Thrown For A Loss

boycott-nfl-nba I hate pro football. There, I’ve said it. It may be America’s favorite sport, but it just pisses me off. This is a feeling that has been growing for quite some time–and I used to be the kind of person who would watch pro football on Sundays from noon until 7 PM and then detox the next day w/ Monday Night Football. But this was when I was in my teens, before ESPN, sports-talk radio and the internet turned sports into a 24-hour/day pastime.

I’m not an anti-sports person. I find my ire directed solely at the NFL and its enablers. I can’t wait for the Red Sox to get to spring training, for the NBA playoffs, for Syracuse University to make a deep run and potentially win the NCAA college basketball tournament. But I’m not going to watch the Super Bowl.

The other day, I heard someone on the local sports talk station mention that pro football is the key to success in his business, that the NFL even rules off-season ratings for things such as the coach hiring/firings; rookie draft, training camp and hell, even the announcement of the next year’s schedule. All of these events bring ratings and attention and chatter on radio and the internet.

I don’t agree with conservative political pundit George Will on very much–but I wholeheartedly agree with his assessment of football:

“Football combines the two worst things about America: it is violence punctuated by committee meetings.”

I would add the following things that trouble me about pro football:

  • The NFL’s soul resides in Corporate America–maximize profit, extort tax benefits and free stadiums from hard-pressed municipalities, play hardball with organized labor.
  • What kind of sport is better on TV than in person?
  • While the NFL’s soul may reside in corporate America, it vacations in Vegas. Gambling and football are practically conjoined twins.
  • Everything about the sport screams conservative–the attitudes of its players, coaches, owners and fans just seem to be scripted by Fox News.
  • It is increasingly hard to find any entertainment in a sport whose retirees look forward to a future defined by traumatic brain injury, loss of impulse control, health crises, suicide, divorce, bankruptcy, drug and alcohol addiction.

If everyone loves something, I immediately become suspicious and critical. As Mark Twain once said:

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

4 thoughts on “Thrown For A Loss

  1. Pitchers and catchers report in less than two weeks, Phil.

    Smart post, here. You’ve almost gone and spoiled the Super Bowl for me. I intellectually know what you’re saying is right. But I have an emotional attachment to pro football that started when wild child Joe Willie Namath QB’ed my upstart AFL Jets over crew-cutted Earl Morrall and the oh-so-conservative Baltimore Colts of the NFL. I guess I got hooked for the right reasons, at least.

    Hope all is well.


    1. Mark: I didn’t want to rain on anyone else’s parade. I also don’t know what I’ll do when (or if!) the NY Giants (my team since childhood) ever make another run for the Super Bowl. I’m just so down on the whole NFL experience and the hype machine that I had to jot something down about it.

      But you’re right about one thing–Life begins again when pitchers and catchers report!


  2. I, too, dislike the superbowl. In particular the over-hyped base-level marketing thing just gets on my nerves. I know what I like and don’t need marketing campaigns to lead me around by the nose. Like you, though, I have my likes but they are elsewhere and generally located where my own stick hits the ice.


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