Just My Take: The KKK took my Super Bowl away

John Reidy Avatar
January 29, 2016


Just-my-take (1)

The Denver Broncos will wear white in Super Bowl 50 and the Carolina Panthers will wear black. How appropriate. For a Super Bowl with so many great storylines, this one is starting to revolve around an unfortunate one: race.

In what should be a celebration of what is probably Peyton Manning’s last game, people are ignoring a central rule to enjoying sports and injecting the subject of race into the discussion. Religion and politics are sitting on the bench wondering when they’ll get their shot.

Sports discussions are usually immune from these verboten dinner party topics because it’s about the results on the field and not about the ancillary nonsense floating around it. But race is another matter because it does directly affect what goes on in a particular sport. African-Americans comprise the majority of the players on a football or basketball team so it’s negligent to not acknowledge race has, at least, something to do with sports. But while it can be an uncomfortable topic for some, it’s up to you how you choose to let it affect you.

People will point to this Super Bowl as a black and white thing and that’s too bad. If the Broncos weren’t in the Super Bowl, I’d be rooting for the Panthers because I really enjoyed what the team did this year and I especially appreciate what Cam Newton did with what was supposed to be a limited offense.

Aside from the very gross, unequivocally racist comments some morons have made, the water cooler arguments against Newton are tedious and also have a whiff of racism about them. “He’s too cocky!” Yeah, well so was Joe Namath. “He’s always doing some stupid dance and smiling!” Well isn’t he out there to entertain? He’s doing just that. While winning games. I’ll admit I didn’t really like Newton when he came out of college because he seemed like the classic pampered college athlete who was the center of several controversies while the QB of Auburn. But he proved me wrong by transforming into a pretty great leader on and off the field. Newton has been known to grab an opposing team’s banner out of a fan’s hand and if you have a problem with that, you’ve apparently never been to a Cubs game at Coors Field. I want my sports figures to care.

Johnny Manziel, a white, flashy, pampered college athlete who isn’t 1/16th the QB Newton is, does far worse things and his actions are merely shrugged off. So if there isn’t even a light dusting of racism flavoring these takes on Cam, then I could be wrong about the sky being blue. Newton himself weighed in by saying, “I’m an African-American quarterback that may scare a lot of people because they haven’t seen nothing that they can compare me to.” Which really means, “I’m big, black and successful and I scare white people.” Which is probably true. But if you look at the world now compared to when Doug Williams beat the Broncos in Super Bowl XXII, the world has changed a whole hell of a lot. Newton may be aiming that statement at the racists of America, but there is a whole generation of people who don’t see any difference between him and Peyton Manning. Other than the scrambling ability of course. And that is a giant step forward.

Are there racists who will root for one side or the other because of the quarterbacks? Of course. But we’re plagued with these kinds of people in our daily lives enough, so you don’t have to let them gain a foothold in your sports enjoyment. People are starting to wring their hands that rooting for the Broncos will lump them in with racists who hate Cam Newton. Well, if you’re white, you’ve already been lumped in with these losers. It sucks doesn’t it? Hopefully, your actions paint a picture of who you really are, not have your white skin be mistaken for a Klan hood.

But for anyone who isn’t a total caveman, looking beyond the color of the player’s skin and only at the color of their uniform should be a quality of the modern 21st-century person, at least for the two hours that a football game is on. If not, maybe you need to work on yourself for a bit before you watch a game where people of all races (ok, mostly two races) come together and play a game.

And the Carolinas are hardly the bastion of racial equality, so spare me the “racists are rooting for the Broncos” argument. In fact, there has been a skirmish or two because of race, in the past, in that neck of the woods so forgive me for not believing the Carolina Panther fan base is a racist free zone full of free thinkers. The black QB for the team they root for has taken them to a Super Bowl, so you know their usual racist antics have been scaled back a bit. Lord help Newton if he loses.

I won’t make the case for racists to not be racist. That mold has already dried. But I will try and make rational people look beyond race for this Super Bowl and hopefully further. Race will always be there like our shadow. It’s something we will always have to work with, around and through. But even though race has already been steeped in the boiling water of this Super Bowl, we should observe its central purpose and be able to forget about something like that from the time the coin is flipped until the final gun sounds. Next week, let’s not make the Super Bowl about black and white, but about the Orange & Blue and the Black & Silver.

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