As an avid football fan, I appreciate the strategy of the sport, the incredible skill of the players, and the immense pride a city and its fans have for their team.
That said, I acknowledge that there are underlying and unaddressed issues of racism, discrimination, and dismissal of Indigenous peoples (Native Americans) inherent in the name of the team "The Chiefs" and the activities of some of its fans.
The NFL's blind-eye towards, team ownership's business-first indifference to, Missouri's municipal and state political avoidance of, and Kansas City's public acceptance and fan participation in deeply insensitive game-day activities constitute an active endorsement of racism, discrimination, and systemic oppression.
These racist activities specifically include fan appropriation and disrespectful use of the sacred drum and ceremonial headdresses, chanting a profoundly disrespectful "Disney-like" mock war cry, and the wildly inappropriate mass-fan "tomahawk" chop.
It is important that well-intentioned fans who disagree with these activities not just shake their heads when they see it happen but be vocal about the disrespectful and culturally-insensitive nature of these fan actions.
As a fan of the sport and team, I reject these racist (fan-led and industry-accepted) activities, and I call on the NFL, the owners of The Chiefs, the players themselves, and especially the fans attend to publicly reject such activity
Regarding the name, while perhaps less obviously offensive than other sports team names (the Indians, the Redskins, etc) the reduction of marginalized and oppressed people to mascot-like business sports brands is an insidious continuation of cultural caricature, a grave dismissal of the vibrant living traditions of these nations, and a nefarious manifest-destiny commercialization of humans who suffered erasure and genocide.
A "super"-bowl would be one where racism is rejected and fans celebrate the skill of their teams... an "appropriation"-bowl is one where misguided fans (white, marginalized, and people of color) continue to dishonor the First Nations of America through quiet acceptance and participation in racist fan activities.
True football fans love their teams, like family, there through thick and thin. It also means loving a team through challenging conversations. After 50 years Kansas City returns to the national pinnacle of the sport... but as important as a win, what it does is expose a critical issue of unaddressed racism. If one cares about "the Chiefs" they care about who the original "Chiefs" were that it refers to. And to care about them means we must all hold ourselves accountable, because acknowledging and challenging racism and injustice and working in partnership is how we will make change happen.
Finally, I acknowledge that The Kansas City Chiefs' Arrowhead Stadium is on the traditional lands of the Kansa (Kaw) and Osage nations, that the San Fransico 49's Levi's Stadium is on the traditional lands of the Ohlone peoples, and that Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL takes place on the traditional lands of the Calusa, Tequesta, Seminole/Miccosukee peoples. (The purpose of making this land-acknowledgment in post-colonial society is to show respect for Indigenous peoples, recognize their unique culture and enduring relationship to the land, and raise awareness about histories that are often suppressed or forgotten.)