Kansas City fans boo during moment of silence for racial equality before NFL opener

They allowed 17,000 masked-up fans into the game, which seemed defensible until the crowd shots revealed that many of those fans were congregated together in the stands. What was the point of limiting capacity to enable social distancing if fans weren’t actually going to distance themselves?


This was the scene when the Houston Texans joined the Chiefs on the field for a moment of silent solidarity in support of racial equality before the game. This is the NFL’s official clip of that moment; you’ll need to boost your audio to hear the booing, which was more evident during the live broadcast. Whether the league deliberately tried to conceal the crowd response by fiddling with the sound for this clip or whether it just ended up that way, I leave for your consideration.

Some of the players definitely heard it:

“The moment of unity I personally thought was good. The booing was unfortunate in that moment,” Texans defensive end J.J. Watt said after the Chiefs emerged with a 34-20 victory. “I don’t fully understand that. There was no flag involved, there was nothing involved with that besides two teams coming together to show unity.”…

“I didn’t really hear the booing. I didn’t notice that,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. “I just I thought that that was a nice thing to do. So I’m not sure why they would do that. Maybe they were just booing us because we had just come on the field as the visiting team. But yeah, I thought that that was a very nice gesture.”

That’s one theory, that the booing was aimed not at the moment of silence but at the Texans, who remained in the locker room during the national anthem and then came out on the field to join the Chiefs for the moment of silence. But that’s hard to believe. Surely the razzing of the visiting team would have stopped when the announcer asked for quiet during an expression of unity.

Another theory is that the fans weren’t booing the players’ demonstration, they were being something that was being shouted from the stands. The audio in this clip is much better than the NFL’s and lends a bit of credence to that. The booing doesn’t start until 28 seconds in and only then after the shouting begins. It tails off reasonably quickly too, replaced by sporadic clapping and then more claps after the announcer says “thank you.” If the idea was to express disapproval of the moment of silence, one would think that the booing would have been consistent all the way through.

I can’t make out what was being shouted but a few people claim it was something like “Trump 2020” or “Donald Trump.”

Maybe they really *were* booing the players. Maybe fans have simply had enough of woke pageantry at sporting events! Could be, but this new WaPo poll suggests otherwise.

Despite cries for athletes to “stick to sports,” particularly from conservative pundits and politicians, a 62 percent majority of Americans say professional athletes should use their platforms to express their views on national issues, including over 8 in 10 Black Americans and 7 in 10 adults under age 50.

Opinions are similar among football fans, with 59 percent saying kneeling during the national anthem is an appropriate way to protest racial inequality and 64 percent saying athletes should express views on national issues in general…

According to the Post poll, the majority of Republicans and people over the age of 50 call kneeling during the national anthem “not appropriate.” The feelings are particularly divided along partisan lines. Majorities of Democrats (73 percent) and independents (54 percent) say it is appropriate to kneel during the anthem in protest, while 36 percent of Republicans say it is appropriate.

The moment of silence wasn’t an anthem protest, but then not everyone who objects to kneeling during the anthem is objecting to the alleged disrespect shown to the anthem. Some are objecting to using sports as a platform for activism, others are objecting to the underlying cause. Even if only a third of fans in attendance last night jeered the moment of silence, they could have made a lot of noise by booing while the rest of the crowd kept quiet. It should also go without saying that how the average NFL fan feels about protests isn’t necessarily representative of how the average NFL fan *with the wherewithal to get tickets to the game* feels about them. Republicans may have been overrepresented in the crowd last night.

Andrew Egger made an interesting point too:

Righties are more likely than lefties to take chances with being infected by COVID, i.e. Democrats routinely poll higher when asked if they always wear a mask when leaving the house. It stands to reason that the Chiefs would have had more takers among right-wing fans than left-wing ones when they announced they’d be hosting a (limited-capacity) mass gathering to watch the first game of the season. Maybe they had a Trumpier crowd than usual in the house.

In lieu of an exit question, here’s an interesting team video by the Miami Dolphins vowing that, like the Texans last night, they’ll stay in the locker room for the playing of the national anthem and “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the so-called black national anthem. Both were played before yesterday’s game and will be played before every NFL game this weekend. The Dolphins aren’t boycotting because they think the spectacle is too political; as I understand them, they’re boycotting because it’s not political enough. It’s a gimmick, an empty woke gesture substituting for more meaningful activism by the league.