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Whitlock: Are NFL stadiums primed to serve as catalysts for the purge?

Op-ed
Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

Pittsburgh police are investigating a brawl between a lone black man and a white couple that took place in the stands at Saturday's Lions-Steelers exhibition game.

The melee was captured on a camera phone and shared across social media platforms. Perhaps you've seen the video. It is seemingly everywhere. Here's a link showing the ugly fracas.

You can see a woman standing and repeatedly shouting "shut up" at her husband/boyfriend/friend, then turning to confront the black man, who appears to be bickering with her male companion. She jabs her finger in the face of the black man and tells him to "get the f*** out." The man tells her not to touch him and pushes her hand and arm to the side. She then slaps him.

From there, hell breaks loose. The white couple badly loses a two-on-one fight. Fans scream. Someone uploads a video of the fight to Twitter. The video goes viral. People across social media take sides, debating who instigated the fight. Did the black man unjustly push her first? Did the white woman spark the entire fiasco?

None of that is all that interesting. You can argue either side. I happen to believe the woman wrongly threw gasoline on a lit match. Her male companion was seated and seemed to be doing all he could not to engage with an idiot intent on confrontation. I blame the woman. But, again, that's not really interesting.

What's interesting is my belief that we're going to see more and more of these viral videos throughout the NFL season. Professional football, America's pastime, might turn into ground zero for this country's latest civil war.

The NFL attracts the greatest cross-section of American sports fans. Both good old boys and homeboyz love the NFL. So do the women who love them. The vaxxed and un-vaxxed love watching Tom Brady take on Lamar Jackson. Trump supporters and Trump haters sit next to each other at NFL stadiums.

The differences we used to ignore when we attended sporting events are now omnipresent within our minds. All human interaction is interpreted through lenses that assess skin color, political identity, sexual orientation, gender beliefs, and whatever else smartphones and social media apps have prioritized in our brains.

We used to judge fans by the jerseys they wore. Not any more. We now look much deeper. Does the fan wear a mask? Does he or she wear a mask properly? Does that mask say Black Lives Matter or Trump? Is he un-vaxxed and coughing?

We're all potential lit matches waiting to be sparked. Alcohol and emotion are the accelerants. Maybe women, too.

Two weeks ago, inside Los Angeles' shiny new SoFi Stadium, a similar fan brawl went viral across social media. The Rams and the Chargers were playing. This brawl appears to be between Rams fans. Here's a link to the video.

A guy wearing an Aaron Donald jersey bluffs like he wants to take on a group of fans. He turns his back and begins to walk away. It's over. And then a woman I will affectionately call "Light-skin Lizzo" throws a Pepsi on the back of the guy wearing the Aaron Donald jersey.

From there, hell breaks loose.

Take a look at this angle of the fight. Here you can more easily see the accelerant thrown by Eve, I mean "Light-skin Lizzo."

Maybe these two fights are isolated incidents. Fights have been taking place inside football stadiums for years. However, I suspect we're going to be seeing more of them spill out over social media. America is filled with rage and tension. Despite fewer vehicles being on the road due to the COVID pandemic, traffic fatalities have risen across America. Here's a link to a story about it. Check out this story about a rise in road rage killings.

We're angry. We've been programmed to hate and assume the worst about each other. It feels as if the puppet masters are frustrated we no longer have world wars, so they're promoting civil wars across the globe.

The purge could potentially start at an NFL stadium near you.
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