Institutional Racism in NFL, Time to Speak Out

The National Football League is the most popular sport in America and the 9th most popular sport in the world. The NFL is a professional football organization made up of 32 teams across 22 states.  Due to all the popularity, many people do not see the institutional racism against players and staff of color in the NFL and this is something that has always been kept quiet and never acknowledged. 

The NFL has always been interested in hiring from families that have deep roots in the league and the sport. This limits people of color who do not have family connections or abilities to gain the same opportunities. According to Does the N.F.L. Have a Race Problem?  from the NY Times a study found that “from 2009 to 2018 nonwhite head coaches averaged much shorter tenures than their white counterparts and were less likely to land a second head coaching position after getting fired.” Furthermore, “Black N.F.L. coaches averaged more wins than their white counterparts and yet had harder times getting hired and were more likely to get fired.” These are examples of the unfair treatment people of color are facing in the league. Having better statistical records and still being denied opportunities over people they have proven to be better than is simply unfair. 

In 2016 a Black quarterback by the name of Colin Kaepernick took to protest against police brutality and the widespread injustice against Black people. His way of protesting was taking a knee during the national anthem. His actions sparked outrage and controversy and he lost support from the NFL. Many of his teammates and players around the league were scared to speak out or take a knee because that risked consequences from the NFL and they didn’t want to lose their job. Kaepernick was fired by the San Francisco 49ers, and many claimed that he was Black by the NFL due to the large amount of controversial attention he was bringing to the league. After this many players were scared to speak out or take action because the consequences were very serious. Colin Kaepernick attempted to resign with an NFL team showing he was still healthy and ready to play and he did not get chosen by any teams. People claim that his rejection from the league was intentional considering many teams could have used a player of his skill level. 

Currently a former head coach, Brian Flores, is suing the NFL and three of its teams, the Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos, and NY Giants, for racial discrimination and prejudiced hiring practices. Flores stated, “My sincere hope is that by standing up against systemic racism in the NFL, others will join me to ensure that positive change is made for generations to come,”. Flores’ decision to sue the NFL can cost him his career and any future relations with the league. There were many teams claiming what Flores said is not true, and they believe that the NFL is very diverse and promotes this strongly. 

There has never been a better time to speak out on these racially discriminatory practices that have been going on for years, especially when the majority of the NFL are people of color. Coming together and taking a stand will not only create a change in the NFL, but in all sports globally. It can begin with a simple protest against the NFL like not watching the games on television, or not purchasing any of the league’s merchandise. Football is an intriguing sport watched by millions of people but the NFL needs to be held accountable for their discriminatory actions against people of color. A change in how the NFL hires their staff and creating a fairer process will definitely help in the elimination of institutional racism in the league, and in the entirety of the sports world.

Shandon Foster

My name is Shandon Foster from Queens, New York. I am a 17 year old prodigy in the 12th grade ready to go into the world and make the biggest impact that I can. I am an athlete who has played a wide variety of sports, like basketball and football, and loves to talk about sports related topics and issues. I love to hang out with friends and listen to music. I have a hidden passion for photography and I wish to dive deeper into this in the future.