Monday, November 14, 2011
So here's what I think about football.
A few of you asked and a few of you should probably not read any further because here's where I expound upon football and why I've always hated it and why the recent Penn State atrocity gives one a modicum of license to tell it like it is, at least if you're me. Plus, I have the urge to just tell it like it is, for me. The for me is purposeful, so don't get your panties in a bunch (is that the expression) or go thinking I'm all self-righteous and pretentious (although I can be).
It's what I think. And it's going to be a helluva rant.
I am repulsed by football and always have been except for a brief shining moment when my much-beloved high school boyfriend (hey, Clarke) played it, and the shining moment was not the football-playing but the dates afterward with the boy I loved. I suffered through a few Atlanta Falcons games with my family and many University of North Carolina alcohol-fueled end-zone sitting in the boiling autumn sun with more dates games, but The First husband hated the game as much as I did and The Current Husband is Swiss and thinks it's stupider than anything else in America, so there you go. I've had a history of hating football, and it hasn't stopped yet.
My boys periodically pester me about playing it, and I'm not budging. I tell them NO because of my perhaps irrational fear of head injuries. I tell them that I'm just not up for the risk and having not one but two kids with neurological problems. I know that some of you might think this insane. I also tell them that I think football is a stupid spectacle, and that would include the Super Bowl and the insane amounts of money spent and consumed. Honestly? The Super Bowl, to me, is equal in barbarity to the Roman gladiator games of old. The commercials and all the hoopla about them just add to the sickening disgust. (I told you this was a rant).
Here's what else. I think the Penn State horror show is emblematic of American culture in this, the third millenium where every single thing is a commodity, to be bought or sold or valued in economic terms. I've spoken about this ad nauseum as it pertains to people with disabilities. Those of us in those particular trenches, in fact, anyone who has any kind of healthcare issue, must frame our fight in economic terms to soften the blows, to gently influence, to persuade, to get anything. One must make the case that it costs less to help a family to take care of their child or elderly parent at home than to place him in an institution. Those who oppose the death penalty often say it costs more to put someone on death row than to give them life in jail. Money speaks and it speaks incredibly loudly. There was money to be made when American troops were sent to Iraq ten years ago. I'll only mention the commodification of healthcare -- the industry of depression -- treating patients as consumers, etc. etc. etc.
Those heinous acts at Penn State happened because one perverse man with a sick, sick mind, was protected by those in power because of the economic repercussions of the scandal. Sure, there's a bit of social scandal thrown in there -- the cult of personality and sports, the protection of one's job, one's reputation -- but I think of football as an industry and the wheels must be kept greased, the benefactors satisfied, the wins bought, the show must go on.
You can protest all you like about the entertainment factor of football, what a great game it is, how these boys have worked hard their whole lives to participate, and that might have been true at some point, but it's not true today -- in either college or pro ball. It's about the money, and the monster that lured numerous boys into the hallowed locker rooms of football and then proceeded to rape them was supported by the sick apparatus of American sports. I'd throw in all college and pro sports, actually, and while I don't despise baseball or basketball, like I do football, I hate the whole industry of sports in general. The spectacle of thousands of people protesting and supporting the coach of that team was another emblem of our culture gone awry. For a minute, I thought that all those guys in charge should have just killed themselves -- sort of like the Japanese do, I think, when they've been shamed.
I think the football program at Penn State should be shut down. That would honor the victims and begin to right the wrong. But that's never going to happen because most of us will continue to plead the case that a few bad apples shouldn't spoil the bunch. An attitude that's as American, now, as apple pie.