THE END OF FOOTBALL?

A letter sent to a writer at The Wall Street Journal who wrote a sports-section feature on whether football was on the verge of becoming obsolete in America:

“Well, have to give you credit for touching the third rail of our culture.  The part you neglected, though I am confident you did so for a good reason, was the part about how football is metaphor for life, especially American life.  Not in its presentation of recurring gigantic entertainment spectacle, like a weekly fireworks display with the 1812 Overture as soundtrack, but in its representation of the warrior spirit that allowed us to defeat the British, prevail in two major world wars, and generally scare the pants off people thinking of messing with us.  I am among the millions who consider football a way of celebrating those who are sufficiently strong and fearless that we can depend upon them to keep us safe and secure.  I want my soldiers, airmen, fire-fighters, and policehumans to be fit and strong and brave, willing to give up their bodies and their lives to protect us.  I want my football players to remind us that we have a culture that still has a martial spirit, that can still lead us in important ways.

“In my opinion, if we neuter football, emasculate it, we make a huge mistake.  Yes, there are ways to continue to reduce its risks.  Helmets could be better, or as some suggest, we could outlaw face-masks and make the helmets less safe; lots of former players suggest that the weaponization of the helmet (i.e., the head) resulted from improving the helmet to a point where people were willing to use it as a weapon.  For that matter, we could instantly cut the risks dramatically by strengthening the rules against spearing and by consistently and uniformly and rigorously enforcing such rules.  But in the end, I want football to involve risk, a lot of risk.  Even if one wanted to live in a country without football, we would not exactly be living in paradise; we would be living in a way-less secure nation, one our enemies would quickly re-assess.”

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