Monday, December 03, 2012

what are we asking of ourselves?

There is a relentless idea amongst the talkers that football is on its way out of vogue. The current lead story is the murder, and follow-on debate, of Kasandra Perkins over the weekend. I’m not going to get into that crime because, as has been stated by many more sane folks, I have no idea what may or may not have caused Jovan Belcher to kill her. A lot of the assumptions are that this is part-and-parcel to hits to the head and brain damage from playing football.  Someday science will answer those questions.
As for sport and violence – there is only one factor that could hold a long-term effect on professional football: parents deciding that they don’t want their children to play the sport and the game withers on the vine.  Fans has shown zero inkling that they are overly concerned with the maiming and health issues related to sport. As for me, I’ve slowly backed off from watching much sport at all, but I’ll still turn on the game and watch for a quarter or half on Saturday or Sunday. I have no idea why. Considering that I’m not fanatical about sport any more, and yet I’m still not willing to go cold turkey, says quite a bit about the American audience. Even though my desire to watch less came from a different point-of-view than the health issue, I have fully taken onboard the scientific support of severe damage being done, but don't fully withhold support. Fans won’t leave the game. Only the disappearance of football – actual erasure from existence – would end player destruction. The purest violence of our sport has grown to a point where we are willing to watch two dudes get in an octagon and literally try to kill each other. (I don’t need any letters to the editor on the violence of MMA or boxing: they are both pretty grotesque. There is no debate on the violence, only a debate on whether or not you’re okay with it.) Our attraction to sport is purely a competitive / standings watching mentality – there is nothing inherent in sport that requires actual human destruction. The Olympics don’t (generally) require it. Loads of non-American- focused sport don’t require it. I have no idea where this will all end up. If we are simply looking for entertainment, and that’s all that sport really is, there are better options. We’ve seen this type of uproar take years to ignite: smoking, the AIDS epidemic, as examples. As Coates so poignantly puts it: “I'm just not up for it.”

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