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When you watch football, you are complicit in violent assault

Israel/Palestine
on 49 Comments
Junior Seau

Junior Seau

Is it sadistic to watch football? Yes.

Football is surely the most competitive and exciting popular sport in the States. But it now involves so much violence that it puts a viewer in a dubious moral position.

Sunday was no exception. One conference championship was decided, according to the losing coach, by an intentional blow delivered to a star defender, taking him out of the game. In the second game, we saw a great receiver, Vernon Davis, destroyed on an attempted reception and made a non-factor in the game– Davis a very physical receiver who was sidelined with concussion earlier this year. And another great receiver not catch a ball because he was afraid of the onrushing train (Michael Crabtree, Kam Chancellor). And a great defender, NaVorro Bowman, injured horrifically on a play, because of a crushing hit by a fellow defender that sent the pass receiver into Bowman’s knee.

The press is completely corrupted. As when commentator Troy Aikman says that a devastating hit on Luke Willson should not have been called for a penalty. And after that, Willson was not a factor in the game. Or the moronic article that explained, “Vernon Davis feeling great after concussion”.

The one incident everyone is talking about is Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman’s disgraceful rant about Michael Crabtree after the game. But Sherman’s verbal abuse is just an extension of the physical abuse on the field.

Just as the bullying last year of former Dolphin Jonathan Martin by former Dolphin Richie Incognito is part of the game.

Just as the violent actions of Plaxico Burress and Ray Lewis and Aaron Hernandez grew out of the game.

Just as the premature destruction of the tremendous athletic talents of Michael Vick and Robert W. Griffin III behind weak offensive lines is part of the game.

The entire culture of the game is violent; and it’s time to admit that you as a viewer are in on it. You are complicit.

You can rationalize it as long as you like by saying that the press celebrates it and the advertisers do too. And they are trying to change the rules to make the game less violent– yes, for 15 years now, and it only gets worse.

You can rationalize it by saying that football is war by proxy and people are warlike, that violence is American as cherry pie, or as the late Doris Lessing said society is constituted by violence. But– you’re complicit. And it is worse than what the Romans did to the gladiators because we have replay.

And it does not matter that they are settling suits and changing the rules. Football has created a culture of assault and bullying, with impunity. It destroyed the hero of my youth John Mackey, and, lately, a star of my adulthood, Tony Dorsett, with impunity. It caused Junior Seau to commit suicide.

And the commentators cheer it on:

“Some of it legal, some of it possibly not”– commentator Chris Collinsworth on DeMarco Murray of Dallas putting his head down to spear defensive players from Philadelphia during game on December 29.

“These runs are body blows. You hope by the second half you wear [the defense] down” –Troy Aikman on Fox, on Ed Lacy of Green Bay, pounding the San Francisco line, January 5.

The stars of the game are particularly vulnerable. Consider the carnage of the Denver-KC game, Jan. 6:

Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles left in the first quarter of the Chiefs’ first-round playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts to undergo concussion protocol and will not return

Wide receiver Donnie Avery also left the game because of a concussion. He scored on a 79-yard touchdown reception.

Cornerback Brandon Flowers was helped to the locker room in the third quarter and was being evaluated for a concussion.

Bill Simmons of Grantland says it is only getting worse:

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2014/01/04/4729469/chiefs-jamaal-charles-being-evaluated.html#storylink=cpy

the Bigger, Stronger, Faster era might be having a bigger impact than anything else. These guys are clearly too huge now; the YouTube videos of the 1970s games have little correlation to what we’re watching now…. And let’s be honest — nobody really cares. [The NFL is] cracking down on hard hits, cheap shots and headhunting — a decent start, but nothing that will solve the fundamental problem of NFL players outgrowing a sport that was originally designed for different bodies and different speeds. Whether it’s a coincidence or something more (and I say the latter), it sure seems like we’re seeing more and more injuries to marquee players.

The only good news here is that smart people are on to this. Obama says he wouldn’t let a son play football, and some day the parents will demand change. They won’t send their children into the high school  meat grinders, won’t expose their sons to Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy. On Melissa Harris Perry’s show last fall, she asked, Could football go to flag football? Yes. How long before people say Go to flag football tomorrow. Marry football with basketball, for acrobatic movement, and try and save the spectacle, and the athletes. But that will take years.

Meantime, look at the culprit in the mirror.

You love to watch this game. You can’t wait for the Super Bowl, and Seattle’s Legion of Boom to go after Peyton Manning. You are a party to violent assault.

philweiss
About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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49 Responses

  1. Yserbius
    Yserbius
    January 21, 2014, 11:00 am

    Yes. We should all play soccer (er… football) like those non-violent Europeans and South Americans. We can be very peaceful like the peaceful European football fans. Alternatively, we can be nice and pleasant like Canadian hockey fans.

    • DaraO
      DaraO
      January 21, 2014, 11:31 am

      What a depressingly stupid comment.

      Firstly, this article is about the impact on the protagonists of taking part in a massively violent sport. It has nothing to do with fan violence, which is another issue altogether and simply isn’t referenced in this article.

      Secondly, fan violence in European and South American sports is massively overstated in the United States, and is broadly on a par with violence that takes place at any large gathering of people in those countries. You get more violence on an average Saturday night in a reasonably-sized English town than you do at, for example, an EPL match.

      I regularly attend football matches at a lower level, and, although there are occasional violent incidents on and off the pitch, my level of apprehension is nothing like the level of apprehension I have going out for a drink on a weekend night in, for example, Colchester.

      • mikeo
        mikeo
        January 21, 2014, 12:25 pm

        It’s true, post-pub high street violence in the UK is far worse than anything you’d see at the football – nowadays…

        In the seventies and eighties however it was a serious problem.

        Changes in policing, all seater stadia and the advent of a more family friendly/television oriented game in the Premier League/Sky Sports era have completely changed the culture of football in the UK.

    • amigo
      amigo
      January 21, 2014, 11:31 am

      “Yes. We should all play soccer (er… football) like those non-violent Europeans and South Americans. We can be very peaceful like the peaceful European football fans.”Yserbius

      You could try being a rugby fan.Much less violence (if any) from the fans.Little bit of pushing and shoving on the field where it belongs.

      Speaking of Israeli (Jewish ) soccer fans–try this.

      http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israeli-football-season-opens-violent-racist-attacks-palestinians-return-too

    • Walid
      Walid
      January 21, 2014, 1:15 pm

      “Alternatively, we can be nice and pleasant like Canadian hockey fans.”

      Yserbius, guess you’ve never heard of the street riot and police cars set on fire simply because the team’s star player was suspended 2 weeks before playoffs when he deliberately injured an opponent and then punched the line referee.

      http://ourhistory.canadiens.com/greatest-moment/The-Richard-Riot

      • Memphis
        Memphis
        January 21, 2014, 3:34 pm

        Maurice Richard took a stick to the head, and when he went to defend himself the linesman prevented him from defending himself, so he had to punch the linesman in order to get him to let go of him so he could defend himself.

        Richard was targeted by every goon on all original 6 teams. The league, which was english, did nothing to prevent the star french player from being the target of other teams

        The people in montreal had had enough, their star player was being thrown to the wolves every night and the league was doing nothing about it.

        The suspension was entirely unjust, and unprecedented, and was based on anti-french prejudice.

        The politics in quebec and montreal at the time made for a very tense situation.

        based on all this, the people of Montreal had enough and went to the streets.

        If you really want to disparage hockey fans, why not have chosen the riot in Vancouver a few years back when they lost the cup to Boston and rioted downtown.

      • Walid
        Walid
        January 21, 2014, 5:09 pm

        “If you really want to disparage hockey fans, why not have chosen the riot in Vancouver a few years back when they lost the cup to Boston and rioted downtown.”

        Relax, Memphis, I was just trying to explain to Yserbius that hockey fans are not that docile. I was a Habs fan for many years but after the Rocket retired and the Pocket and Road Runner were still playing.

  2. mikeo
    mikeo
    January 21, 2014, 11:02 am

    Meanwhile in the football where I come from permissible contact has been vastly reduced, yet people still reminisce fondly about the days when, “It was a mans game”.

    Back then this was wasn’t even a yellow card for Graeme Souness, he played for my team Liverpool, an amazing player but a dirty bastard!

  3. amigo
    amigo
    January 21, 2014, 11:21 am

    I will not watch the Superbowl because Soda Stream is involved but thanks Phil for giving me another reason not to watch it.
    Now I cannot be accused of antisemitism.

  4. David Doppler
    David Doppler
    January 21, 2014, 11:35 am

    Off topic, Phil. What? You need to take on another popular cultural institution? Zionism getting too tame or stale, must take on football? Must alienate American blue collar workers, too?

    Stick to the War of Ideas in the Middle East. Focus. You’re having an impact.

    • puppies
      puppies
      January 21, 2014, 1:32 pm

      I think he’s nowhere close to getting it.

    • oneof5
      oneof5
      January 21, 2014, 2:50 pm

      DD opines:

      “… Must alienate American blue collar workers, too?”
      I’m not alienated … rather, I’m actually sympathetic to Phil’s observations.

      Once I was a fan (and even a player in high school for a short time) … then I had children … my oldest – a boy of slim build – wanted to play … it was the popular thing to do … I talked him out of it. He’s now in his 30’s … and not beat up from high school football.

      The older I’ve grown the more convinced I’ve become that sports generally – but particularly at the professional level – are nothing more than part of modernity’s bread and circuses … sophisticated savagery in fine dress.

      I know my time is better spent elsewhere … whether anyone else comes to a similar conclusion is up to them. It’s their world too – and they are free to create it as they see fit.

      • American
        American
        January 23, 2014, 3:39 pm

        ”The older I’ve grown the more convinced I’ve become that sports generally – but particularly at the professional level – are nothing more than part of modernity’s bread and circuses … sophisticated savagery in fine dress.”..oneof5

        Agree. I dont watch professional football any more. I will watch baseball games now and then.
        Football in particular is not a ‘sport’ anymore, its a for profit business hiring brute force.
        Performance enhancing drugs , win at all cost and needless injuries for entertainment.

  5. geofgray
    geofgray
    January 21, 2014, 11:37 am

    i remember in the 60s when jerry kramer, star tackle of the packers, played at 215 lbs. my wife’s father played tackle in the 30’s at notre dame at 185 lbs! i am trying to wean myself off football–world cup soccer helps–but it’s clear the game is no longer viable; it is going the way of boxing. detox is the hard part.

    • philweiss
      philweiss
      January 21, 2014, 12:14 pm

      Pithy and well-put. Thank you geof

    • marc b.
      marc b.
      January 21, 2014, 12:38 pm

      your factual observations are spot on geof, however I don’t agree with your analysis. the decline of boxing due to its perceived barbarity is over stated. in my opinion what has happened is a function of money. back in the day, ‘prize fighters’ were primarily the only potentially rich athletes, with the occasional Olympic or other exception. now most of the gifted athletes who would have competed as a heavyweight boxer see greater opportunities in American football, hockey, etc. same for the lighter weight classes. moreover MMA (which I am admittedly a fan of) is much more brutal in my opinion with elbow blows to the head permitted, strikes to the head and face of a ‘downed’ opponent, etc. I am slowly weaning myself from pro football but not only because of its violence (is there is single series of downs where someone isn’t injured? is there anything more disgustingly hypocritical than Bob Kraft’s weepy public eulogy of poor junior seau?). the political scientist Robert Downey, Jr. famously stated in ‘back to school’ that ‘football is a cryptofascist metaphor for nuclear war’. it may not be that, but it is certainly a metaphor for the worst aspects of consumer capitalism. I spent a great deal of time researching the legal arguments for the unionization of college sports, and in that time I learned that many/most Division I college athletes are shamefully exploited. literally every waking moment of their lives, during the active season of their sport and off season, is micromanaged by the college coaches, and the slightest failure to comply with their obligations (diet, training, social contacts, etc.) can result in the loss of their scholarship. violations of NCAA rules on compensation (e.g making a couple hundred bucks at an autograph session) while the NCAA and member schools make millions is exploitation of the worst kind. at least it can be argued that professional athletes are properly compensated, however even the ‘diploma’ argument for college athletes is empty. many division I schools have pathetic graduation rates for student-athletes, and of those that graduate many have essentially meaningless degrees.

      I could go on and on with the various schemes that undermine the significance of a college education, the public financing of private enterprises, etc. etc. but I would simply say that the whole business of professional sports is a net negative from a social benefits perspective. football is just the most egregious example, with its potential for life changing injury, unguaranteed money, pathetically short careers, lopsided compensation schemes with the top players earning a significant portion of player payroll, those players often being in the most protected positions (see Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. in effect the owners have changed the rules regarding contact with many skill player positions to increase scoring – we want points! – but also to protect their investment in those players).

      ugh. I could write a book. but for more see, I believe Greg Eastabrook who has written on this, and the recent refusal of a federal judge to accept the settlement offered by the NFL to former players who have sued on account of the known risk of long term disability due to head trauma.

  6. bijou
    bijou
    January 21, 2014, 12:38 pm

    And we now no longer have the luxury of remaining unaware of the long-term results of this violence.

    I could not agree more. I would not let anyone I love near football.

    • lobewyper
      lobewyper
      January 21, 2014, 11:16 pm

      I totally agree, bijou. Our family recently welcomed its first grandchild Lucas, and if I can do anything about it, there’s no way this kid will ever play tackle football. (His parents will not need any help protecting this wonderful new life). The sport is barbaric and should be banned.

  7. Krauss
    Krauss
    January 21, 2014, 12:41 pm

    Okay, Philip, but what about hockey? Violence is even cheered on, and referees let fights continue as the screaming mob howls in sadistic joy as the two players beat each other senseless.
    Whenever you talk about this to a hockey fan they get really defensive, oh it’s part of the game etc.
    Yet I don’t see so much discussion about this, while “football” gets a lot of flack.
    (Granted a lot of it is probably because of the sport’s popularity in America).

    Isn’t this human nature? After all, what was the Colosseum for?
    I guess you could make the argument that we’ve progressed to lesser forms of violence but the need is there. We lead such safe lives now that you don’t need blood to excite anymore, unlike the Romans who lived mostly to their 30s in “nasty, brutish and short” lives as Hobbes would have put it.

    But I’m no fan of either hockey or “football”(really just handball with a few token kicks to deserve the name).

    America doesn’t know food. How is American cheese compared to European cheese, for instance? All good food in America is imported from elsewhere.
    America also doesn’t know sports(although we shouldn’t be blind to the idiocy existing elsewhere, yes I’m looking at you cricket).

    Real football, world football, is far more popular for a good reasons:
    It’s a far better, more fun as well as elegant sport.
    It’s inevitable that it will overtake American “football” one day. A key reason is demographics, hispanics, but it’s not just that. People are just starting to understand that as with food, you need to import better sports from abroad.

    • Walid
      Walid
      January 21, 2014, 1:03 pm

      “… hockey? Violence is even cheered on, and referees let fights continue ”

      They let it continue for 2 reasons: to avoid get whacked by getting in between the players, and to let the players get winded by simply doing the dance without actually landing any punches. Actual punches that really find the mark seldom happen in hockey.

      • OlegR
        OlegR
        January 22, 2014, 9:28 am

        Which btw is preferable to letting the players hold the grudge and hunt each other on ice “by the book” which is much more dangerous.

  8. dbroncos
    dbroncos
    January 21, 2014, 12:45 pm

    Broncos 23 Seahawks 17

    • marc b.
      marc b.
      January 21, 2014, 12:59 pm

      you left out the temperature variable. manning will not perform well in the midst of a polar vortex, or whatever they are calling winter weather these days.

    • chet
      chet
      January 21, 2014, 1:59 pm

      Have they legalized weed in your state or something??

      Hawks 27 Broncos 20

      • dbroncos
        dbroncos
        January 21, 2014, 5:42 pm

        @chet

        “Have they legalized weed in your state or something??”

        You wouldn’t think so from the local news coverage. Morality tales about a 2 year old who ate mommy’s weed or a lady complaining of being “smoked out” of her apartment by her weed smoking neighbors. Very little in the way of covering the benefits of legalization: a bonanza in jobs and tax revenues and freeing up the courts from petty weed cases. Local news has only offered a tepid critique of the federal government’s policy of punishing banks for doing business with weed retailers. The results of that policy are that retailers have no banks available to deposit their revenues and are having to leave their stores with briefcases full of cash to stow away in a safe somewhere – an absurd invitation for a variety of crimes far more serious than the alleged crime of growing, selling or smoking weed.

      • chet
        chet
        January 21, 2014, 7:06 pm

        You would think that Obama would let it be known (to those responsible for the rabid enforcers) that they should lighten up.

        Still, all in all, GO HAWKS!!

  9. Kris
    Kris
    January 21, 2014, 12:46 pm

    Thank you, Phil. Forty five years ago, I was walking through Eastwoods Park in Austin, Texas with my two-year-old son, and I saw a woman sitting at a picnic table, sobbing. I asked her if I could help. No one could help her.

    Her son, a high school senior, had died the day before as a result of a head injury in a high school football game. He had been checked out by a doctor following the injury and sent home. “I told the doctor that he wasn’t right, I could tell, but they wouldn’t listen to me.”

    That was 45 years ago, yet the brain injuries and deaths continue. It is depraved to find pleasure in watching people get hurt, even if we call it a “sport.” It is no surprise that we in the U.S. love football, given that we also love books, movies, video games, and television programs that center around violence, cruelty, and sadism. We have created a culture where children are desensitized to violence, and grow up thinking that cruelty, whether physical or verbal, is acceptable.

    That is why we are indifferent to the suffering and horror we inflict on our own citizens who are poor or imprisoned, and on people around the world. We are like the Israeli families who sat out in lawn chairs to enjoy the spectacle of the white phosphorus and bombs falling on the trapped Palestinian families in Gaza: depraved and cruel.

  10. Mike_Konrad
    Mike_Konrad
    January 21, 2014, 1:26 pm

    I totally agree.

    Football is gratuitous violence.

    • libra
      libra
      January 21, 2014, 4:18 pm

      Mike, we can only hope Phil doesn’t stumble across NASCAR racing whilst idly channel flicking and notice all the gratuitous crashes.

  11. chet
    chet
    January 21, 2014, 2:03 pm

    Simmons hits the nail on the head — the human body is not built to withstand 250 lb. running backs and 320 lb. linemen who are as fast as 1970’s wide receivers.

  12. bilal a
    bilal a
    January 21, 2014, 2:28 pm

    Junior Seau left as a suicide note the lyrics of ‘Who I Aint’: warning to Christophobes:

    ***http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyjZ2ixPpzI

    • marc b.
      marc b.
      January 21, 2014, 3:22 pm

      FOXBOROUGH — Patriots owner Robert Kraft, fighting back tears, read a note that Junior Seau sent him last year, a few weeks after Myra Kraft passed away. Kraft met with the media at Gillette Stadium today, sharing his memories on the former Patriots linebacker, who died yesterday of an apparent suicide.

      “Junior was one of those special people who came through our locker room,” Kraft said. “We always knew his real family, he was really a Charger. Even when he was here we knew in the end he would be a Charger; but we were pretty close first cousins, because the years he spent here we felt like he was a true Patriot.”

      Kraft held a note, with the logo of Seau’s charitable foundation on the front, and read what the 12-time Pro Bowler said, struggling at times to keep his composure.

      “I went back to my records, because having suffered the loss of my sweetheart, he sent me something within a few weeks of Myra passing. He said, ‘I’m so sorry about the passing of Mrs. Kraft, she was an inspiration to me. I have so much respect for all she did to help people lead better lives. I’ll always be there for you and your family. Junior Seau – Love you, buddy,’ and he enclosed a very generous check to the Myra Kraft Giving Back Fund.

      “So here’s a guy who represented everything that we liked, how he conducted himself in an unselfish manner, in the locker room.”

      Kraft said he marveled at Seau’s ability as a motivational speaker in team meetings and in the locker room, and recalled always seeing him after games.

      “Nobody ever squeezed me harder after every game and hugged me in the locker room. He just really was a special guy.

      “It’s a message to all of us, to make sure we hug and squeeze the people we love. The people you love, make sure they know it every day.”

      so seau shoots himself dead because he is so distraught over the prospects of his bleak mental future due to trauma-induced brain damage, and kraft is praising him for his skill at motivating others to run full-steam, head first into steel and shatter proof plastic-clad mesomorphs. sniff. sniff.

  13. just
    just
    January 21, 2014, 2:44 pm

    Thanks Phil.

    I’m always bemused at the choice of “heroes” and “heroines”. I get it that sports is one way to strike it big…….and become an idol. I also get it that the military is another way some choose to make it and engender respect. Since really none of the US wars in my lifetime were fought for freedom… I feel sorry for the drafted and enlisted.

    I prefer the likes of Mohammed Assaf and Medea Benjamin, Edward Said, James Earl Carter, The Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, MLK, Desmond Tutu, Paul Wellstone, the folks at MW (and so many others working for peace and justice…..).

    I wish that we, as a people, would promote the department of peace instead of one rife with violence. I would love to live in a country that celebrates peace rather than war. Peace & nonviolence & justice, it seems, is just not sexy, nor worth the effort, to the average American.

  14. Don
    Don
    January 21, 2014, 2:57 pm

    Great article, Phil.

    And its” not hard ar all to stop watching. I stopped after the birth of my first son…do I spend Sunday afternoons watching “other people”s sons” beat the daylights out of each other…or do I spend the time with my son? It was an easy choice. That was 23 years ago.

    What surprised me was…now that I have the time to watch again (my sons now have better things to do than spend time with their dear old dad)…I found the game had changed so much it is “unwatchable”. At least for me.

    For all the reasons you mention, Phil…and many others.

  15. Xpat
    Xpat
    January 21, 2014, 3:19 pm

    We were driving past the big football stadium and this is how I explained it to my pre-school child:
    Lots and lots of people come to watch a bunch of people play with a ball. There is only one ball. But only 20 or so players get to play. Everybody else just sits on the side and watches. The 22 people fight over the ball constantly. Some of the people who try to get the ball get boo-boos from the other people.
    She got it. At least for now.

  16. UshPhe
    UshPhe
    January 21, 2014, 4:05 pm

    This is a message that just needs to be repeated over and over and over again. Imagine if this was posted on ESPN. I’d dread reading that comment section. The familiar BS refrain “They knew what they were getting into” blah blah blah. Yeah well you blathering idiots know what you’re getting into as well which is reveling in the spectacle of young men cripple their bodies, destroy their minds, and guarantee themselves a life filled with immense pain and suffering all for a few years of glory and big money. The truth is the game wouldn’t exist with you. You are the fans. You are responsible.

  17. Memphis
    Memphis
    January 21, 2014, 4:23 pm

    Interesting choice of words

    describing football as violent, you immediately have judged sport

    violence always carries with it a negative connotation. I guess it’s obvious that are a not a fan

    but football is not violent, nor are watchers complicit in said violence

    Violence has a goal, an intent, which differs entirely from the goals and intent in football. Violence purpose is to hurt, injure, kill, maim etc. Football’s goal is to score points, to advance the ball, to win the game. There is no goal to injure, or kill or hurt the other player (and please don’t bring up bounty gate, it was an isolated incident that was punished and highly criticized)

    Football is a physical sport, and like all physical sports, no, like all sports there is the chance for injury. But it is not a violent sport. For a sport to be violent then it’s stated goal would be to hurt or cause injury, and that is not the goal of any of the 4 major leagues in North America

    if you don’t like the game, don’t watch it. It will go on without you, long after we are all dead and gone.

    And to those comparing football to gladiators is a fools errand. But I guess it helps to advance your point that football is violent. Except that they are completely different

    These men get paid millions of dollars to play a sport they love, they are not forced to play, they are not out to hurt each other, to kill each other, they are out to win the game, and play within the rules of the game. They know it’s a physical sport, they know the chance of injury, and they still love to play the game. To call it violent is an insult to these players and to all players of the sport, whether it be NFL players or little 8 year kids in the community house league.

    You’re judging them, you’re calling them violent, you are saying something about their character as people, and it is not right.

    Sherman came from violence, he saw real fucking violence, where the goal was to kill, to eliminate the other person, and he made it out the concrete jungle of Compton to attend Stanford University and get a 3.9 GPA average in communications. And you have the audacity to call him, and his sport violent!!!

    Get real. Change the channel. Stick to writing about something you know about.

    • marc b.
      marc b.
      January 21, 2014, 6:57 pm

      Please, Memphis, that’s a load of dissembling crap. Football is a violent sport played by violent men. It can be extremely entertaining, as can movies filled with murder and mayhem, but you’re just plain wrong. The intent to injure and intimidate is integral to the game. (And just listen to the candid descriptions of punches to the groin, eye gouging and all the other thuggish behavior at the bottom of any pile of players, and all your weepy-eyed honorable warriors horse bleep goes out the window.). As for the millions of dollars they get paid, most NFL careers are brief multi-hundred dollar affairs with few lucrative options after retirement before the age of 30. crippling and concussive trauma, resulting from legal hits or not, equals violence.

      • marc b.
        marc b.
        January 22, 2014, 7:33 am

        Ope. I meant hundred thousand dollar.

    • UshPhe
      UshPhe
      January 21, 2014, 7:04 pm

      first of all…what the heck do you need to curse for? second of all, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to talk about the violence of football. what now I need an advanced degree to be able to judge whether or not football is violent? honestly people who defend against football’s detractors act like they’re part of some exclusive club in which only they can understand the enigma that is……football. seriously get over yourself. it ain’t politics. and i’ll admit even that’s not hard to understand.

      the science says its violent and it leaves these guys with lower quality of life and pain for the rest of their lives. all you talk about here is intent. intent doesn’t matter. the entire mechanism by which the game functions is slamming bodies, yeah I would call that violent..anyone thinking logically would call that violent. The game is violent. baseball is not violent except in one instance (sliding into a base). soccer is not violent except in certain instances. Basketball yes to a certain degree but not even close to the degree that football is violent. hockey…yes very violent and those fights are just so embarrassing… in football you’re slamming bodies all the time. If you’re not slamming bodies at high speed on every single play, then you’re not playing football. it’s just an inherent part of the game

      one definition of “violent”- Marked by, acting with, or resulting from great force

      by that definition football is violent…you’re like a million other football fans in this country…someone who consciously refuses to think rationally when it comes to the game he or she loves.

      “if you don’t like the game, don’t watch it. It will go on without you, long after we are all dead and gone.”

      you seem not to understand that I don’t dislike football like I dislike sayyyy…brussel sprouts or chicken liver.it’s not a matter of personal taste. for me and for many commenters here it’s a moral issue. that makes this comment essentially useless to your argument.

      “You’re judging them, you’re calling them violent, you are saying something about their character as people, and it is not right. ”

      1)So now you’re banning people from judging other people just because you may not like their judgments. Wow. Very whiny of you.
      2) Do I think football players are inherently violent? No, of course of not. Just like Zionist ideology makes Israel a violent society, football certainly inculcates in its fans and in its players certain violent tendencies…even in their speech…just go to the ESPN comment boards….criticize football…and next thing you know you’ll have someone cursing you out and calling you a pansy and a pussy cause you’re not man enough for this wonderful game.

      “To call it violent is an insult to these players and to all players of the sport, whether it be NFL players or little 8 year kids in the community house league.”

      No I’d say an insult to an 8 year old is getting a concussion and violent head injury when he’s eight years old. if you cared about the kid more then your precious game you would agree with me…but obviously your game is more important.

      You are complicit in violence. You say players choose to play the game. Well guess what genius. You choose to watch it. You choose to pay good money to buy tickets. You know the risks too. Professional sports can’t survive without its fans. If there were no fans, it wouldn’t matter how many guys were already coming through the pipelines to play in the NFL. It wouldn’t matter how much NFL talent there was out there. You don’t show up. You don’t watch. The games don’t happen. So yes you are complicit. Unless of course you don’t believe in free will.

  18. Keith
    Keith
    January 21, 2014, 6:05 pm

    PHIL- “And it is worse than what the Romans did to the gladiators because we have replay.”

    Surely an exaggeration, however, football as the modern equivalent of gladiatorial contests seems reasonably accurate. It performs the same function as well. A vicarious, simplified reality providing escape from the real world. It is one of my criteria for assessing a society’s potential for grass-roots change. A high level of emotional investment in meaningless sports is indicative of a citizenry incapable of confronting harsh reality, preferring escapism instead. Not that sports are bad, per se, but that a sense of perspective is in order. Trouble is, too many fans are fanatical, totally immersed in the “reality” of their sports world. Neoliberalism? Who cares.

  19. Talkback
    Talkback
    January 21, 2014, 6:54 pm

    This article was posted in “Israel/Palestine”. Any explanation?

    • just
      just
      January 21, 2014, 7:06 pm

      I read it as a post about gratuitous violence that is “America’s sport”. Kids are being hurt. It’s gotten pretty darn ugly.

      I’m throwing in with Mr. Shenfield below.

  20. Stephen Shenfield
    Stephen Shenfield
    January 21, 2014, 7:01 pm

    Kicking a ball around a field can be fun as well as good exercise. Abolish professional sports but encourage amateur sports for everyone. Either on a completely non-competitive basis (without anyone keeping score) or with competition constrained by a requirement for good sportsmanship. By this I mean that the referee assesses the two teams for sportsmanship. If both teams reach a high standard of sportsmanship the winner is the team that gets the most goals. If only one team reaches the required standard that teams wins, regardless of goals. And if there is foul play on both sides both teams are declared losers!

  21. RoHa
    RoHa
    January 21, 2014, 7:48 pm

    “You can rationalize it by saying that football is war by proxy ”

    I have long claimed that competitive sport in general is a surrogate for war, but uses less humane means.

  22. HPH
    HPH
    January 22, 2014, 7:08 am

    I don’t agree with the two lead sentences. I don’t feel like a sadist if I watch football.

    I do agree with the general theme of the article. The violence is one concern. However, the long-term effect of severe injuries is the bigger concern to me. I’m thinking of the head injuries mostly, but also the knee injuries.

    I speak as a person who has done sports for approximately 50 years now starting with football and baseball, evolving to handball and now also much basketball. My absence of severe football injuries allows me to continue to play basketball against the young guys. I played on the practice team against YMCA players last night.

    I was watching during the knee injury on Sunday night. I didn’t watch any of the replays because I already knew enough about the injury. Last night, as I was finishing my warmups (the key to playing as an older person), a young guy was taken away by paramedics after a collision in a basketball game. Neither of these injuries by themselves would keep me from these sports.

    Physical intimidation is part of many of these games. I play a “physical” game of basketball. On Sunday a young guy seemed to send me a “message” with a hard collision early in the first game. Both of us pretended to not notice, but others responded right away with comments. These comments were immediate feedback from the community about over-the-top violence. I was more aware of my box-outs and picks after this incident.

    Usually we can control our emotions to make the violence controlled. In fact, I think many amateur athletes use games as therapy to reduce the possibility of uncontrolled violence. This is a common observation as we are saying our farewells after having played the games.

    Every sports person, especially players who are parents, expresses concern about football when I bring up this same subject. We all have heard the various news stories. We may have forgotten the names and the details, but we have a sense that football has too much uncontrolled violence that leads to lifelong injuries. This feeling takes away much of my enthusiasm for football. I assume that a poll would show a decline of enthusiasm in a population of fans.

    Finally, I note that the NFL seems to be ignoring the concerns of the fans and former players. I could be wrong, because I don’t follow the details, but it seems to me that they are like AIPAC and similar organizations.

  23. mcohen
    mcohen
    January 22, 2014, 8:36 am

    Pocket billiards is my favourite sport…….improves ball handling skills and no head injuries.
    Seriously,get rid of the helmets and plastic pads and that will end the head injuries

  24. Chu
    Chu
    January 22, 2014, 1:43 pm

    Football evolved out of rugby. Sure the hits from other players can be bad, but no one is cheering when a player is injured. Football does not glorify the injuries. QB’s are much better protected today than 5 years ago.

    Every sport that is dangerous in some way draws an attraction. I watch motorcycleGP every year, because it is an exciting race, not because I want to see injuries.

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