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Together We Make Football - Grantland

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powerful essay

60 percent of America are football fans?!

One hundred eighty-seven million Americans describe themselves as fans of the NFL. That’s 60 percent of the country’s population. Think about that for a second. The NFL makes about $9.5 billion in annual revenue, and Goodell has set a target goal of $25 billion by 2027. So far, damaging controversies have only helped ratings: 20.8 million people watched Thursday night’s game between the Ravens and Steelers — a 108 percent increase over last year’s Thursday Night Football opener; 22.2 million watched Sunday night’s game between the Bears and the 49ers, making Sunday Night Football the most-watched broadcast of the week.

Americans watch football for many reasons — for the memory of the ball in their hands, for the sight of a Hail Mary, for the fantasy leagues, for beer and chicken wings, for the adrenaline rush that comes when they see a wide receiver soar for a catch. Football encourages some deep tremor of romance about what it means to be a man — even, it should be said, among the sport’s many female fans. Save for the military — with which it has a symbiotic relationship — the NFL is the biggest and strongest exponent of American masculinity.

This essay probably brought a tear to many a manly man.

Yes. Did it bring a tear to you, too?

Your post below did. 


Different type of tears!

I've always loved the aphorism, "It's takes a big man to cry..." 

...but not because it works on certain metaphorical levels (I'm neither a half full nor half empty argumentative kinda guy--I don't really care about the math).  More so because that aphorism is a priceless setup for a bon mot follow through:

"...Yes, and it takes an even bigger man to laugh at a big man crying..."

Of course I'm then beating a speedy retreat after lobbing that one to the crying big man... because I've never been the even bigger man and simply can't stifle a chuckle whenever I say that one out loud.

A small man can laugh at a big man crying as long as he's able to run fast. 

It's not advisable to laugh at people, though. That's bad karma. 

My understanding of bad Karma is that such duality of retuning all things to balance only happens when you're invoking and acting on the imbalances of the five passions: greed, lust, vanity, anger and undue attachment to material things.  Otherwise our bank accounts and everyone else's would magically fill up every year simply by spending them down.

From on high it's well regarded: a good sense of humor is always welcome and goes a long way... and as above, so below.

My experience includes many opportunities to get further along that path of developing a good sense of humor by others lending a helping guffaw until I finally get the joke--it's easier for me to laugh at myself when people encourage me along.  And I return the favor.

And I wasn't suggesting the above bon mot be issued in anger.

Fair enough. It's still not a good idea to laugh at people. 

On average that's fair advice in theory, but in practice it's all in how you do it.

Feel free to laugh at me any time: it's much more fun when people laugh along than when you're laughing at yourself alone...practice, baby, practice.

And believe me, I still provide plenty of opportunities for people to laugh at me.  So you'll get your exercise...

This is eye opening.

Domestic violence is not a football problem; it is a societal problem. One in every four women will be a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime. The he-said, she-said nature makes it hard to gather evidence. Domestic violence is one of the most complex and intractable problems that our legal system faces, and it remains a great taboo: Only one-quarter of physical assaults are reported to the police, and often victims don’t want to prosecute. Entangled personal histories and an understandable desire for privacy can make these cases hard. Sometimes women don’t want to cooperate, believing any punishment would harm them as well. Sometimes women throw punches. Sometimes they just want to move on. It can be hard to know exactly what happened. There usually isn’t a tape.

Domestic violence does not happen on a football field. It happens in bedrooms, cars, parking lots, elevators. Intimate-partner violence and sexual assault are epidemic in the military. They are pervasive in Silicon Valley, on college campuses, in small Alaskan towns. They exist in all countries and in all times. Getting rid of football would do nothing to change this.

And yet there are connections between a culture that sidelines women and disrespects them, a culture that disrespects women and tolerates violence toward them, and a culture that tolerates violence toward them and commits violence toward them. Nearly half — 48 percent — of all arrests for violent crimes among NFL players are arrests for domestic violence.

The ending of this article really gave me the feels.

The NFL calls itself a family. If that’s the case, it’s a family of fathers and sons but not wives and daughters. It’s a family that more closely resembles the mob than a family connected by blood or love. It’s a family that protects its own by cutting others, a family that privileges loyalty over what’s right. But loyalty goes only so far in the NFL — because at some not-so-distant point, the family turns into a business. When concussions enter into it, or salary caps, or age, the family becomes about winning Sunday’s big game or about the business’s bottom line. If it’s a family, then it’s a fucked-up family.

The league can educate players about domestic violence, increase penalties, and provide continuing and intensive anger management. It can add more women to the higher ranks and put them in visible positions of power. But it won’t be enough.

Goodell does need to go. As Cris Carter said in his impassioned speech about Adrian Peterson’s alleged abuse of his son, taking a man off the field is what men will respect. It is a show of power, and men respond to power. But getting rid of Goodell won’t change the latent and virulent hostility toward those who don’t conform to the culture’s projection of masculinity, and it won’t change the sport. The violence will still be there. If we take the violence out of football, what’s left?

Right.  Football is a celebration of male aggression.  What should we expect?

We should expect that the field wears them out so they're docile and pleasant off-field. Right?

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