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.”