Football is awful.
The other day I was listening to Tiki and Tierney, a sports talk show on CBS Radio. It’s one of those rare sports talk shows where they actually talk about sports and both commentators are not only knowledgeable, but conscientious.
The day the story about LeSean McCoy came out, Tiki and Tierney spent their show talking about the various issues involved, from the veracity of the claims to the potential fall out, to any number of theories as to what really happened.
The Tiki of Tiki and Tierney is Tiki Barber, former running back for the New York Giants. He knows football. He played football for a decade and he was really good at it.
Their discussion ultimately landed on the issue of whether or not men who are already violent play football or if football makes relatively stable men more violent. Barber was definitive on this: the game makes men more violent.
It would be hard to argue anyone that point, let alone someone who played the game for so long.
It is a horribly violent sport and it seems to promote the absolute worst impulses in men, regardless of what Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights might try to tell you.
Feel free to read about the concussions that happen because of the game. It’s so bad that former players have killed themselves due to the damage done to their brains.
Every year the NFL rolls out more and more rules in an effort to keep their players safe, and every year fans and pundits complain that the game has changed for the worst.
Because people want blood. And because those who lived through the arena want everyone who comes after them to face the same fight. It’s stupid and barbaric but it’s what we are as a country.
There is nothing good about the sport of football.
Growing up, the start of the college football season was a big deal. It was the first sign of fall. There was so much excitement, so much passion from the fans, more so than even professional football fans. College football was currency. It kept the lights on. It provided entire communities with jobs and, more importantly, identities. It’s big and bold and it is in my blood. A small piece of me lives and dies every Saturday with the Ohio State Buckeyes, even now.
But it is also everything I said above about the NFL, yet worse. The likelihood of deplorable behavior coming to light in the NFL is much higher than in college football. Collegiate athletes have a fortress around them. They are given passing grades. They are given nice things. They are protected by the law no matter how awful the crime.
College football perpetuates a system that is rotten to its core, a system that simply evolves at the next level, a system that his, itself, an evolution of the system before it (high school).
This is all without even touching upon the race dynamics in football which are completely unhinged.
Football is awful and it should be treated as such. It’s is the perfect encapsulation of much of what is wrong with this country.
And the fact that I still feel those pangs of nostalgic joy each fall are the epitome of the hold it has on America.