The New York Times Wonders If Football Fans Are Racist

David Hookstead | Contributor

The New York Times ran a hilarious op-ed wondering if football fans are racist.

Football season is only a few days away, so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised the hot takes would start rolling in.

I just didn’t expect The New York times to come in firing hot out of the gates with this piece.

The author wrote in part:

Yet we should not be so sure that white fans’ willingness to support black athletes on the gridiron entails a genuine acceptance of racial equality, nor their inclusion of black people more broadly in the “we” that is supposed to be No. 1. Indeed, white acceptance of black entertainers and white exploitation of the physical labor of black persons long predates the civil rights movement and has been perfectly compatible with anti-black racism.

Moreover, many contemporary white fans’ responses to players of color — when those players express political views (like Colin Kaepernick), behave in ways that make them uncomfortable (like Richard Sherman) or make mistakes (as Tyrann Mathieu did when he lost his eligibility at Louisiana State University for testing positive for marijuana) — are telling. Many are content to identify with black football players for as long as they are useful on the field, to imaginatively project themselves into the physical power and hypermasculinity that (fans imagine) they embody, and to discard and denigrate them when they don’t play their parts as expected — to treat them, as Malcolm X put it when describing his own experience as a popular student and athlete in a predominantly white school, like mascots.

This is satire, right? I struggle to believe the author, Erin Tarver, is serious with this hot pile of garbage. Football fans care about winning games, and not too much else.

It’s not that fans only care when black athletes are successful, only to toss them aside when they screw up. This is not tied only to black people. Has Tarver never heard of Johnny Manziel or Ryan Leaf. Both are white men that were kicked to the curb once their problems outgrew their talent.

I went to the University of Wisconsin, and we’re a state full of people with tons of pride for the Badgers football program. We have athletes of all races that are successful, and we have some that aren’t.

For example, Melvin Gordon is a Badgers legend, he’s a black man, he’s an NFL player and he did everything the right way. On the opposite side of the coin, Montee Ball was a great college running back, beat up women, washed out of the NFL, has been in serious legal trouble and people in Wisconsin threw him in the dustbin of history so fast it’d make your head spin.

I went to the same school as Russell Wilson. One of us changed the sports world forever, and the other went on to win a Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks. I’ll let history decide ultimately who is more successful, but at no point of watching Wilson torch Big Ten defenses did his race ever come into my mind.

I don’t give a damn about the race of my quarterback. All he needs to do is score touchdowns, convert on third down, keep the chains moving and win me games. All take a purple quarterback if he can get the job done.

That’s the great part about football. The strong survive, the weak die, nothing is given and everything is earned. It’s a sport for the common man, who loves his beers cold, his women hot and loves America.

It has nothing to do with white people exploiting black people. This is one of the craziest things I’ve seen since I watched Bret Bielema throw away Wisconsin’s 2011 game against Michigan State.

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David Hookstead

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