The NFL season, which started tonight in Kansas City, is taking place in the midst of both a viral pandemic and a period of sustained social upheaval and racial reckoning. Naturally, the league’s attempts to contend with both phenomena simultaneously has been baffling and half-assed, as there are around 16,000 fans in attendance at a game where the message “END RACISM” is written in 12-point font at the back of both end zones.
Just before the game, the players and staff of both teams linked arms and formed a line at midfield for a pregame moment of silence in tribute to unity. A good number of Chiefs fans booed the display.
Chiefs fans followed up the show of unity by doing the Tomahawk chop, a gesture which the Chiefs have attempted to distance themselves from with the barest minimum of effort. From the Kansas City Star:
Native Americans will bless the big ceremonial drum like always, and before the drumbeat starts an announcement will be made that incorporating the drum into the game-day experience is a “privilege” and that fans are invited to join as they beat the drum.
The cheerleaders will then do the same chop motion, but with a closed fist instead of open palm. You know, signaling the beating of the drum.
“Admittedly it’s a subtle change,” Chiefs president Mark Donovan said. “But it’s a step, and it’s a change.”
Please also enjoy the Chiefs tweeting out the final five seconds of the unity display, essentially the only boo-free part of the proceedings.