that we United Statesians aptly named after a sport that is played by other in which they use their feet not their hands - except in rare occurrences - to move the ball down the field and score. But I won’t harp on this demonstrative irony much because everybody knows the name of the sport we play over on this side of the pond, the better one, makes no sense and we still don’t care (again, ‘MURICA). See, thing is, we live in a place that’s called the United States of America, and by just saying America in its place also technically means we should be talking about Canada, Mexico and… err… all the other countries below Mexico that I can name like half of because I’m terrible at South American geography as is my patriotic duty. America is the name of the continent or some crap like that. Never was too good at the booky learnin’.

But the World Cup is over, Brohan, so I don’t need to be able to act like I know where Bolivia is. Now our helmeted, heavily PED-pumped gladiators will meet on the gridiron, fight the good fight and bleed the good… err… blood for our amusement. I can hardly wait! Also, to further sweeten the deal, there’s gambling in the form of fantasy football, so that makes it even better. Sports and gambling go together like alcohol and… well… sports, but not ones where you drive. Actually, forget that; there are no sports where you drive.

Here’s a thing that is kinda weird, though: I had my fantasy draft the other day, and it occurred to me that a large majority of NFL players are African-American, and yet it’s common fantasy football nomenclature to say that one “owns” a player if that player is on one’s team. So, basically, I’m a white dude in a fantasy league - a league with two black team owners in it, mind you - saying out loud without any reservation that I “own” Jamaal Charles. And nobody bats an eye. Perhaps I’m being overly sensitive about this and seeing malady where there isn’t any, which is possibly true, but in light of current events and football’s rather shall-we-say tumultuous history with the effects of racism, I still think it is worth consideration.

As recent as last season, Miami offensive lineman and all around Caucasian jerkwad, Richie Incognito (Seriously, how is that a name? Was freaking Stan Lee his dad? Is he a super-powered cat burglar at night?), bullied one of his teammates by saying many different horrible things to him in what was clearly out of control hazing. And the abuse included many instances of the N-word being directed at the rookie victim. There’s conflicting accounts that he was saying the N-word with an A at the end, but the fact remains that Richie is white and he’s not directly quoting someone, which is the only time that is okay.

Some have argued - and this is where it gets weird and my head starts to spin – that Richie was an “honorary black man”. This is not true… like, at all. Richie may have been friends with many African American teammates, schoolmates, etc. over the years, but that still does not eliminate one from the potential of offending a non-friend by using that word via pronouncing the e-r part or not.

See, a white dude who grows up in a black neighborhood still has the luxury of being able to remove himself from that environment and blend in among a bunch of white racists. With the exception of an elaborate disguise, this isn’t the case with his theoretical childhood friends of color. There is an intrinsic disadvantage in that inequity. Though it isn’t universal in every place, racism exists in many places.

These places aren’t just the USofA either, though. Follow sports news during the various foreign soccer seasons and watch the racist shitshow unfold! Remember in the World Cup when there was all that anti-racist FIFA stuff in the venues? Maybe you thought, “Yeah, racism is bad but I don’t think we need to advertise that. Doesn’t everyone already know this shit?” Well, that was there for a reason: because foreigners are horrible bigots too. Soccer fans regularly throw bananas at black players during games. Remember how that female Russian Olympic star tweeted out a photo of our president with a banana in his hand? That was infuriating, right? It’s enough to make you think that maybe America is somehow classier than even European countries. (I’m looking at you right now, Italy!)

If you have ever caught yourself thinking that being black no longer has an intrinsic element of difficulty to it, look at the comments on the internet having to do with black NFL quarterbacks. Or listen closely in the stands of your team’s publically swindlFINANCED stadium during a game in which a black QB is playing, as opposed to the shitty white one from a few seasons before, one who nobody seemed to like until he was replaced by a black guy. Hmmmm.  

Since Marlin Briscoe of the Denver Broncos (I had to Google that so don’t be too impressed.) became the first African American QB to start in a NFL game, backwards thinking people in the world have believed it was a white man’s position. That mindset continues in many supposed NFL fans to this day, and everyone who doesn’t have the innocence of a child or Brett Favre (awwww) knows it. I don’t think there’s one NFL fan who hasn’t heard questionable statements, overt or implied, regarding the inherent abilities of Kaep, Cam Newton, RGIII, or Michael Vick (who is/was a dick but that’s because he proved it via actions, not because of his skin color).

This brings me around to the events of Ferguson, Missouri. No matter what side you take in the argument regarding that tragedy and the response to it by either the police or rioters, there are some things that are pretty hard to argue with: a.) at the minimum it at least looks really, really bad to have a predominately black town policed by predominately white cops, and b.) reading any thread of internet comments linked to stories or videos from the events will undoubtedly contain a hundred posts by one or more racist assholes that are undeterred by the moderators repeatedly banning them. Unless you go to YouTube – don’t do this, by the way, ever – where the comments aren’t edited at all and are a prime example of why we should bomb the Internet.

I guess what I’m getting at is that we don’t live in a post-racial world yet, as much as we in liberal utopias/rich guy playgrounds such as San Francisco and Manhattan would like to believe. There’s still work to do. And I need equal production from Keenan Allen and Matt Stafford, either of whom I do not own. They just play on my team. Hopefully, they play well.

Also, if one or more of them turn out to be bums or get injured and fail me, I’m seriously burning the Internet down regardless of our collective enlightenment and cooperation. I demand points.

(authored at start of 2014-15 season)

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