I AM increasingly alarmed at the collective madness that seems to have gripped our country, and people’s lack of critical faculties, sense of proportion, etc. One recent phenomenon that I find very distasteful is professional footballers ‘taking the knee’ before matches. What happens to any who do not want to be railroaded into this quasi-religious observance?
I have been for some years a Burnley supporter. As I am sure you aware, there was an incident on Monday night when someone flew an aircraft with the banner ‘White Lives Matter Burnley’ over the Etihad Stadium, where Burnley were playing Manchester City. The predictable reaction from the club, having put itself in the position of supporting BLM, was of course a fulsome apology and all the ritual statements people are now required to make about being opposed to all forms of discrimination, etc.
I am not necessarily condoning the incident, but it prompted me to write as follows to the manager of Burnley FC:
Burnley Football Club,
Harry Potts Way
23 June 2020
Though I live in the south of England, I have for some years been a fan of Burnley, admiring the team and club’s old-fashioned grit and style of play.
The recent incident when a plane with a ‘White Lives Matter’ banner flew over the Etihad stadium in Manchester, the furore it has caused and the club’s fulsome apology, the captain’s ‘shame’ – in short, the strange mess you now find yourselves in – raises certain questions in my mind, which I would like to ask you about.
I imagine that Premier League clubs really had no option but to become involved in the BLM phenomenon, despite the fact that politics is supposed to be kept out of sport. Did you have any reservations about such involvement, e.g. the possibility that it might cause more disharmony than harmony?
Did you thoroughly investigate BLM as a movement, the evidence for its assertions and its aims, e.g. disbanding (‘defunding’) the police? Incidentally, do you think this is a good idea that would help black people? Would you like to see it happen in Burnley?
More importantly, if one of your players considered the matter, did not agree in whole or in part with the aims of BLM (or simply did not see himself as representing a fundamentally racist country) and therefore wished not to ‘take the knee’, how would you have dealt with him? Would he have been under a lot of pressure to conform and possibly sanctioned, or would his different view of the matter been sympathetically accepted?
I would be grateful if you would consider these questions carefully and give me some frank answers.