Thursday, February 04, 2021

White Noise

 Happy Super Bowl week. 

I can understand how you might have missed this point in the otherwise busy news cycle. I confess that I had to do some quick tallying to recall last year's matchup. Kansas City won Super Bowl Just Shy Of Fifty-Five against the team from San Francisco. This year, Tom Brady has a new team with whom he would like to win the NFL championship. The Kansas City Chiefs are hoping that the more things change, the more they should stay the same. 

Except for their team name. And that obnoxious "tomahawk chop" favored by their fans. As I said, so much has changed, including Tom Brady not being a Patriot but now a Buccaneer. Pirates feel very well represented in the professional sports landscape, with two NFL franchises and a Major League Baseball team to call their own. Out in Washington, before the election and the riots and the virtual inauguration, there was a seismic shift of sorts coming from the sports world. The Washington Football Team is now called just that. Pending approval of a new mascot, football fans had to be satisfied with urging their team on without an avatar. It should be noted that this change accompanied a trip to the playoffs after a five year drought. 

It could be argued that in Washington, they didn't have much to lose. A lack of success created a pretty desperate situation, magnified by a summer of racial unrest and heightened awareness that made what had been suggested as inevitable come to pass. Meanwhile, in Missouri, the choice was less clear. Why mess with success? The argument was made that their team name was more honorific and less derogatory. Who wouldn't want to be a Chief? Unless you're uncomfortable with cultural appropriation, or the guttural caterwauling made in hopes of cheering on the home team. "Tomahawk Chop" is not a cultural thing outside of sports stadiums, dating all the way back to the 1984 Florida State Seminoles. That tradition continues today as a tribute to the persistent tone-deafness of sports fans.

Which is kind of interesting, considering that this year's football season has been played in the vacuum of near-empty arenas. For broadcast purposes, sound engineers have piped in noise to simulate noise made by spectators. And in some locales, a limited number of fans have been allowed in to take in the spectacle. One of these spots has been Kansas City, where those who have very loosely packed socially distanced stands have brought their tired rituals back with them: barbecue and racial insensitivity. 

I should note here that, as a football fan, I have a great appreciation for the game the Kansas City team puts on the field. They are fast, exciting, and creative. They are a lot of fun to watch. I try not to listen. The the pumped in white noise. 

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