On the same day that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said that the Cowboys will play in front of their fans when the NFL season kicks off, it must turn his incredibly stretched skin red and close to rupture to know that another team in Dallas was the first to play in front of fans last night.
FC Dallas, one of the two rejects from the MLS Is Back tournament, hosted Nashville SC, their fellow denied applicant in the first sporting event by any of the (non-NASCAR) leagues on American soil to allowed paying customers since the pandemic hit. While Texas Governor Greg Abbot — who I assume is just Mel Brooks’ character from Blazing Saddles come to life based on...well, everything — had decreed that sporting venues could operate at 50 percent capacity (probably enforced by Jones himself to avoid said skin rupture to reveal the bugs he is made of), Dallas FC so graciously stated that they would only allow 25 percent at Toyota Stadium in Frisco.
Only about 2,500 people actually walked through the doors, and in a vision of what we’ll all be doing pretty much every time we leave the house in the near future, they all had to sign a waiver that they would not hold the stadium, Dallas FC, or MLS responsible if they were to catch COVID-19 and, y’know, get sick and die. Welcome to America, where nothing is your fault but nothing is the other guy’s fault either.
While Dallas FC took measures to mitigate risk as much as they could to allow fans — somewhere on the level of peeing on things in a burning house to keep them wet — like roping off seats, keeping people six feet apart and cashless payments for everything, this is still a state where the positivity rate of tests is 24.5 percent. There’s no way to categorize an attempt to congregate any group of people as anything other than reckless, moronic, dangerous and selfish. But that’s what goes on the license plates in Texas, isn’t it? I’m sitting on a goldmine here if it isn’t.
Not only was the game the first one to take place in front of fans, but it was also the first time we’ve seen mass Black Lives Matter protests in front of fans. This was something of a test run for when the rubber meets the road, should that happen somewhere down the line. It went about as you might expect in Texas.
One fan apparently threw a bottle onto the field as all players and refs took a knee for the anthem, while some other fans booed. Perhaps the temptation is to dismiss it as just one fan or just a handful of dipshits, but that is all it will take when stadiums are full again, assuming protests are still taking place, for something truly horrific to occur.
That doesn’t mean the protests should stop or anything resembling them, or that they’ve been completely empty just because they’ve taken place in empty stadiums and arenas so far. Protests carry even more meaning when directly in the face of those who need to see/hear them. They also cannot be cowed by any air of danger, as we’ve seen all summer. But since Colin Kaepernick took a knee five years ago, clearly emotions and stakes are much higher now. The fuckstick who threw a bottle onto the field will not be the last to lash out at those taking a knee, and it will be up to teams, stadiums, and leagues to continue to support players, coaches, refs, and fans who are still protesting no matter what incidents happen. It’s easier to do when they happen only in front of a television audience. It won’t be the same when there’s incidents like this in Dallas or much worse. And no one would bet that there’s no chances of a worse incident.
To reiterate, there is one person who ignored a pandemic in a state that has shown little interest in doing much about it other than putting people on a conveyor belt to get sick to watch a live sporting event he should have never been allowed into so he could physically react to a protest about Black people being shot by police needlessly. Again, the urge is to dismiss this as one joker. And yet deep down, we know this is far too big of a part of what this country is right now.
If only Dallas FC losing had been any kind of comfort.