Edit desk: Long live football

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The NFL has been a staple in American culture since its founding in 1920.

John Lindenau

There is nothing more American than sitting down on your couch on a Sunday with a cold beer in your hand to watch your favorite team stick it to its rivals.

Recently, however, football has been under scrutiny.

In the past few years, football has been put under a microscope by the public. Doubts about the sport’s future have been brought up in the wake of issues like the kneeling protests, possible blackballing and the injury risk that players subject themselves to just for our entertainment — not to mention millions of dollars.

You have to take a look at the influence of football before you can even begin to talk about the sport losing its influence.

For decades the NFL has brought in record-breaking views and ratings, with millions of people tuning in every Sunday.

The Super Bowl alone is one of the most-watched sporting events in the United States, and one of the biggest spectacles in the U.S. to ever hit TV. People who may not even be fans of the sport gather for Super Bowl parties for the experience and commercials.

Football has wound itself into American culture so tightly that it has become almost inseparable.

Football is a huge part of my identity. I fell in love with the sport despite its flaws. When I first tuned into an NFL game, I was sucked into the atmosphere and competition of it all.

There’s something about the NFL that makes you feel as though you are a member of a global community.

I even refer to my team, the Kansas City Chiefs, as “us” and “we” in conversation, and no one ever calls me out on it.

My football team has become so much more than a sport — it is part of who I am.

Football has such a strong hold on people’s consciousness that I truly don’t believe we can ever fully break it off of us. People become so buck-wild about the sport that they will do everything they can to support their team. Friends will even fight each other over rivalries.

So when I hear people talking about canceling their season tickets because of controversy, I know there will always be hundreds of other fans who are willing to take their spot.

This isn’t to say the NFL doesn’t need to change its tune and rules to adapt to changing American environment.

If the NFL hopes to continue to grow in the future, changes must be made.

The NFL has a duty to its consumers to be more upfront with its positions on controversies.

The NFL has been slow with responses regarding controversies, the most recent example being the entire Colin Kaepernick debacle. Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutality against people of color, and now there are claims that he may be being blackballed for it. When issues such as these arise, the NFL cannot prolong their response. It needs to state its position as soon as possible.

Too often the NFL is content with sitting back and hoping that with time, issues will just disappear and the public will eventually forget. Take a look at the Ray Rice video tape incident. The NFL responded to this case of abuse with a simple two-game suspension. It only suspended Rice indefinitely when a second video came out to the public showcasing Rice punching his now wife in the face.

I love the NFL and I love football, but it is not perfect.

Situations like these test your passion for the sport, and unless the NFL begins to address the public with its stance as soon as it can and increases its transparency when it comes to discipline, it may become too much for fans to take.

But it’s not as though the NFL has not adapted to the changing times in the past, at least when it comes to the sport itself. If you were to watch an NFL game from the 1970s, you would see a much different sport than you do when you tune in today. Every single game was much more defense orientated, with extremely low scores being the norm for the game, and offense taking a back seat.

Football has adapted into a much more offensive-orientated sport, like when forward passing was allowed to increase the pace of the game to make the sport more interesting to a fast-paced America. 

Even this year, the NFL has changed its rules to protect players from being hit as hard as in previous years, reducing concussions and player injuries. In this way, the NFL is making a conscious effort to change the sport to fit today’s culture.

As long as the NFL continues to be aware of the environment of modern America and continues to adapt to the environment, I truly believe football will not die as a sport.  

The sport will continue its hold over American culture and identity. There is nothing holding football back from continuing its dominance over the sports world, except for a lack of willingness to change. I am extremely excited for the future of football and all the changes it may bring.

John Lindenau, ’20, is the deputy sports editor for The Brown and White. He can be reached at [email protected]

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8 Comments

  1. Oh, have some more!

    – NFL, giant wealth factory of who the hell cares if players beat the living daylights out of their spouses and children.

    – NFL, encourager of parents to put their kids in a brain-damaging sport.

    – NFL, encourager of the kind of kids impoverished by the revoltingly wealthy horrors at the top, luring them into “collegiate football careers” that aren’t collegiate, cause permanent brain and other bodily injury, offer almost no hope of any kind of career, and…for what? So these guys can make even more money.

    – NFL, favorite of your garden-variety American white-guy racist.

    You really enjoy watching people of color literally bash each others’ brains out for your pleasure and entertainment? You’re in college, right? Here you go. Your assignment’s Chapter 1.

    https://www.amazon.com/Invisible-Man-Ralph-Ellison/dp/0679732764

    Incidentally, one of my roommates at Lehigh was a football player. Know why he picked Lehigh? Because the team sucked. He actually wanted to get an education, not a beating. So he picked a school that wasn’t serious about football, and when he got out of college, he went and had a professional career. I work now at a school that is serious about football. The recruiters stalk children in their math classes. Texting them with come-ons. Creepiest thing I ever heard about — from one of the recruiters. Now, they are very serious here about seeing that the athletes look like real students. Are they? Some are. And some are being used, damaged, and thrown away. Some of them don’t even know how far they are from being able to go to college.

    Still enjoy football, or is it time to find something else to enjoy?

    • Current Student on

      I still enjoy football. People (at least in current times) understand the risk and rewards of playing, even in high school. No one is forcing them to play, so they do it because it’s fun and they may think that they could have a future in it.

      Do you no longer enjoy movies because they are made by degenerate leftist pedophiles and sexual abusers? I hate nearly everyone in Hollywood as a human being, but if they have talent, I’ll watch their movies because I can separate the two sides of them. Do I think that famous people get away with things like drugs and abuse more than the average person would? Obviously. But does that mean I will abandon or stop enjoying what they produce? No, because I support what they produce.

      • Amy Charles '89 on

        Well, it’s an interesting question.

        Years ago, _Manhattan_ was one of my favorite movies — the cinematography’s gorgeous. When I rewatched it several years ago, though, I was seriously crept out by this 40ish guy basically stalking and negging a teenager into being his sex plaything. And this sort of thing’s in movie after movie. When the director is in fact an abusive perv, it comes out in his artistic work, and swamps it. You could say the same about the painter Balzac, whose accomplished work has been turning my stomach for decades. I would not be at all sorry to see his paintings go from museums, and open up the space for others of equal or greater talent. Plenty exist. (Their politics are not especially germane. Great artists are usually politically naive but complex artistically, wherever they hang out. Which is why fascist and authoritarian regimes treat them so badly: they’re too personal and complex to be useful as propagandists.)

        I’ve spent most of my life with highly talented people. Top arts program people, major symphony people, Guggenheim and MacArthur winners, even the odd Nobelist. They’re not rare. There are over seven billion people on the planet, and we wind up with more highly talented people than we know what to do with. I mean that in a literal sense. You will not have time, in your lifetime, to appreciate or even look at all the talent that exists.

        You don’t have to waste your time on people who damage their own art with vileness towards other people. I suppose if you’re interested in vileness as a theme, people whose work is actually about vileness, well, Houellebecq awaits, and so do many others. But if it’s not what you’re into — and you’d best admit it to yourself if you are, and examine carefully why that’s so — then there’s no reason to spend your time with them. You have so many more fine artists to choose from.

        It’s a warning to artists, too: think carefully. Be humane. Consider carefully what you’re saying, doing, and whether you’re being violent in some way, and if so why. Because to go through everything it takes to produce something worthwhile, meaning you have the talent and abilities to do it in the first place, and then to make it unreadable, unwatchable, for future audiences because you are in some manner abusive or dismissive or joyfully prejudiced, or even casual in your ugly prejudice…what a waste, when those audiences finally catch up to the point where these things are plainly audible and visible to them in your work.

        As for your “no one is forcing them” — how much time have you spent with these players? I work at a Big Ten university. I’ve taken classes with football players. These are not students: these are working men. They are serious and talented working men. They’re also very young and extremely poor, and to them $25K and some fictional shot at the majors looks like a fortune of money and opportunity. It’s not hard to take advantage of them — and that’s precisely what NCAA, the schools, and the audiences do.

        The next time you say “no one is forcing them”, by the way, about someone who’s poor and working for no money, ask yourself who’s forcing you to take advantage of their willingness to be robbed. Who’s forcing you to enjoy their brain damage, their wrecked bodies and future poverty? That’s a line rich people use to go on exploiting people, “no one is forcing them.”

        As for the kids having their brains damaged, here: read this and ask yourself how much choice this kid had. I see a lot of kids like this. Muscle-suit kids, I call them. Dad’s always there in the background somewhere, messing the kid up like crazy. All the way to brain damage and death, in this kid’s case.

        https://www.gq.com/story/the-concussion-diaries-high-school-football-cte

        • Current Student on

          No one is forcing me to enjoy it. Plus, these kids are being paid in scholarships, so they’re making about 65k more than me. But no, I’m not being forced to enjoy football. I choose to enjoy it because I find it exciting and fun to watch these super human athletes compete against each other. I do agree the NCAA takes advantage of these guys, but again, it’s not a big secret, it’s pretty well known. They make the decision themselves, and if they don’t want to permanently damage their brain, they don’t play football. Simple as that. If they think the potential of millions of dollars is worth it to them, why am I supposed to not enjoy their decision?

          Why should what I find entertaining be dictated to me by someone else who I don’t even know?

          • Amy Charles '89 on

            The “you’re not the boss of me” is strong in this one.

            Of course I’m not, and neither is anyone else at this point. But if no one is forcing you to enjoy a spectacle that you know is seriously destructive to people who have few options in life, then if you’re at all thoughtful and not entirely selfish, you’ll ask yourself why you’re enjoying it despite the damage it does the people involved. Why you enjoy witnessing the events that will leave them damaged, sometimes seriously damaged, for life. What it is about you that enjoys such things. Particularly when the people providing you with the entertainment are so often black and poor.

            Most of the players are not at Lehigh-type schools; they’re doing this for around $25-30K a year, which you’d find an insulting salary even if it weren’t for work that’s harder and more dangerous than you’re ever likely to do. They’ll have nothing at the end of it except, if they haven’t been injured and lost their scholarships, a BA they likely haven’t earned, few job skills, and expensive health problems they can’t pay for.

            You seem to be deliberately not hearing why people do work like this. Or why they used to do equally dangerous work in steel mills. Before we go any further with this: did you grow up in a poor or working-class household, by which I mean your HHI was US median or below?

            • Current Student on

              I enjoy them because they are exciting. Same reason you enjoy doing whatever you like to do. Anyone can find something bad with almost anything.

              And I’m the selfish one for watching people who make millions of dollars a year play a sport they enjoy? Sounds like I’m really getting the good end of the bargain.

              Sheesh, these facists keep trying to tell us what we can and can’t enjoy, I’m expecting to have my door knocked down and someone tell me I committed a thought crime.

            • Amy Charles '89 on

              Okay, so no, you grew up well-off.

              Yeah, I enjoy exciting things. When it becomes clear that they’re exciting because people without many options are getting seriously hurt, they’re no longer exciting. Then they’re repugnant. Because — and hang tight and follow me here — it’s bad when people get seriously hurt.

              Is this a thing you have a problem with, or are you now going to tell me that it doesn’t matter that people get hurt because…uh…somewhere else someone else is getting hurt, which, in a logical leap, means it doesn’t matter that anyone’s getting hurt. (Except you, because presumably if you wind up seriously injured, that matters.)

              • Current Student on

                A lot of NFL and college football players grew up well off. They could afford better diets, better training, and could go to elite schools. So not, they aren’t here because it’s their only option.

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