We can pine for a new kind of human being who doesn’t crave violence. Or we can be happy we have the NFL.
I coach football at the high school level and I love the game. It teaches so much to young men about perseverance, toughness, and teamwork. Everything around the game, from the weight room to summer training, helps young men grow up.
I also get a kick out of the media types that don’t have any clue about the history of the game. “It’s become too violent” when the game has never been less violent than it is now.
I think they hit the nail on the head with: “What he missed were those other guys looking back at him in the huddle. Those 11 guys, every one of them, seeing things the same way.”
Male bonding is the emotional tie that is so important, that women get in other ways, and don't relate to. It is the same thing you hear about men in war - the band of brothers mystique. It is why men who come back from war are often adrift, with suicide, drugs, etc. This was captured well in "The Best Days of Our Lives", the 1946 classic.
In order to get that there has to be a common goal, serious danger, and close coordination. The more serious the danger, the stronger the bond.
I have 3 sons: they all played at college and received a broad education thanks to football. They all tried out for the NFL, 1 played 7 years, 1 walked away from it. I have 5 grandsons playing the sport. It teaches them to be part of a whole, resilience, self discipline and a healthy testosterone release. Football has been a family affair and we are grateful for the heartfelt joy as we watch those who give it their best efforts every Sunday. It is not for everyone. Yet another reason to he thankful for many choices of which sports is just one that we have as Americans
For me, football used to be something fun and exciting to watch, and I did for many years. But, I started to tune out during the woke, anti-American rhetoric that has come about in recent years, and now, I know absolutely 0 about my former favorite team (The Redskins), or the NFL in general. Politics penetrating the field, ruined it for me.
Damar Hamlin got tackled, not body slammed. I know his body was in fact slammed into the ground, but in football that is called tackling. Body slamming is a term from sham professional wrestling. Using it in this context implies that Tee Higgins did something improper, which he did not.
I find that another big appeal of football is that it is a uniquely American sport. No other country in the world has a football fandom that rivals America. Baseball was called “America’s pastime”, but Japan and the Dominican Republic now love baseball much more than America does.
But football crosses race and political divides to unite Americans in something that is unique to us.
Growing up in the ‘80 during football season, my mom would make snacks, we’d check the TV Guide to see what networks the Giants and Jets were on, and settle in for a great Sunday afternoon. My brother and I knew all the players. My dad had some sort of work football pool and he’d let us do his picks. Those were tough guys in the field, amazing athletes who got knocked around and got back up again week after week. Is there a ton of money involved? Yes. But an evenly matched football game is one of the most exciting sports events to watch. Lay off, Gladwell. As long as there are men willing to play football isn’t going anywhere.
Why do most of us love football? The truth is that there are men who refuse to be feminized and more than a few women who love and understand that.
I played football from high school up to a touch football league into my 60s. I still play in lacrosse tournaments. Nothing in life compares to the joy and exhilaration of physical competition. Or the camaraderie of the team - where race, ethnicity or political beliefs have no bearing. And where hard work and practice pay off and performance alone is the litmus test. I despise those who argue otherwise or seek to deprive young men and women of the ability to compete fairly and joyfully in physical, athletic contests.
I disagree, that America needs Football (NFL) or any other professional sports.
NFL and NCAA Football have only one goal in mind and that is to make money. Plenty of American cities have been blackmailed by professional teams for enormous tax breaks and new sports arenas, that in the end just benefit rich owners, while average fan is in the and settled with higher taxes and no palpable benefits. We also had situations where owners moved teams that were in cities for decades (best example are Houston Oilers and San Diego Chargers).
Also with constant increase of ticket prices, we are slowly approaching situation where average fan (family of 4) can forget on going to the game, because visit with tickets and some snacks is simply not economicy viable.
Also with all Kaepernick charade (I have no problem with him sitting and protesting during anthem, it is his 1st amendment right), I have completely stoped following major US sports. Why? I don't want to be preached by bunch of millioners on how I am terrible human (for not agreeing with woke topics) all the while those same Leagues are racking money in China and other dictatorships.
Since quitting NFL, NBA, and college sports, I have started watching UFC, and I am much more entertained, it has everything, rags to riches stories (lots of fighters come for very little means), persistence, interesting characters and best of all, nobody is preaching me some BS.
And honestly, what America needs is to stop being "Nation of Watchers" of sports, and go back to be nation of people who do hobby sports more.
I myself after quitting watching pro sports, have joined gym and started running half marathons (both inspired by UFC fighters), best decision I made.
One point you missed is that the game requires a lot of INTELLIGENCE. There is vastly more strategy in this game, vastly more complexity, than any other game I know of. Soccer is not within a thousand miles.
What would have been a more interesting discussion to me is the political interconnection of Roger Goodell, American Leftism, and the extraordinarily corrupt refereeing that sidelined the 49'ers early, and which I read may have enabled the Chiefs to beat the Bengals. The conspiratorial part of me--which any more is a lot of me--wonders if we are being groomed to accept the corruption of even our most truly sacred institutions.
But you didn't watch either of those games, did you? Or see that bad call against the Saints that cost them a trip to the Super Bowl, most likely? Or the bad call against the Niners IN the Superbowl that quite possibly gave the Chiefs their win?
One last point: Japanese Sumo wrestlers also live shortened lives. I read on average they lose about a decade of life. But they live good lives. None of us live forever. I wonder how many people remember that sometimes. And it is quite reasonable for scientifically trained, informed, rational people to believe we all have a soul that goes on.
But that's another discussion entirely.
I don't know if I'd call football sacred, but when I played in high school I discovered that I enjoyed the rough physical contact of running into someone trying to stop me, and learned that the secret of avoiding pain in most cases was to accelerate rather than hesitate. There's something in many young men that wants that contact. It feels great! Maybe that is the heightened consciousness Strauss is talking about.
As one of those kids who knew he was going to do the military for a career at 13, I get it. Nothing else I ever wanted to do. Music, sports, business, boring, I wanted the military. Never looked back and have never come close to regretting it. Would do it again without thinking about it. Can’t explain it and so glad my wife stood right beside me.
I grow weary of the sad story it impacts blacks more. Stop while I wipe the tears for all of the black athletes who made millions when they had the choice of staying in the ghetto. How stupid are these so called elites making the claims. Do they realize the choice is a miserable life in poverty or become an athlete to escape the lousy schools, failed cities and no opportunities. Idiots one and all.
I don’t watch much NFL at all and the sheer amount paid for limited skills makes little sense to me. Think about what we pay athletes versus airline pilots, police, military, nurses, and other people we actually need. Although I can understand football costs versus the obscene amounts paid to shoot a basketball. Will not ever watch the National China Basketball League.
I don’t think we truly need football, as it would be better if people got off the couch to actually do something. But to each their own. I will agree with those crying blacks suffer more from football. The government should step in and mandate all teams in all sports have a racial makeup to reflect the population. That includes white, black, Asian, Latino, and of course 2 percent illegals. What say you critics?
Exceptional writing - a pleasure to read something this well constructed and insightful. I recall a discussion years ago regarding why hazing still persists in some fraternities and how to stop it. A young man who was part of the discussion replied that they felt a desperate (primal?) need to be tested and earn their place. So the discussion pivoted to how that might be achieved in a safer way (e.g., outward bound style activities). Another young man spoke of a challenge activity (offered by a company) he sighed up for where ten of them were dropped off in the Arizona wilderness with minimal supplies and had to get to the designated pick-up location a week later, relying on each other, their wits and yes, physical strength. Then there are the Navy Seals. Point being: many men are still wired in the way men historically needed to be wired, and that instinctive courage can be a very good thing.
In 1910, prominent pacifist and psychologist William James wrote an essay, "The Moral Equivalent of War" in which he proposed a universal enlistment of young men in the pursuit of peaceful societal ends. He did not think contact sports were appropriate because they promoted brutality. His ideas wound up in programs like the 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps and JFK's Peace Corps. Unfortunately, events like World War I and Vietnam overwhelmed James's thesis. Sports, especially contact sports, are important for the development of youth by teaching values of teamwork, self-sacrifice, work ethic, perseverance, loyalty, and good sportsmanship (well, at least at the high school level), but sports are not a substitution or moral equivalent to war. Sports teach values that make effective armies.
My neighbor's "T" shirt read, "If it can't kill you, it ain't a sport."
His offshore boat could hit 115 mph.
His Corvette, (modified) could hit 180.
His Harley could do 100+ which it did each year on his way to Daytona.
He ran a grocery store.
People of every walk of life, even in our wussified society, enjoy the physical thrill of putting ones' self out there.
Ice climbing. Jumping out of perfectly good airplanes. Sitting on a moon-bound rocket. Creaming that fancy-pants quarterback.
And others love to watch.
We're very creative animals.
But animals, still.
Give us a break.
Amen to that. Men need to be allowed to be men and society should celebrate it. Life isn’t safe…whoever says they can or should make it so is either delusional or wants to control you. Also, we are all sick of the deconstructionists telling us everything we love is bad. Debbie Downers sit down. Go Chiefs!