This is a mildly inconvenient time to be a white American. We are allowed to get our hair cut but not our beards trimmed; we have to wear masks in public, and we are being forced to view the pain of the truly oppressed members of our society. I understand that if you’re not used to being exposed to inconvenience or the reality of your neighbors’ lived experiences, you’re probably desperate for some good old-fashioned escapism.
All sarcasm aside, I truly understand that in the midst of chaos in America, people are genuinely looking for a sense of normalcy and escape from the bleak reality. And one way that people experience this is through sports. As a matter of fact, my favorite tool of escapism is watching NHL hockey and EPL soccer. So I get it.
But White America’s demand for the return of professional sports at this moment is pretty pathetic and maybe just a little racist. Many sports fans expect players to go out and put their bodies and their lives on the line in the midst of a pandemic just so that they can be entertained and distracted from reality. In the best conditions, professional athletes face risks of physical or neurological injury every time that they take the field. In a time of plague, the realities of contact sports inevitably put their families and loved-ones at risk.
The call for the return of sports is also racist because the average white sports fan seems unconcerned about the health of athletes who, often enough are African American or Hispanic. To them, athletes are not human beings so much animals trained for their entertainment.
The average white sports fan also believes that professional athletes owe them something because they are divas overpaid to play children’s games. However, that kind of thinking simply mystifies the realities of the sports-entertainment economy. Professional athletes are paid breadcrumbs compared to the billions of dollars that their labor generates for their owners. The predominantly Black athletic labor force owes the fans nothing.
The call for the return of sports is also racist because of what white America is trying to escape: the images of the police killing unarmed black men, and the voices of their black brothers and sisters demanding that America live up to the phrase “all men are created equal.” They want their sports back so that they can do what white America does best: ignore racial injustices and inequality.
Call me a SJW. I do not want sports back this year. America is facing a moral crisis and we do not need to escape from reality, they need to face their reality.
Our country is burning like a raging forest fire and Americans are begging for it to be put out. But if we distract ourselves from the rage in the streets and the growing death toll of COVID-19. Then what good comes from the flames? Nothing.
Let’s give up on sports for nine-months. Let’s let the rage of our fellow Americans burn down the structures of racism and inequality to the ground. Let that happen because their existence is what has kept America from ever being great. This country has the opportunity to fix many social ills and they can if they do not allow themselves to be distracted by balls and pucks.