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Football has been my favorite sport for many years. Some of my fondest memories are of going with my Dad as an 8 year old to high school football games he officiated on weekends; and for close to a 20 year stretch I hardly missed a home game at the Stadium to see the Jets. I played a little in high school and caught two touchdown passes on the day my JV high school team won its first game in three years for our small Catholic school - it was a thrill I still think about over 30 years later. There are few things to me that are as graceful as an airborne receiver making a diving catch with his body extended in a way the defies reality, or the fluidity of a running back running making tiger-like moves with agility, sheer power and stamina. I will even stop on the side of a road to watch a high school or amateur game.

However, I find the game as it is presented today by the NFL holds less and less favor to me. Not so much because of the game itself, though my enjoyment has been greatly impacted by the revelations of the Frontilne report “League of Denial,” but because it has been overshadowed by its caretakers’ decisions to militarize and corporatize almost every aspect of its presentation. The corporatization of football as a commodity to sell advertising is at the heart of the NFL today, it’s the engine room of a capitalistic society that demands profit over people every time. All manner of commercial ads, from beer to cars to fast food to banks, bombard the viewer throughout.I have come to loath consumerism, and it is impossible to separate it from the game.

Far more dangerous than the corporatization is the collusion with the military to neatly weave this creepy fascistic tapestry of nationalism, the military and football. If it makes you shudder to see old newsreels of stadiums full of Germans in the 1930’s pledging their fealty to the Homeland, it’s not very far off when multiple times during the Super Bowl one watches and listens to the many choreographed moments of militaristic and nationalistic imagery and theater resulting in orgiastic, ritualistic and ecstatic fervor. At the core of both events are notions of national superiority, false pride, violence and fear. George Carlin's classic piece "Baseball vs Football" cleverly describes the infatuation with military language, culture and names. "The quarterback aka field general,” has to be "on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense, hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy, in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use the shotgun,” “with short bullet passes and long bombs he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing his assault with a sustained ground attack."

The most obvious change has been in the Super Bowl Growing up I can’t recall holiday-like gatherings with feasts bigger than Thanksgiving and major, big-scale Hollywood production sets, not until the 80’s (yeah, that decade which was the worst  culturally, politically and musically). Now every Monday Night game is a spectacle, as are each playoff game. And to think, the NFL made $10 billion this year. How are they considered a non-proft business? It is the same kind of mockery of Exxon/Mobil paying no taxes, or subsidizing farms not to harvest crops, or not taxing all financial transactions. When will the jig be up? We’ve been screwed, by a system run of, by and for the plutocrats.

Even the stadiums themselves have become high altars to consumerism. They feel like malls first, playing fields second. Shea Stadium, or whichever bank or corporations bought the rights for its name which I refuse to use, has become a vile and ugly faux heritage-style stadium. Being there twice when there wasn’t a game is when you see it in its nakedness. They’re now McStadiums, a place whose only purpose seems to be that from which to hang as many corporate banners as can be affixed. The last 20 years have seen many new stadiums, and for the most part they’ve conformed to this crass setup, with few exceptions. A seamless flow from shopping mall, to franchise food to sports stadium. Shop and eat, repeat. Shop and eat, repeat. A full stomach and an empty head, ready to be filled with advertisements.

Which makes sense. You’re no longer there to just watch a ballgame. You’re also there to shop, which in contemporary America means your ultimate civic duty. That’s as much as the last President said,, in response to 9/11. He went even further, offering specificity in a refrain familiar to any who watched football in the 80’s. That era could have been the beginning of the end, when we had to endure the banality of a player - engaged in the biggest battle of his career, being watched by hundreds of millions around, look into the camera and say “I’m going to Disneyland.” It’s surprising the team uniforms don’t yet have corporate logos on them like they do in Europe. Perhaps we shall hear I the not-too-distant future Al Michaels say, “This fourth down is being brought to you by All-State.”

So it’s no surprise that NFL franchises operate the way Corporate America does: if you don’t give us tax-free investment we’re gonna take our ball somewhere else. Corporations in all fields of business use this canard(see Boeing in Seattle now – which surely will get no mention on Sunday - and dozens and dozens of other companies). Threaten to move the operation to where there’s an offer of tax breaks and cheap labor. The American way is to depress worker wages and be rewarded with a windfall of money from a desperate small cities willing to fork over local tax money. It’s another form of outsourcing,; the only thing different is that the greedy monomaniacal businessmen owners can’t take the Patriots or the Redskins to Bangalore or Ho Chi Minh City. The one bright spot is the Green Bay Packers, who are owned by the people of the small city in Wisconsin, and not by some vainglorious .01%er looking to dabble in football for a little fun.

 This Sunday I will at some point be thinking of how green with envy Leni Reifenstahl and Joseph Goebbles would be over the spell the NFL has cast over the American people. The mass indoctrination of American nationalism ranks for me as one of the most dangerous developments of the NFL. With this help from the NFL, non-stop warfare around the globe, corporate fealty and a lemming-like culture of consumerism is made easier.

The NFL, the tv networks and corporate America cultivate this fascistic union by weaving together American nationalism, consumerism and an obsession with the military all throughout the game. Every few minutes the announcers are telling you what the tv program is for the rest of the week (“Don’t miss tonight on Fox ----“), the ads come pouring in after every kickoff, change of possession, scoring play, carefully crafted to make you think of something you had no interest in or to gently nudge you to a favorable feeling for a product brand (allegedly the banks have been the biggest spenders this year… cue sympathetic music, video clips of diverse, multi-cultural people cooperating, gleaming shots of progress, etc – all from Goldman Sachs, who led the way in the financial meltdown). There will be a great attempt by the banks to makeover their image and the NFL is all too happy to oblige.

The screen will be filled with glittering images of giant American flags, fireworks, military flyovers and of course, multiple shots of military personnel.  David Zirin of the Nation watches the Super Bowl every year with guys from the Iraq Veterans Against the War. “As the troops said over and over again, ‘this is about exploiting the soldiers for the purpose of selling the war.’” He also notes that the commercials “depend very heavily on selling women’s bodies.” The problem, he says, is that “you can’t separate the camera lingering on Kim Kardashian’s body to sell some product or another, and then the shots of the troops. It’s all sort of woven together in one large tapestry that says ‘Join the Army, sex, Rock n Roll, the Super Bowl, flyovers.  It’s the same way you can’t separate Top Gun from Tom Cruise getting to sleep with Kelly McGillis. It’s all the same package. “ Even though I reflexively mute every commercial, including the in-between commercials from announcers which are cleverly thread throughout the broadcast, it is still pretty overwhelming.

The story of Pat Tillman should be remembered here too, because his tragic death was a result of that nefarious alliance . He met his demise literally in the crosshairs between football and the Army. Here was a dynamic, intelligent, well-liked standout defensive back for the Arizona Cardinals., who was killed by “fratricide” in Afghanistan. But that’s not what the Army wanted reported. They concocted a more “heroic” story, because they wanted to use him as the patriotic poster boy for the war. His family wouldn’t accept the company line and despite being stonewalled by every rank in the government concluded finally that he was killed by his own men. Tillman had also been reading Noam Chomsky. The ardor with which he left professional football to defend his country after 9/11 was waning as the reality of the war shone clearer to him on the ground. He had arranged to meet with Chomsky upon his return.

Another level-headed guy who also read Chomsky and willingly gave up his chance to be in NYC right now, reveling in the anticipation of playing in the Super Bowl on Sunday, is John Moffitt . He was playing for the 8-1 Denver Broncos when he quit in the second week of November, having had his fill of football and blocking for Peyton Manning who was on an unbelievable streak. He’s also a Buddhist. "I just really thought about it and decided I’m not happy,” Moffit said. “I’m not happy, and I think it’s really madness to risk your body, risk your well-being and risk your happiness, for money… How much do you really need? What do you want in life? And I decided that I don’t really need to be a millionaire.” Similarly, Dave Meggyesy, a linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers in the late 60’s, decided he’d had enough too. Surprise, he was also a highly literate guy who concluded in his prime that football was “institutional violence,” comparing the game to the military, with its obedience to authority, the players plagued by fear and subservience to titillation.

Football, like the Army, depends on malleable, loyal pawns who for the most part don’t really take to literature, philosophy or politics. They’ll take guys like Dexter Manley, the All-Pro defensive end for the Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins who actually never learned to read until he was almost 30 years old. Just pushed through the system for his athletic ability, herded like cattle. In the minds of its superiors the Army and NFL functions more smoothly when the employees are incurious about the world at large. Maybe then they could use a guy like Mitch Daniels to run things. Remember that RW ideologue clown/former Governor of Indiana, who went on to become President of Perdue University? As Governor he attempted to ban Howard Zinn books statewide from all public colleges. Banner of books becomes university president!

I’ve noticed I don’t quite watch football the same way anymore. Especially after the Frontline investiagtions revealed the NFL’s denial and coverup of the epidemic of consussions. Every time a player goes down I used to just get up to grab something to eat or go to the bathroom. Now I imagine a guy closer to agonizing dark depression, memory loss and debilitated physicality in the years to come, the pain his family goes through.

These days it’s hard to see a professional football game as more than it being a vessel upon which Corporatism, Militarism and Sexism can attach their brands to, and not much more.

Originally posted to thirty three and a third on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 10:38 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (179+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Byrnt, Matt Z, Youffraita, vadasz, caul, LinSea, BenderRodriguez, DuzT, agnostic, dlemex, a2nite, k9disc, Roadbed Guy, stlsophos, HeartlandLiberal, TayTay, copymark, rat racer, GDbot, The grouch, old mark, farmerhunt, The Lone Apple, soarbird, penguins4peace, teabaggerssuckbalz, Shelley99, RichterScale, Blue Bell Bookworm, Justus, BobBlueMass, deben, onionjim, tobendaro, undercovercalico, Geenius at Wrok, Hillbilly Dem, MKSinSA, JVolvo, arizonablue, Hirodog, Chi, WakeUpNeo, Vienna Blue, OLinda, Jollie Ollie Orange, wintergreen8694, dsb, misshelly, Ray Pensador, cama2008, PurpleMyst, salmo, Brooke In Seattle, Hammerhand, Naniboujou, Glen The Plumber, TracieLynn, joegoldstein, One Pissed Off Liberal, kerflooey, pat bunny, historys mysteries, Leftcandid, MrBigDaddy, Joealan, Cronesense, JDWolverton, HedwigKos, mama jo, genethefiend, Wee Mama, DeminNewJ, Yellow Canary, Shotput8, gnothis, FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph, buckstop, lineatus, Onomastic, rovertheoctopus, unfangus, Heavy Mettle, RudiB, Shockwave, slampros, mslat27, citizen dan, citisven, jasan, lapin, LibChicAZ, paradox, pontechango, anodnhajo, Assaf, tofumagoo, eyo, Dartagnan, zerelda, ColoTim, USHomeopath, leonard145b, hulagirl, The Hindsight Times, FrY10cK, sawgrass727, rapala, mwk, LynChi, CA Nana, Emmet, slowbutsure, chrississippi, ericy, MarkInSanFran, Rhysling, implicate order, plok, bsmechanic, owlbear1, moviemeister76, tegrat, snoopydawg, PrometheusUnbound, alasmoses, Damnit Janet, Gowrie Gal, itsjim, jts327, Dianna, sfcouple, thomask, denig, Liberal Protestant, Lily O Lady, NoMoreLies, River Rover, Free Jazz at High Noon, cpresley, BigAlinWashSt, Nisi Prius, mrsgoo, techno, Catte Nappe, Wife of Bath, flitedocnm, Prospect Park, rasbobbo, DoctorWho, joynow, Linda1961, Egg, pimutant, resa, ctsteve, merrylib, nancat357, cville townie, rustypatina, dagnome, Joe Bob, rosette, wasatch, mookins, Vetwife, MrsTarquinBiscuitbarrel, LihTox, BusyinCA, Buckeye54, worldlotus, wader, naka, thanatokephaloides, Kristina40, one of 8, Upie, Subterranean, MJ via Chicago

    "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts." Mark Twain

    by thirty three and a third on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 10:38:15 PM PST

  •  but football (15+ / 0-)

    was never more than a "gentleman's" replacement for war.  

    Ted Kennedy: “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die…”

    by jlms qkw on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 10:48:55 PM PST

    •  Perhaps not war. Football, like all team sports, (9+ / 0-)

      is a substitute for tribal cooperation, which is an aspect of human social development that has enabled us to make the world safer (for the family, then the tribe, then the nation and perhaps some day for the entire world). Although our cousins, the chimpanzees, cooperate, they don't do anything as sophisticated as playing football. Hurray for us! Our (Homo sapiens) ability to cooperate has allowed us to dominate the world. And yeah, I agree that we've screwed it up in a lot of ways and it could break bad, but on balance, cooperation -- even at a tribal level, or the NFL 12th Man thing -- reflects something positive about us as much as something negative about us.

      Did you ver notice how har it is totype accurately on an iPad?

      by RudiB on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 08:15:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Veblen covered football with two observations (4+ / 0-)

        1) Team sports exist in sharpen the warlike animus.  It is the primary method the leisure classes employ to teach the arts of force and fraud to their offspring.

        2) "Football is to physical culture what bullfighting is to agriculture."

        Big Veblen fan but also still a football fan.  The magic of 11 guys executing highly complex feats of athleticism while large violent men attempt to maim or kill them is fascinating beyond magic.

        •  Chess too? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Although chess is about time, force, mobility, and pawn structure (geography), I've always though about this pastime as being not-warlike, because pieces are only "captured" and not "killed". It's so antiseptic. However, in an age of drone warfare where (some)combatants work in ergonomic and air-conditioned comfort, I'm having to rethink it.

          Did you ver notice how har it is totype accurately on an iPad?

          by RudiB on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 04:48:46 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  My tech skills don't allow it, however (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          one can find highly ironic images of Veblen football jerseys on the inter-tubes.

          Did you ver notice how har it is totype accurately on an iPad?

          by RudiB on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 04:53:21 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I have to disagree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Offense is an intellectual plan.

      Having said that, I think defenders should be able to block passes without having to look back for the ball, and I think receivers should be able to have full control of the ball after the catch before being allowed to be touched by the defender. This whole idea of defenders laying these massive hits takes away from the elegance of offense schemes.

      Knock twice, rap with your cane

      by plok on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 09:58:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  about that (0+ / 0-)

        defenders are allowed to block a pass without having to look for the ball, as long as they don't contact the receiver.  The rule against that was phased out a couple years ago.

        As for giving receivers a grace period before they're allowed to be touched, I don't see why that should be.  There's already a "defenseless receiver" rule against certain kinds of hits in such a situation.  But not contact whatsoever?  I wouldn't agree.

        •  That's a catch-22 aint it? (0+ / 0-)

          because if the defender touches the receiver passed 5 yards it's interference, right? More than a few times this season I've seen games where a defender was penalized for not "playing the ball".

          This whole touching each other like in basketball. I can't stand it. They both would be better games if they did away with incidental contact at it's current degree.

          Knock twice, rap with your cane

          by plok on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 12:05:21 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Got GamePass (38+ / 0-)

    here in Europe to watch the Packers this season in Germany. I tell you, I was so worn and out fatigued after each game and all the commercials that I was nearly ready to buy a truck I will never, ever need in a city that boasts some of the best public transportation in the world.

    I would literally be in a daze for hours after watching a game wondering what it must be like to live in America now.  I really felt assaulted by all the advertising.

    Football has throughout history been linked to the military:

    According to FIFA the competitive game cuju is the earliest form of football for which there is scientific evidence.[19] It occurs namely as an exercise in a military manual from the third and second centuries BC.[19] Documented evidence of an activity resembling football can be found in the Chinese military manual Zhan Guo Ce compiled between the 3rd century and 1st century BC.[20] It describes a practice known as cuju (蹴鞠, literally "kick ball"), which originally involved kicking a leather ball through a small hole in a piece of silk cloth which was fixed on bamboo canes and hung about 9 m above ground. During the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD), cuju games were standardized and rules were established.[citation needed] Variations of this game later spread to Japan and Korea, known as kemari and chuk-guk respectively. Later, another type of goal posts emerged, consisting of just one goal post in the middle of the field.

    If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. -George Washington

    by Tank Mountaine on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 01:05:36 AM PST

  •  Well done (44+ / 0-)

    Very  in depth look at the corporate, military look of the NFL.  I wrote a much shorter version in my diary, "Are you ready for some corporate celebration, er some football?"  I said the Super Bowl has become unwatchable . It is a celebration of corporate consumerism . The horrible half-time shows and the obligatory military flyovers. It's funny, every year i write the same diary about the military corporate super bowl but it rarely gets much comment or recs ( this year i  got the most with 9 recs). Hopefully your well written diary will turn that around. I will contribute my rec

    " We're all here for a spell, get all the good laughs you can."................Will Rogers

    by tvdude on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 01:48:45 AM PST

  •  Reason #1 not to watch the (usually not very) (50+ / 0-)

    Super Bowl.

    I used to root for Peyton Manning (hey I'm stuck here in Indianapolis -- it's the law!), but once he started palling around with that health-care hater and all-around rich asshole that is the owner of Papa John's Pizza (sucks!) I gave up on him.

    Was also thrilled when the Colts brought home the Super Bowl trophy.  But that was all wasted when Tony Dungy (the then coach) appeared at a fundraiser for an anti-gay Family Reasearch Council type group.  Fuck him, and fuck his hall of fame chances too.

    Anyway, tipped, rec'd, and sent to the hot list, should anyone ever ask me why football sucks.

    When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered -- MLK, Jr.

    by caul on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 03:04:16 AM PST

  •  So...Broncos or Seahawks? (25+ / 0-)


    I don't agree with you 100%, but you make many valid points.

    Like you, I'm a lifelong football fan, but knowing what we know now, it's hard not to wince every time there's helmet-to-helmet contact on a play, which, of course, occurs on nearly every play.

    In short, football is sport porn: It's great to look at, but it's largely indefensible.

    I can't help but think, though, that Roger Goodell knows he's sitting atop a dying empire. Parents are beginning to think twice about letting their kids play football, and if the talent pipeline dries out, what will the NFL do?

    Thanks for a well-written, thought-provoking diary.

    How about I believe in the unlucky ones?

    by BenderRodriguez on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 03:08:38 AM PST

  •  Consider that 25 yrs ago, you saw (18+ / 0-)

    17 actual minutes of action. It is down to 10.5 today,  even though the number of replays doubled.

    In soccer, you have closer to 75 minutes, and there, things necessary game fill the rest of the time. B-ball? Constant action.

    But in terms of ads? Football beats all.

    What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

    by agnostic on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 03:30:53 AM PST

    •  Not sure if you know this or not, but football (4+ / 0-)

      games are and have been for many, many years structured around the ad time.  The reason why major broadcasters never liked airing soccer games was because there were no stoppages to allow for ad time.  That's the simple reason why it has been so hard to bring the other "Football" to the US.

      I am not particularly sympathetic with the diarist's position only because the commercialization of football has always been a huge aspect of the sport as the NFL manages their monopoly.  The game is constructed entirely around advertisements and that's just "thing number 1".

      •  mind-boggling at my first live pro game. (6+ / 0-)

        you don't see it from home, but when you're at the stadium, the subservience of the game to the commercial schedule of the TV carrier is central.
        I watched offensive drives deprived of their momentum when a flag being thrown or an injury meant going to five minutes of commercials. The players were standing around on the field until  a specific referee (who is there just to coordinate the game for the tv) let them know when the TV had come back to them, so they could resume play. Meanwhile, the defense got an undeserved rest, the defensive coaches had time to review film and make adjustments.
        It was hard to believe these interruptions did not affect the outcome of the game. To most people, that would be considered game fixing. It is much worse during playoff games, where a skewed outcome should be even less tolerated.

        Last full month in which the average daily temperature did not exceed twentieth-century norms: 2/1985 - Harper's Index, 2/2013

        by kamarvt on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 08:59:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  75 minutes of "action" in soccer? (6+ / 0-)

      If you call that action. A more honest description would be

      Roughly 3 minutes and 30 seconds of interesting attempts to score sandwiched into 86 minutes and 30 seconds (plus injury time) of bogus injuries badly faked by crappy actors and interminable maneuvering slightly less interesting than watching paint dry.
      IIRC during one of the London NFL games a Brit fan of US-style football was interviewed & asked what he found attractive about the sport. His (paraphrased) reply:
      It's like watching a chess game between two grandmasters where the board is reset every 45 seconds.
      IMHO this is a fairly good summation of why football fascinates many of us who aren't fans of concussions & other injuries.

      The greatest trick the GOP ever played was convincing the devil they had a soul to sell.

      by Uncle Cosmo on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 07:54:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Soccer (0+ / 0-)

        Ug I can't watch for more than 10 minutes.

      •  For people who understand the game, (3+ / 0-)

        the "interminable maneuvering" is endlessly fascinating. Watching a good team keep possession and search for openings is like watching an expert bullfighter. Hint: don't only watch the ball, a lot of the really good action is taking place away from it as the players off the ball try to find space or draw defenders out of position.

        The same is true of any sport. If you know what to look for, you'll find it interesting. I don't watch gridiron football, but I'm not about to say there's nothing interesting about it.

      •  Thanks for this. Soccer is the worst.... (0+ / 0-)

        My dog, while smart, has no idea how to play football or basketball.  Soccer, he picked up in a minute and is a world class defensive stopper.  We don't let doctors operate with their feet, because their ability to do precise work would diminish way past the point of danger.  

        And that's not even mentioning soccer hooligans, soccer riots, and even soccer wars.  

        And while I agree with many points in this diary, the constant Nazi references and denigration of anyone who either joins the military or signs up to play football is just dumb.  

        To avoid starting dumb wars, punish the dumb people who vote for them.

        by joesig on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 12:57:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Glad to see closemindedness is alive and well (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        even on the left.

        You should really sit down with someone who knows the game of soccer and have them explain it to you. Maybe then you wouldnt be so quick to make glib remarks on it.

        •  Glad to see snobbery is alive and well (0+ / 0-)

          among those with low UIDs.

          Soccer, like basketball, is popular worldwide because it takes nearly no gear to play, involves nearly no rules, & has the refreshingly simple goal (pun intended) of putting the ball into the net. It's certainly not popular because of the deep knowledge of the vast majority of its fans.

          Just as >90% of the people who know how to play chess have practically no idea of what it means to play it well, I submit that >90% of those who call themselves soccer fans are just as blissfully ignorant of its finer points...whatever they might be.

          The greatest trick the GOP ever played was convincing the devil they had a soul to sell.

          by Uncle Cosmo on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 10:10:36 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not true. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            The proof of that is when you hear the crowd roar its approval as a player beats an offside trap, even when he's more than 40 yards from goal and the ball is still in the air on the way to him. I've heard it many times. At that moment, most of the fans watching are fully aware of just how precisely the run has to be timed to avoid getting caught offside. When goals are hard to come by, fans learn to anticipate scoring chances as far as 20-30 seconds in advance, and the crowd noise reflects that.

  •  I quit watching pro sports about 8 years ago (14+ / 0-)

    or so when a Blue Angel flyby went down over a well crafted tight shot of an asian soldier (forget the branch), framed in American flags, crying.

    The jets were in the background and tearing the air behind her and the asian female warrior was crying in front of the flags.

    I just totally lost it. Since then it's been a terrifying slide into corporate military advertainment that I am continually freaked out by as it screams down that slippery slope.

    I so feel you 331/3, great piece. I might have to stroll over to Tony's Pizza (100 yards away) and grab a beer and catch some of the game to see what I've been missing.


    Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

    by k9disc on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 04:14:21 AM PST

  •  only about 2.5% of the NFL earnings (5+ / 0-)

    tax exempt (specifically, the dues given to the league office), the rest are taxable:

    And to think, the NFL made $10 billion this year. How are they considered a non-proft business?
    And if you ask how they are considered a "non-profit business"  - well, simple accounting reveals that to be true in the most literal sense:
    The NFL's 990 federal tax form, filed to the IRS in 2012 and available for view at the nonprofit watchdog site GuideStar, shows that during the previous year the league office received $255.3 million in revenue (almost all of it via annual dues paid by the teams) while it spent a total of $332.9 million,
  •  Same Happening to College Div I (24+ / 0-)

    Budgets of Athletics departments now run between 28 and 35 percent of total funding from broadcast interests and corporations. All the major leagues have or are developing their own broadcast networks, in league with existing corporations. E.g. The Big Ten Network is 51% owned by Fox Entertainment.

    The corporations' power is so great, they even set the schedules and game times now. For potential high profile games, this is why you either see two possible times published, or no time at all. Game time will be set 10 days out, as determination is made based on marketability of the game at that point in the season.

    I worked the last 15 years of my career in a major Div I university athletics program.

    As the revolution happened, I had to fight tooth and nail with the university administration to even get permission to implement the first web site for our athletics program. I was treated like a leper or a radical revolutionary for suggesting that the university associate a program with a domain name. And the very idea that I wanted to use the opportunity to introduce some advertising on the pages? Oh, dear $DEITY, the vapors suffered by multiple VPs was unbelievable.

    Now, of course, ten years later, I go to a basketball or football game, and commercials blare from the scoreboard, promotions are run during half time with stupid people doing stupid tricks to win tires, pizzas, or whatever.

    The commercial takeover of the "industry" of college football and basketball is pretty much complete.

    "You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going, because you might not get there." “When you come to the fork in the road, take it.” --Yogi Berra

    by HeartlandLiberal on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 04:40:47 AM PST

  •  Two things (9+ / 0-)

    Dave Meggysey played for the St. Louis Cardinals, not the 49ers.

    And militarization of football goes way back. Stephen Crane, author of The Red Badge of Courage says he got his ideas about combat on the football field.

    The link between Meggysey and Crane? They both played for Syracuse University. Meggysey in the 1960s and Crane in the 1890s.

    In the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry, and is generally considered to have been a bad move. -- Douglas Adams, The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy

    by boriscleto on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 05:18:42 AM PST

    •  Football is THE industrial sport (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mconvente, TiaRachel, cville townie

      It is the epitome of industrialization.  It is a factory sport.  

      Each player frequently has one duty to perform on each play.  

      It could also be possible that the military, and football reflect the industrialized mindset.  They may both simply be a reflection of industrialization.  


      by otto on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 07:16:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  huh? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cardinal, cville townie

        1. The military predates industrialization by...a lot, and a knowledge of military history shows that soldiers were a lot more likely to have one duty to perform back before industrialization, then now when they usually have more than one duty to perform, are smarter, question a heck of a lot more, and are expected to lead at the lowest levels.

        2. Football also is not a sport where players frequently have one duty only to perform anymore than say baseball.  Audibles, what you do when a play breaks down, etc are all things that show that players have multiple roles even from play to play.

        The point is this is a pretty tortured fit/analogy you are trying to make here.

        •  Sure they do (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gffish, cville townie

          I know that the military predates industrialization. That doesn't mean that the military and football aren't both currently informed by a history of industrialization.  

          A football team is a lot like Vonnegut's factories.  There are base level workers, and a few dozen middle managers with one guy running the show.  


          by otto on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 08:01:35 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  except they aren't (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            not remotely.

            All of society and all team sports have stars, role players, managers, and a head coach....there is nothing special about football nor is it based on industrialization.

            It's pretty hard to imagine another way of setting up a TEAM sport than to have a head coach, assistant coaches, nor is it hard to imagine that there might not be some positions or players better or more important than others.

            Pitchers? Goalies? Centers? Point Guards? Quarterbacks? Pick a sport including soccer or cricket or what have you, and the same dynamic holds and it has nothing to do with factories, Vonnegut or otherwise.

            The military is nothing like a factory.  There's constant upward mobility for one, in fact, it's expected and required that you move up or you could be fired.  That's nothing like a factory.  Folks don't stay a private for 20 years.

      •  Let me guess....never played football, never... (0+ / 0-)

        served in the military.    But yet, such learned analysis, such steely condescension.  Genius.  

        To avoid starting dumb wars, punish the dumb people who vote for them.

        by joesig on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 01:05:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for the correction on Meggysey (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      (what a cool name too - I wonder where it's native of?)

      Was probably equating him with the 49ers because Hunter Thompson was a big 49ers/avid football fan and was friends with Dave.

      in 1973 HST threw down on the subject also, with another classic piece, "Fear and Loathing at the Super Bowl." Here's an excerpt of his observations of Al Davis and the infamous Oakland Raiders,  and another.

      "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts." Mark Twain

      by thirty three and a third on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 08:19:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I like football, but have not watched a (6+ / 0-)

    superbowl for many years, and have plans to take my dogs for a ride instead.

    Hate the hype, tuxedos, commercials, halftime bullshit, corporate participation...I'm already waiting for the August pre-season Eagles games, usually my best birthday present.

    Super Bowl, go shit in your hat.

    Bring me the head of Geraldo Rivera.

    by old mark on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 05:23:18 AM PST

  •  I'd rather have a corporatized game... (6+ / 0-) which the players are paid well and have some rudimentary protections against getting killed or disabled, than the previous version, which wasn't exactly an anarcho-syndicalist fantasy by the way.  Anyway, in my old age I am finding baseball a lot more interesting, which depresses me no end.

    It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

    by Rich in PA on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 05:28:01 AM PST

  •  SMH... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shifty18, JVolvo, otto, mconvente, pdkesq

    This shit about the NFL being exempt from taxes is ridiculous. The NFL is the league office. It is NOT the teams, which are independently owned businesses. The league office has no revenue stream of it's own. It is funded by the teams. The NFL runs the college draft, writes the rules, hires officials, negotiates the TV deal, and does a bunch of other boring things that are necessary for the day to day operation of the league. The teams are taxed on their profits, a collective $10 B, as you note in the diary.

    "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

    by happy camper on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 05:32:18 AM PST

  •  I quit going to live games long ago. The games (11+ / 0-)

    went from being semi-casual, affordable affairs and have become expensive outings for the affluent, and which involve extensive pre-planning and navigating the type of security you'd expect at a nuclear missile base.
      The last baseball game I attended was ruined by the incessant blaring of commercials over the loudspeakers while the game was in progress.
      I stopped following the NFL when the Eagles gave animal torturer Michael Vick the "courage" award.
      In reality, who cares which tax dodging corporation's team wins the staged spectacle?
      Participating in sports is a good and healthy thing to do. Chowing down on salt and grease intensive foods while watching corporate sports is a waste of time.

  •  Fantastic diary! (17+ / 0-)

    An in depth look at just another way our minds and even our hearts are being controlled in ways we barely notice.

    I stopped watching a long time ago, and it's gotten so much worse since then.

    I think it's really hard for people to give up those moments that give them the possibility to feel like a winner for even a few seconds when there's so much losing in our culture now.  

  •  Rugby rules!! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tobendaro, onionjim, twcollier

    At least it did when I played in England in the 70's. Rugby Union was all strictly amateur with no commercial sponsors. Now when I occasionally watch you tubes etc  see they have sponsors on the shirts.

    Go Wales!! Gareth Edwards was my hero!!

    "Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here." Marianne Williamson

    by Canadian Green Card Alien on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 06:07:30 AM PST

  •  Nitpick ALERT! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chi, Naniboujou, Lily O Lady, worldlotus

    "Purdue" not "Perdue".

  •  Todd Snider Gets It Right (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Damnit Janet, Timmethy

    You rarely find a story that says two stoners beat each other up outside of a bar.

    by jparnell on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 06:35:49 AM PST

  •  It's the real life Hunger Games (18+ / 0-)

    The great majority of pro players are drawn from the poorest segments of society, where kids grow up with their only options to make money are pro sports, music, or crime.

    The fans who pay a weeks wages to attend a game, park, buy some food and drinks, and maybe a souvenir jersey while sitting on hard seats in the weather for 4 hours, jammed in together with their fellows are like the Roman proletariats - being fed their bread and circuses to keep them entertained and hypnotized in the hope they don't rise up and kill the Emperor and ruling class.

    The owners, as you say, are no longer the simple businessmen or even low-end millionaires that created and ran the league for decades, but are all super-rich billionaires who bought the teams to have fun and show off to their billionaire friends, sitting in luxury boxes high out of reach, enjoying the spectacle of the gladiators tear each other apart for the amusement of the idiot proles, while these same billionaires continually threaten and hold team cities hostage for bigger tax breaks, city money to pay for new stadiums (God forbid the billionaire spend a dime of his own money), huge concession and parking fees, and whatever else they can squeeze or - or hey, they'll just move the team!

    And of course there's the nonstop 'honoring' of the military - but lets not forget these billionaire owners are all Republican billionaires who use their immense wealth to direct the R agenda, which is all about not only sending those troops to fight unending wars to protect the billionaires property, wealth and interests (or to gain them even more), but also CUTTING military pay, medical care, and pensions right to the frigging bone.

    These billionaires don't care about the game, the players, the fans, or the military. They're all disposable props to use to make more money and throw away when their purpose is done. It's the Republican agenda in microcosm, and right out there in public view.

    "THRUSH (a 60s term for the Republican Party) believes in the two-party system—the masters and the slaves" - Napolean Solo, Man From U.N.C.L.E.

    by Fordmandalay on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 06:41:55 AM PST

  •  the owners are very RW for the most part (4+ / 0-)

    An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

    by mightymouse on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 06:54:27 AM PST

  •  Can you just stop with the hating? (4+ / 0-)
    yeah, that decade which was the worst  culturally, politically and musically
    What on earth point is it to bash the music of the 1980s in a diary that compares football to the military and the Nazis?


  •  For me, it's the head injuries (10+ / 0-)

    I never gave it a thought until I started having symptoms of brain injury.  I'm clumsy, I fall, probably because of a concussion when I was a baby.  Over the last few years I've had some quite bad ones.  Now I walk with a cane, my eyesight and hearing are affected, my cognition...well.  

    I watch football and hockey players, and I know that a helmet does very little good in the long run, and a waiver is a cowardly owner's way out.  I don't want anyone else to be like me.  It breaks my heart, but I can't watch these games any more.

    "Republicans are poor losers and worse winners." - My grandmother, sometime in the early 1960s

    by escapee on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 07:02:31 AM PST

  •  Ironically (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lily O Lady

    The drive to protect the players has probably led to an increase in concussion.

    This is just a guess.  Similar to the way that boxing invites a continued pounding to the skull with less surface damage than a fist would do, a football helmet allows for an increase in the number of head first collisions, because it stops your head from feeling the pain on the surface.  

    We try to make helmets better, but that only causes people to feel more secure in smashing their head against something.


    by otto on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 07:10:26 AM PST

    •  Ban all pads and helmets (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Is rugby more dangerous than American gridiron?

      Americans can make our country better.

      by freelunch on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 07:50:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  just like autism awareness led to more autism (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gffish, worldlotus

      Every time you heard an announcer say "that player had his bell wrung" in the 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s what he was really saying was "that player just suffered undiagnosed brain trauma".

      6 decades of allowing players play through concussions and now that the NFL has finally stopped doing that you're going to scapegoat helmets?

      You take the helmets away and all your going to get is lots and lots of blood.

      •  Maybe this is too complex (0+ / 0-)

        Think about boxing.  If you put padding on the gloves. the fighters are not stopped by the surface damage of the bare fists.  

        If you put gloves on, the surface damage is reduced, and you are able to absorb more blows that are more forceful.  

        The padding might stop something, but you're really just increasing the number of blows to the skull.  

        I am not saying to take them away.  In fact, we should improve them.  

        The point isn't that concussion awareness led to more concussions, it's that by increasing the amount of padding in the helmet, we have made it so that through all those years, players were able to direct more forceful blows to the head.  The kind of blows that shake the brain.  

        You are able to absorb the surface impact of harder and harder blows.  So you have one person going one direction, and another going the other.  The faster they are going, the more violent the collision, and the motion comes to a quicker stop.  That leads to concussions.


        by otto on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 09:43:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  "Just pushed through the system for his athletic (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mconvente, gffish

    ability". Maybe so....but I'll bet he and others like him enjoyed every minute of their free ride. I attended a Big Ten university way back when and even then, the footballers could do no wrong. Friends who lived in jock dorms had horror stories, which I found all too believable, especially with the obnoxious footballer down the hall from me.

    One day, I heard him complain, "Why's everybody botherin' me about SCHOOL?" I said to myself, "Because if you don't get your dream of football glory, you'll have to get a job like the rest of us. You won't be prepared, and it will be everyone's fault except yours." The school paper even ran an article about "student-athletes," including one guy who'd have lost a contest of brains with an ice cube. "They programmed him to fail!"


    I bow to no one in my loathing for commercialism and exploitation, but come on: most everyone is capable of choice. So if some lunkhead wants the salary and perks that the rest of us will never have, he must accept the downside before signing up. I don't want players exploited, nor do I want to see them hurt. But each guy on the field made a choice to be there.

  •  Well, I plan to watch the Puppy Bowl (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama

    so that is my reaction to the extravaganza this weekend. I even picked a fantasy team.

  •  huh (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cardinal, mconvente, BriarRose, pdkesq

    I didn't realize that by being in the military that meant I was a "malleable, loyal pawn."

    I might be more open to some of your thoughts if you didn't present them in such a sweeping, arrogant manner.

  •  and elway may be being groomed for governor (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    this will be his 'managerial' experience. winning is NOT good for denver! or us.

    it won't matter much to the right that he hit his wife...

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 07:41:49 AM PST

  •  Football is ritualized combat; that's why it's so (5+ / 0-)

    compelling, especially to us guys.  We all have the ruge to fight somewhere within us, & a relatively safe version of it is therefore meaningful on a deep level.

    That ritualized combat is also a stand-in for intertribal conflict, something we also all carry within us, men and women.  Far better for the Steelers & Browns to battle it out in stadiums than for Pittsburgh & Cleveland to perpetually skirmish & redraw the PA/OH border.  The team names are essentially tribal totems that reflect the personality of the city/state that houses them.

    So all of that is right & good.  That militarism is linked with football is no surprise and in itself no problem; I'd argue that the NFL's fascistic messaging is an inevitable result of America's post-9/11 fascistic drift--hell, make that post-Reagan, although post-9/11, every sporting event became a mandatory expression of militaristic patriotism--how many years did we have to sing God Bless America before Take Me Out To The Ball Game in our 7th inning stretches?  We were doing it 10 YEARS later!

    So I'd argue the same thing about the corporatism: as American culture goes, so will all its institutions, especially those with enhanced cultural significance, like sports.  When we succeed in reversing corporatism & making the USA more socialist & communal, we might yet see a day in which all pro sports leagues are deprivatized, owned instead by cities/states that fund the teams with public revenue, distribute team income back to communities, and provide proper care for the players.

    GO 'HAWKS!!!!

    It's time to start letting sleeping dinosaurs lie, lest we join them in extinction by our consumption of them.

    by Leftcandid on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 07:52:16 AM PST

  •  Ah crap. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bsmechanic, denig, worldlotus

    I hate that you're right because I love watching football.  Good write up.

    When we talk about war, we're really talking about peace.

    by genethefiend on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 07:52:31 AM PST

  •  Australian Rules is better!- Go Collingwood (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    No idea how to play- but it's fun to watch!

  •  Ah, football, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama

    military, and '80s music bashing. I think you were in my grad program.  :)

    You won't believe what this gay dolphin said to a homeless child. First you'll be angry, but then at the 1:34 mark your nose will bleed tears of joy.

    by cardinal on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 08:00:01 AM PST

  •  Huh? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shifty18, emelyn, TiaRachel
    Shea Stadium, or whichever bank or corporations bought the rights for its name which I refuse to use, has become a vile and ugly faux heritage-style stadium.
    Shea Stadium was the home of the New York Mets, a baseball team. (The Jets did play there in the '60s-70s, but moved to the Meadowlands 30+ years ago.)

    I wrote "was" not because it now has a different name, but because it now no longer exists. It was demolished when the Mets built a new stadium, Citi Field, which to my knowledge has never hosted a professional football game.

    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

    by JamesGG on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 08:02:00 AM PST

  •  agree with (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Heavy Mettle, gffish, Joe Bob, RockyMtnLib

    the diarist except for two items.
    1.  Corporate logos are already on the uniforms... its called Nike with their sweatshop labor paid for checkmark.  The NFL is too cheap an organization to bother paying for their own uniforms.

    2.  The music in the eighties overall was much better than what passes for music today.  I am constantly amazed at how many young people listen to 80's and 70's songs and not so much what is promoted today.

    "History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance." -James Madison

    by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 08:06:10 AM PST

  •  I've never watched a football game on tv, and (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gffish, worldlotus, WakeUpNeo

    maybe ten or twelve total in person (high school and college). Maybe I should watch the Superb Owl as a cultural immersion experience.

    My own burden is passing Kinnick Stadium here in Iowa City. Every time I pass it - every single fucking time - I remember that they spent $80,000,000 to renovate - at the same time that New Orleans drowned because the $40,000,000 to fix the pumps wasn't there.

    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 08:15:09 AM PST

  •  The Nike logo is already on the uniform (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gffish, thirty three and a third
    It’s surprising the team uniforms don’t yet have corporate logos on them like they do in Europe. Perhaps we shall hear I the not-too-distant future Al Michaels say, “This fourth down is being brought to you by All-State.”
    Little wonder there was joking about Mutual of Omaha trying to cash in on Peyton's screaming Omaha Omaha before a snap

    They have definitely sucked all the life and enjoyment out of it. When you're at a real game and there's always these long breaks of nothing, and you realize it's a commercial break. I don't know how the players maintain their rhythm.

    Baddell is thinking of getting rid of the kickoff (because he always has to be doing something). Where will they put the commercials then?

    And everything is drawn out for maximyum TV coverage. LIke the pro bowl, which nobody cares about to begin with, this year had two televised days of a 'draft'!

    The rules favoring offense today are all designed for fantasy football and maximum TV ratings, the game is being ruined

  •  One last gasp to separate you from your money (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  pro sports is entertainment (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Stagger Lee

    you might just as well write a diary about bad Hollywood movies glorifying gun violence, or bad "reality" TV, which can and do introduce and reinforce themes of violence, etc etc.

    how many times have I talked with someone who brags about never watching TV who lists only bad shows and bad ads as reasons. then you find that they rent whole seasons of tv shows to watch at home!

    Pro sports really is part of the entertainment industry and should be taking as seriously (or not) as fast and furious 113 or lethal weapon eleventy million, or Duck Destroyer...etc.

    not everyone is going to like or watch every entertainment option. and military flyovers invite people to tune out if they object, while those who stay watching are prob. not tuning in for the military rah rah, so it's superfluous marketing and a waste of effort. people join the military for economic reasons mostly, i suppose, or because they always wanted to. not because of the football game preshow.

    and of course, the sainted Soccer/football seems to have flare ups of pitched battles between fans and hooliganism, without the aid of flyovers or soldiers or any corporate input at all. what to make of that?

    maybe we should ban all sports that have objectionable baggage? or maybe people should let each of us decide what entertainment to follow.

    I'm in touch enough with my ancestry(Irish) to sometimes find PBS' pipeline of English TV like one long projection of the "England=culture" meme. one could argue that is a vestige of the Empire period in English history. English culture during the Empire involved destroying other cultures. But, i'm not sure I'd wait to until the finale of the Season of Downton Abbey to post a diary calling it out, as that is mean spirited and just a little bit rude to guilt trip other peoples enjoyments.

  •  you kids get off my lawn (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The NFL has always been militaristic
    The NFL has always been commercial

    I think you're just more cynical than you used to be.

  •  Absurd! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shifty18, emelyn, Timmethy, mobjack

    If anyone really thought no one got hurt then they never played a sport.

    I watch pro football and have never bought a truck and don't even like beer.  I simply love the game.  

    The drama and outrage is laughable.  Really folks there is life outside of politics.

    I can deal with the commercial aspect much better than I can deal with the wretched nationalism of the Olympics, armature or pro.  Besides all we ever get to see here in the US is figure skating and little girls gymnastics, both a crashing  bore.  Add in all the sob stories and it is downright hurl causing.

  •  Football was always about war (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It was militaristic from the start.

    I remember decades ago people talking about it being similar to war. That's nothing new.

    Women create the entire labor force.
    Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

    by splashy on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 08:43:13 AM PST

  •  as for defenders of the NFL's nonprofit status, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FrY10cK, bsmechanic, Buckeye54

    how then does one explain the $30 million salary paid to its Commissioner? The highest paid player makes about a full third less than that. Is there any job in the world, for that matter, which can earn someone Thirty Million Dollars, when there's a migrant worker in Southern Florida right now picking oranges for a few dollars an hour? Something doesn't add up.

    According to Gregg Easterbrook, author of King of Sports: Football's Impact on America, walking into the NFL's Park Ave offices, "you think you're in the headquarters of Goldman Sachs."

    Isn't this the whole point? The exorbitant windfall keeps you in good standing with the other plutocrats; you're now in the club. Once in, you pledge fealty to the 1% franchise owners, who expect you to keep the status quo in favor of their profits, and if the player's welfare or fans' interests are at all compromised, well, that's just the good ole capitalistic template for ya. 30 mill means he can strut with the big boys, but he also has to abide their sociopathy. And denying there's a concussion epidemic is doing just that kind of bidding.

    "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts." Mark Twain

    by thirty three and a third on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 08:45:38 AM PST

    •  Saw Gregg Easterbrook interviewed about his book (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bsmechanic, Buckeye54

      and was very impressed. He's a guy who loves the game (I think he played college ball) but has some pretty serious critiques of what it has become.

      Reaganomics noun pl: blind faith that unregulated capitalism can provide unlimited goods for unlimited people on a planet with finite resources. Synonyms: trickle-down; voodoo economics. Antonyms: common sense. Related Words: Laffer curve.

      by FrY10cK on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 09:10:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  For me the biggest issue is player health outcomes (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Buckeye54, worldlotus

    The majority of players come from disadvantaged minorities where pro sports is considered (rightly or not) one of the few ways out of a life of poverty in crime-ridden localities.

    America has way more than enough scientific resources to study and analyze and publish - publicly - what is the public-health cost of the highschool-college-NFL pipeline in life-expectation and and quality-of-life, to the population of players.

    There's just a huge economic and cultural dis-incentive to do it by the dominant economic interests.

  •  The diary raises a lot of... (6+ / 0-)

    interesting and valid points. I offer a few of my own that you may or may not find interesting and valid.

    Football is at its zenith, it's downhill from here and the only question is how far, how fast.

    First: Hype kills the over-hyped. The reason why hype kills is implicit in why it works. It creates in the target of the hype an expectation of a thrill that nearly always fails to match the hype and a desire for new, bigger things that are different from the hyped thing that just failed to meet expectations.

    Second: football faces challenges that are largely out of its control. The fastest growing demos in this country, Latino and Asian, come from cultures that are not steeped in football tradition. How many Latino and Asian young adults have cherished memories of watching football with their grandfathers vs. multi-generation U.S. white guys like me? Make no mistake, nostalgia and tradition are a big part of institutions.

    Then there's the whole issue surrounding the health of the athlete. You could write a dozen diaries on that alone and not cover it. POTUS recently said he wouldn't let his son play pro football. It hardly created a ripple. Did I mention that this is Barack Obama who can't say "good morning" without creating a firestorm! If you're Roger Goodell, the lack of furious blow-back on this is ominous.

    Beyond the PR nightmare, while the NFL can afford to deal with this, its supply chain cannot. Liability implications are enormous. And they're talking about next-generation helmets that have the capability of measuring and reporting impacts so players can be pulled if their collision exceeds safety parameters. Can you imagine the cost of this? Are schools that can't afford a state-of-the-art science lab going to pay that so 40 or so of its students can participate in an activity that carries with it giant exposure to lawsuits?

    And, oh, what of  pee wee football? Who's going to pay for the space age helmets and insurance?

    Having said all that, there's a lot wrong with the game, but comparing it to the Third Reich's propaganda machine is a bit hyperbolic. Once you've gone Nazi on a topic, the prospects for rational debate and discussion diminish greatly.

    Thanks to everyone who got this far. Enjoy the Super Bowl.

    •  I like football and always have, but you're right (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Eyewitness Muse, Joe Bob

      about the "zenith" question, at least here in the US.

      The ugly fact is that just like every other over-sensationalized American product, football has an entire world of hungry consumers ready to suck it up--which is why you see the NFL so eager to sell itself abroad. Which, not curiously, starts by entertaining the vast Empire of Troops the US has across the globe.

      The product on the teevee here has become such a Christmas Tree of corporate lard that it's almost hard to tease out the sport in it anymore. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'd sadly stop watching if not for the mute button ...

      Right now, football looks like that truism that says "Things always tend to get biggest just before they go extinct." I think the liability for head injuries just might be the extinction event for the sport as it is. But, to be honest, there will be another version that rises from the ashes because the foundation of the game itself is more chess-like than any other sport. That's the real reason football as a game won't die---but it will die as in its contemporary version of corporatism.

    •  Best comment on this thread about concussions (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Buckeye54, worldlotus, WakeUpNeo

      This is an excellent comment about the concussion issue. The NFL proposed a $765million settlement with retired players over this and a judge rejected it because the NFL did not demonstrate it would be enough money. Meanwhile, it appears that many players will not join the settlement and seek their own legal remedies. This is going to play out for a long time and it wouldn't surprise me at all to see the legal battles happen at the college level too.

      I heard an interview on NPR yesterday with Sean Morey, former special teams player for the Steelers and Cardinals. He is only 39 years old and has post-concussion syndrome that has resulted in persistent debilitating headaches and permanent cognitive impairment. He estimates he had over two dozen concussions over the course of his career. Autopsies of deceased players have found at least 50 cases of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative neurological disorder.

      As this evidence accumulates and awareness of it grows, I don't see how, for example, high school football can continue to exist as we know it today. You are right to ask what institution, particularly a public school, is going to sponsor a activity proven to result in permanent brain damage.

      Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

      by Joe Bob on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 04:14:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There wasn't a complete lack of blowback (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Eyewitness Muse

      against Obama's comment about any son of his playing football, although it was mainly from the batshit right.

      Glenn Beck actually reacted by saying Obama should "stop being a chick".

      liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

      by RockyMtnLib on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 05:51:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Beck, sorry I meant human response. (0+ / 0-)

        But seriously, when I heard POTUS said that, even I cringed and I'm a pretty big fan of his.

        My first thought was "why?" This is going to raise a major firestorm and I'd much rather he devote the energy to minimum wage or immigration reform than whether a son he doesn't even have will be "allowed" (huh, he'd be an adult) to play pro football.

        It was a whimper compared to what I expected, especially coming so close to the Super Bowl.

  •  The NFL fosters an unbelievable arrogance (0+ / 0-)

    among its coaches and team staff. Many pretty much believe they walk on water and all should bend their knees in respect before them. Go to a hotel some time where a team is staying. You'll be shunted around, prohibited from stopping at certain floors, even requested to enter through a side door when the Team bus rolls up. It's all to protect the Princes, who are actually hered like cattle and kept on a curfew.

    This is a business from start to finish. That's all it is.

  •  I find the truck commercials amusing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The "My truck can beat up your truck" ads are so over the top it's almost like professional wrestling.

    I can't remember the last time I needed to tow a Space Shuttle but if I ever do I know which truck to buy.

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 09:01:26 AM PST

  •  Stop watching, stop buying the jerseys and hats, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thirty three and a third

    and stop patronizing the corporations that benefit.  Resistance is necessary.

    "Fragmented and confused, we have no plan to combat any of this, but are looking to be saved by the very architects of our ruination."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 09:25:02 AM PST

  •  I started falling out of love (2+ / 0-)

    with football when the pre-game shows became all glossy and Fox-looking with robot football player animations and expert panels of no less than 20 experts discussing football as intellectually as possible for hours and hours in all their seriousness. It's embarrassing.

    Terry Bradshaw? Jimmy Johnson? Shannon Sharp? Go away!!!

    And now I've noticed a funny trend where defensive backs are hurting each other in their attempts to cause turnovers and incomplete passes. Frankly I don't find these timed hits to be legal. I don't see how a corner is allowed to simulataneoulsy hit the receiver the very moment the ball touches the receiver's hands but the ball is still not in control. It's just another excuse to up the violence of the game.

    Knock twice, rap with your cane

    by plok on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 09:54:43 AM PST

  •  Thank you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'm a football fan too, but I also acknowledge that the "sport" isn't so much a sport anymore. It's an institution.

    None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

    by gjohnsit on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 10:10:09 AM PST

  •  Seinfeld on sports fans (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

    by gjohnsit on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 10:15:06 AM PST

  •  Thank you (3+ / 0-)

    I'm a hockey fan.  

    I love the sport.

    But I'm tired of  all the militarization.  Police all over the concourse, being felt up as I enter an arena.

    I'm tired of the anthem.  Rockets red glare, bombs burstin in air.  And the shrill "ho-oom of the fuhreeeee" and the hoot and hollers it receives.

    But it's the tribal bs that I can't stand.  The fact that someone can be beaten to death by another fan for wearing the wrong jersey.  

    I'm tired of the rude fans.  

    Never been into football as I always saw is too violent.  Every play, someone is being forced to stop their forward motion.  I know, hockey is considered violent, but I've never been drawn to the no flow game of football.  Or it's "rules".  

    But this diary included Zinn, Chomsky and Pat Tillman.  Thank you for that.  Tillman's story needs to be told and re-told.  A lot of our young high school kids joined up because he did.  

    "Love One Another" ~ George Harrison

    by Damnit Janet on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 10:22:09 AM PST

  •  As for the military analogy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    worldlotus, WakeUpNeo

    For me it was never more evident during the first day of Desert Storm and there was a Raiders/Patriots (how fitting) game on. During the breaks there were news updates about the invasion that seemed like they could have describing the game, and then  during the game, commentary that could have been describing "the war". It was quite surreal.

    As for the concussion issue, if this is the "new" safety conscious NFL that has people complaining about all the new rules to protect the players, then I can't help but thinking that it is impossible to play the sport without slowly killing yourself. Almost EVERY SINGLE PLAY has head on head collisions. That fact that most people seem to be OK with that and the sport remains as popular as it is, is disturbing. In league of Denial, it was said that if 1 in 10 mothers refuse to let their children play, eventually the talent pool will dry up. That can't happen soon enough for me.

  •  Very good diary. If you get the chance, watch the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bsmechanic, NoMoreLies, worldlotus

    movie Rollerball starring James Caan from 1975.

  •  It beats gladiators fighting to the death (0+ / 0-)

    in the Roman Colosseum. Although who knows what the NFL will be like in 50 years.

  •  And politics. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    No accident the game is in New Jersey. to give you-know-who a boost. Calculated.

    If you hate government, don't run for office in that government.

    by Bensdad on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 12:24:38 PM PST

  •  Not too thrilled with them (0+ / 0-)

    using their ability to focus the limelight just to benefit partisan hacks like Christie and Jan Brewer of all people. The little games they play involving politicians are a disgrace. Elected officials have no business acting as hucksters for private enterprise. The NFL wants people to think they have some relevance to the official life of the country. In reality their a step or two above NASCAR and only because of the one nice thing you can say about the league: they allow a positive portrayal of the benefits of racial diversity.

  •  Right but overstated (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Pro football was small potatoes, much less noticed by average Americans than college football, in the 1930s. The NFL used TV skillfully and continues to make pots of money. It is worse than MLB and the NBA, but only somewhat. Listen to Dallas Mavericks' owner mark Cuban

    It is not the game.

    Think back to the first professional sporting event you ever went to.  It was probably a parent taking you to the game. What do you remember ? ... I’m guessing its not the score.

    We in the sports business don’t sell the game, we sell unique, emotional experiences.We are not in the business of selling basketball. We are in the business of selling fun and unique experiences. I say it to our people ... I want a Mavs game to be more like a great wedding than anything else.

    You know the wedding I’m talking about.  The one where everyone is up dancing, smiling , cheering, laughing.  The one where Grandma Ethel has her annual vodka gimlet and is trying to do the Dougie.

    We want you always looking up. Looking at the game and the entertainment in the arena. (We don't want you checking your cell phone)

    The militarism is the tip off- presidents always have a soldier hero for the State of the Union spectacle, the NFL promotes the military somewhat more than the other pro leagues. As long as we think that we Americans are number one and better off than all other countries, the 1% are safe. Football promotes machismo more than do the MLB or NBA, but they all keep us busy with manufactured spectacles. As ticket prices go higher and higher, they will lose some of their reach. Don't talk about Nazis and be more careful with details and spelling.
  •  my personal pet peeve (0+ / 0-)

    is the whole notion that we should watch the Super Bowl for the ads. As if the ads are in themselves the height of culture.

    So stop being a consumerist zombie. Record the game and then watch it without the commercials. Let's tell the corporations that spend millions of dollars on ads they are wasting their money because we do not watch commercials.

    Eventually the NFL will probably migrate to pay channels. Thursday Night Football, for example, is usually on the NFL Network, which is often in a cable package that you need to pay extra for. It would not surprise me to see NFL games on HBO or Pay-Per-View. The watching of NFL games may become a past time enjoyed by the upper middle-class and the wealthy. The poor and working poor will huddle around radios and listen to the broadcast like they did in the early years of the twentieth century. Although at least in the early twentieth century, the working poor could afford a ticket to get in the stadium, which is an apt metaphor for the times we live in. We are more and more becoming a nation of people on the outside looking in.

    "Ain't no blade can protect you from the True-True." - Old Georgie, Cloud Atlas.

    by klingman on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 03:31:03 PM PST

  •  I just don't like all the hype and money (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    A game is not supposed to be all about the money...
    Even the circus is in on big profits and big pay.... Not a sport all can enjoy equally.

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 05:14:05 PM PST

  •  Local football fans at a recent party (2+ / 0-)

    could not understand my reasons for my turning away as a fan due to the boondoggles of stadium politics, massive corporate presence even between commercials, bigotry that still lives and thrives in many teams, the high levels of corruption in college programs, etc.

    All I received for my requested explanation were blank stares and outright dismissals, as if something was wrong with me.

    "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

    by wader on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 08:39:05 PM PST

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