WWSP's "The Alternate Boot!"

Thursday, September 18, 2014

What to Say About the NFL?

What to say about the NFL and all it's problems on the field and off? Why should we care? The NFL is entertainment, and big business. Some of us have "grown up" with football, it's one of the great diversions. It's a violent game. Every play is basically a "car crash;" well-conditioned bodies slamming into each other at top speed. There are estimates that 1/3 of all players are severely damaging their brains by playing the game, and will suffer serious consequences later in life.

So the violence. Can't get around it. Human beings are seriously damaging themselves for money and fame. And millions watch all this for entertainment. Something tells me this can't be "fixed," or "remedied." Violence is embedded in this game. Players continue to get bigger, faster, more muscular. Once you realize how violent, and how damaging the game is, maybe the entertainment value starts to plummet?

Maybe if you start cringing before every play, or start totaling up the casualties every weekend, the fun, the pleasure of watching, vanishes?

And what about "domestic violence," and "child abuse?" (For details be sure to check out Grantland!) Why should we care what NFL players do off the field? Do these issues of violence tarnish the brand? Is it surprising that these men of violence sometimes let this violence seep into their private lives too? Is this all just a "teaching opportunity?"

It's safe to say that knocking your fiancé unconscious in an elevator is not a "good thing." And beating a 4 year old child with a stick, and stuffing leaves in his mouth is not being a "disciplinarian" or an example of "good parenting."

These guys are not "role models," and if we celebrate them for their work on the field, pay them big dollars, and put them on pedestals for their game stats, that doesn't mean that they are "good people," or admirable human beings.

The NFL has a problem. It's an elaborate entertainment and money machine. Millions live and die (emotionally) on each and every play. At the heart of it all is a darkness, a horror. A dark violence. Maybe it's tied up with a primal blood-lust, or some deep tribal need to belong, and to conquer a foe. It's a feature and a flaw of the game. If you open your eyes to it, the feature fades, and the flaw grows brighter. And then you can't look away, and maybe if we are really honest with ourselves, we must.

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