The National Football League needs Super Bowl LV to be a success, and in a big way. The league has been consistently saddled with setbacks in recent months, thanks in no small part to its unwillingness to address the issue of personal political statements and protests by players. The league has taken the “free speech” side of the argument, but fans are annoyed by the demonstrations, and ratings are way down. But on Super Bowl Sunday, the protests won’t be coming from the sidelines – they’ll be coming from the parking lot.
According to Fox News, a Florida-based activist group is planning to congregate outside Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., where the big game is being played, to object to the Kansas City Chiefs’ team name, use of other American Indian imagery, and even the fans’ symbolic “tomahawk chop.”
The Florida Indigenous Rights and Environmental Equality group, which is based in St. Petersburg, will run the protest near the stadium, holding signs and singing. Alicia Norris, the group’s co-founder, told the Associated Press that the chop is “extremely disrespectful” and equates Native Americans to “savages.”
Kile Chaney, a 42-year-old stonemason from Missouri, told the AP that he sees it as a “rally cry.”
“Just to hear all the fans doing the tomahawk chop and hear it echo through the corridors, it is a beautiful noise that we make here,” he added.
Students at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kan., were among those who called for the Chiefs to make some changes before the 2020 season started.
“Using this mascot and having this fan base of predominantly White people wearing face paint and headdresses and doing the tomahawk chop, and it energizes them and gives them this sense of power, and then thinking there is nothing wrong with doing that is just mind-boggling to me,” said former student government president William Wilkinson, who is Navajo, Cherokee, Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara.
There are already protests in Kansas City taking the form of billboards have been erected on major highways.
Earlier this year the Washington Redskins changed their name to the vapidly generic “Washington Football Team” after decades of sustained pressure from indigenous advocacy groups. And the Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians announced changes of their own team names. When will the organizers of these sports recognize that sports and politcis don’t mix?
Cross posted at The Lid