Brent Batten: Boos aren't necessarily a sign of racism

Brent Batten Naples Daily NewsPublished 6:00 AM EDT Sep 15, 2020Regarding sports on television, protests, show

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Regarding sports on television, protests, shows of solidarity, booing and viewership.

Sports have always been a diversion from the travails of life.

Participating or watching offers an opportunity to forget for a while the problems that beset the world and focus on fun and fandom, to marvel at the excellence of those who perform at the highest level and to momentarily share an experience with fellow fans with whom we might have little in common otherwise.

Reality and all it entails will come around again soon enough.

In the past few months, though, we’ve watched sports in America be transformed.

It is now imperative that every event be infused with political and sociological messages that fans must consume along with the games.

Disapproval of this change, in the form of booing when players take a knee during the National Anthem or tuning out altogether, both of which happened at the season’s first NFL game when boos were heard and TV ratings were down, may evoke accusations of racism or intolerance.

You may be of the belief that America is so irredeemable in its nature, so flawed in its founding, that its citizens don’t deserve a break.

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They must be reminded constantly of the original sin of slavery and the continuing existence of racism in our midst.

Until social justice is achieved, there is no room for frivolous pursuits such as football or tennis. These events are only valid to the extent they can be used to further a message and bring about change.

Anyone who disagrees must be a racist.

Only that is not entirely true.

Millions of sports fans want nothing more from the game than for their team to win and for their favorite players to dazzle them with their athletic ability.

They recognize that America, like all countries, is far from perfect.

They know racism and injustice exist.  

They also know progress has been made in the past 100 years. There was a time within the lives of some still alive when people of color were not even allowed to compete on the highest level.

Now minorities are a majority of professional athletes in many sports.

More importantly, similar progress can be seen in all facets of society.

People of color have achieved success in multiple fields of endeavor. Business, medicine, entertainment and science, to name a few.

We’ve had a Black president.  A woman of color is on the ticket aspiring to be vice president.

The fans who disapprove of protests taking the place of patriotism in the pregame and who tune out the in-game admonishments understand that those with a platform, like star athletes, have a right and even an obligation to speak out.

They can and should use their position, their wealth and their influence to affect change because much remains to be done.

But the supplanting of that message with moments traditionally reserved for patriotism and a game that has served as a diversion from such worries is too much for some.

Hence the boos and the tuning out.

(Connect with Brent Batten at
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