Alexander Mattison: Confronting Online Racism After Vikings’ Loss

When the Minnesota Vikings faced a disappointing 34-28 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, all eyes turned to Alexander Mattison, the team’s running back. However, this time, the attention wasn’t solely on his on-field performance; it was directed at the disturbing hate speech and racism he encountered on social media. This incident highlights the alarming trend of online abuse faced by athletes, especially Alexander Mattison, a Black athlete who has risen to prominence.

Alexander Mattison’s Experience

Alexander Mattison, currently in his fifth season with the Vikings, stepped into the role of full-time starter this year after Dalvin Cook’s departure during the offseason. Unfortunately, the game didn’t go as planned, and Mattison’s performance received its share of criticism. What followed, though, was deeply troubling.

Taking to his Instagram Stories, Alexander Mattison courageously shared several screenshots of direct messages he received. These messages contained racist slurs, including the highly offensive N-word, and even included messages telling him to take his own life. It’s important to recognize that while athletes are accustomed to criticism, the level of vitriol and hatred in these messages was truly appalling.

Alexander Mattison: Confronting Online Racism After Vikings' Loss

During the game, Mattison gained 39 total yards on 11 touches, but it wasn’t his statistics that sparked this controversy. Instead, it was a late first-quarter fumble, occurring at Minnesota’s own 35-yard line, that seemed to trigger this outpouring of hateful messages.

The Wider Issue

Alexander Mattison’s experience is far from unique. In today’s social media-driven era, athletes regularly find themselves on the receiving end of a relentless stream of hateful messages. This issue is particularly pronounced for Black athletes, who are disproportionately targeted with racist language and threats.

Regrettably, Alexander Mattison is not alone in dealing with such abuse. Alvin Kamara, a running back for the New Orleans Saints, publicly exposed a high schooler who directed racial slurs at him via a message in October 2022. San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel faced racist messages and death threats during a contract standoff with his team last year. In October 2021, Miami Dolphins defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah shared a racist message he received on Instagram following a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Alexander Mattison’s Response

In his response, Alexander Mattison demonstrated a remarkable degree of resilience and maturity. He acknowledged that he can handle criticism, even when fans are upset because his performance may have affected their fantasy football teams. However, what truly disturbed him were the more than 60 individuals who chose to use disgustingly disrespectful language.

Mattison’s message to them was clear: “Really reflect” on the words you use because “this is sick.” His response not only highlights the gravity of the issue but also calls for greater awareness and accountability when it comes to online behavior.

Conclusion

The incident involving Alexander Mattison serves as a stark reminder of the toxicity that can lurk in the shadows of social media, even for high-profile athletes. It underscores the urgent need for action to combat online hate speech and racism directed at athletes, especially individuals like Alexander Mattison.

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As fans and as a society, it’s crucial that we remember that athletes, including Alexander Mattison, are human beings who deserve respect and civility, regardless of the outcome of a game. It’s time to collectively address the disturbing trend of online abuse and work towards creating a safer and more respectful digital environment for all, with a particular focus on protecting athletes like Alexander Mattison from the scourge of online racism.

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