One of the heavy burdens of being a football fan

…during protests against institutional racism is that mostly male, mostly white fellow football fans are racists.

Maybe this is why most institutional liberals like me — white and female — aren’t football fans.

In any case, and for many reasons, it’s been a burden to read the ignorant crapola over Colin Kaepernick’s protest and exile. I’m working hard here to avoid saying that people who are furious over this potent yet non-violent and silent expression of pain and anger are stupid. But they are.

The flag is a symbol. It is not the ethos of the United States, it is not the immutable fact of the United States. It isn’t even immutable since it’s been changed a number of times to add stars as states have been added. In itself, it has no meaning.

The national anthem is an unsingable adaptation of a British drinking club song. I know it’s unsingable because in a previous life, I was a singer. You can’t sing the damn thing. The unimpressive, deeply soppy lyrics were written by a lawyer and amateur poet — heavy emphasis on the “amateur.”

Whenever I listen to Haydn’s String Quartet Opus 76, No 3 — called “The Emperor” — or Sibelius’ tone poem “Finlandia,” I am suffused with regret. Because Germany and Finland had the good sense and exquisite musical taste to use themes from their great composers as their national anthems, and I sit around grousing that nobody in the United States thought to ask Aaron Copland, who wrote the glorious “Fanfare for the Common Man,” to adapt it as our anthem, or to write something equally wonderful for us to sing.

Moreover, neither flag nor anthem has any logical (or even illogical) link to the National Football League and games played under its auspices, unless you are deluded by the language used by commentators into thinking the games are actual war.

Worst of all, seventy percent of the players we watch and admire are African-American. They are black. We do not, as fans, devote ourselves to team owners and management. They are not out there thrilling us with the game. The players are.

So, with that attitude, you’ll figure I’ve been bitterly amused to see how the World of Professional Football is dealing with the gross injustice and horror we’ve all had to face because of the murder of George Floyd. That is, the gross injustice and horror Kaepernick has been protesting for years. It’s like the NFL is saying, “Whoops! That’s not good. Is that what you’ve been talking about? Is that what you meant when you knelt?”

So. It comes down to today, as I read the Daily News, and encountered Pat Leonard’s column. Leonard is the Daily News beat reporter for the Giants. Much of the time while reading his reporting I want to smack him.

Today, I wanted to smack a fan who wrote to Leonard, expressing his deeply considered feelings about whether he’d continue to be a Giants fan given that our star running back (and a number of other players) is a prominent spokesperson for the protests and protesters. Here’s the clipping:


Here’s my message to Ron Charboneau: whatever you think is “god” is some white dude with a beard who is not blessing America or you. She is black and with any luck will be our next vice president.

How kind of you to condescend to not stop being a Giants fan because people are protesting the murder of black men by white cops and our country’s suppurating wound —  racism. I do not look forward to hearing from you again. On the other hand, I do want to hear more from Saquon Barkley and everyone like me who supports him.


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