Shit, I feel like I’m always running from the pigskin, but much like it happens in the horror movies, it always catches me sooner or later and sticks a knife in my ass or whatever.
Why should I be immune to the ‘bitter old man’ syndrome that claims almost every sports fan somewhere down the line? Yeah, I was once 14 and hoplessely excited about anything that involved a bat, a ball or a field, but what can I say, age and perspective conquers all. Those old guys, the ones that told me they couldn’t watch anymore because “everyone makes to much money and changes teams too often and what’s with all the stadiums being named after corporations???” and the like? Those guys where trying to tell me something, but youth is wasted on the young and all that.
I can’t tell you why football is the sport I’ve come to harbor all this resentment toward, it just worked out that way. I can explain what bothers me, but not why it bothers more than everything else that has gone wrong with all these kids’ games we love so much.
Actually, I can. Allow me to get my analogy on.
Have you ever been somewhere, you know, for a show or a sporting event or a party or what have you, and had a look around and thought to yourself “these are not my people”? That’s how I feel about football, and in some ways I probably always have. Most of my problems aren’t with the game itself but with what goes into the production and consumption of it.
I’ve got a problem with the physical toll it exacts on the players, and the price it’s players pay for their gridiron career when it’s all over. It’s not just the concussions and what we’ve learned about how the brain trauma relates to the rash of suicides that have claimed the lives of Dave Duerson, Junior Seau and many others in recent years. The fact that the league is just now truly addressing these problems after years of evidence of a problem, well that’s hard to swallow. I mean, do you think there would have been this kind of uproar over Gregg Williams’ bounty scandal twenty years ago?
Well, since I remember Buddy Ryan doing it twenty years ago and the league not even batting an eye over it, I’d say the answer is no.
That’s not it, either. Hundreds of former NFL players suffer from crippling obesity, a side effect of teams’ desire to make the lineman bigger and bigger. really, most former players have all number of health problems, yet the league’s pension and healthcare problem was has been so fucked for so long that Mike Ditka and others have had to publicly shame them into improving it. Have you ever seen the “Real Sports” piece that details the life of Steve Smith, the former running back who now suffers from A.L.S. and literally can’t move a muscle in his body? I have. If you dare, I’d suggest watching it, too.
Let’s be clear here: Football is not like the other sports. Retired NBA players might have creaky knees or balky backs, but their brains remain unscrambled and their union doesn’t turn their back on them as soon as they hang up the sneakers. Same for Baseball. I’m sorry, but for a sport that is swimming in money and prosperity, that’s a fucking joke.
Yeah, I know. Blah, blah, blah.
Hey, it’s obvious I have a problem with Football, but since it’s existence is all but unavoidable, I’ll watch the games every sunday and even, just maybe, get mildly swept up in the goings on. I’ll keep rooting for the Raiders to be anything but horrible, for the Cowboys to fall on their faces and for the fewest amount of concussions possible. So long as I do my best to give as little thought as possible to everything to everything that is wrong with it, I’ll likely enjoy myself.