Hypocrisy or Change?


2020 was a year where systemic racism in the United States of America was put under a microscope. All eyes were on the US during the Black Lives Matter protests, the deaths of innocent African-Americans, and various instances of police brutality. This year, the NFL (National Football League) released a Super Bowl LV Commercial titled Inspire Change

The commercial begins by showing people of different races, genders, and ages, with a narrator speaking about the significance of football in the US, as well as the importance of unity and coming together to create change. As the narrator delivers an inspiring message, videos of Black Lives Matter protests come on screen, followed by NFL teams, referees, and more members of the community. The final seconds of the ad read: ” “The NFL is committing $250 million to help end systemic racism. While the season is over, our fight for social justice is not.” 

Such a huge donation to fight against an important issue is very inspiring, but there seems to be a problem. Many Americans, as well as NFL fans across the globe are labeling the NFL as hypocrites for their actions. In 2016, a famous American football player, Colin Kaepernick, took a knee during the national anthem in a San Francisco 49ers’ road game on the 1st of September. After the act, Kaepernick told NFL Media, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder”.

While many people saw the action as courageous, Colin Kaepernick also received a lot of backlash for his protest. In 2018, Kaepernick was fired from the 49ers and has still not been signed by another team to the day of writing and was blackballed by the NFL. The NFL consequently created a policy that kneeling during the National Anthem would result in punishment where “teams can be fined, and will then have the option of disciplining the players”. Based on this rule, it seemed as if the NFL was ignoring Colin Kapernick and the social injustices he was protesting against. 

Although the NFL is changing for the better, it is worrying that they took so long to come to their senses. After having the perfect opportunity to support an African-American player and the fight against systemic racism and police brutality, the NFL  simply ignored the cause and punished Kaepernick. Fast forward to 2021, the commercial can be seen as hypocritical because the NFL preaches all the good they are doing and all the diversity they have, but in reality “in the NFL, there are only three black head coaches and no majority black ownership” (Wyche). To “Inspire Change”, the NFL should strive to change from within to inspire change from the outside and not just as a PR stunt. 

Villanova University , NFL