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The subversive brilliance of Marshawn Lynch

The subversive brilliance of Marshawn Lynch


There is no doubt that Lynch gives the game everything he's got and more — we should always remember when we watch football or any other physical, contact sport that we are watching people literally putting theirsafety and lives on the line for our entertainment. So why, on top of all that, does the NFL demand that its players show up at press conferences and answer the same inane questions with a ready smile? 

Sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild defines "emotional labor" as the work we do to manage our emotions so as to produce a desired emotional state in others. We expect pro athletes to paste on a smile and explain why they won, how they lost, what it felt like to fumble the ball or throw that interception that put the other team ahead, minutes after they've been pounded within an inch of their lives.

The NFL doesn't only demand emotional regulation at press conferences, though. It wants its players to behave a certain way on the field as well. Remember last season, when Lynch's teammate Richard Sherman wasfined for taunting San Francisco 49ers players and excoriated by the (mostly white) press for an emotional interview in which, among other things, he crowed to reporter Erin Andrews, "I'm the best corner in the game!" 

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

This is a league that fined him $20,000 for a brief crotch grab in celebration after scoring a touchdown in that championship, yet wasembarrassed publicly when reporters pointed out that the league's official, $150 commemorative poster for that game prominently featured a photo of Lynch, hand on groin. 

Stashed in: Football, Sticking it to The Man!, Seahawks!, @moneylynch

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I didn't realize he did it in the poster too. I guess he got the last laugh. 

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