I’ve felt ambivalent about watching football for a while. But football is amazing to watch—I mean that literally. Feats of athleticism that will amaze you happen in every game. It’s spectacular, in the sense that it’s a spectacle, and a whole fucking production. (80,000 screaming fans, flyovers, fireworks, multiple camera units, etc.)
What’s more, football is ubiquitous. One of the reasons I follow sports is that it’s a lingua franca. I have made connections with people whose backgrounds are very different from mine, simply because we saw the same spectacular alleyoop or dinger or pettiness, or engaged in a passionate debate about whether Shaq or Kobe was more important to the 2000-03 Lakers dynasty. (It was obviously Shaq.) Also, this next point is really important. I mean this sincerely, from the bottom of my heart: fuck Kobe.
On a similar note, some people say that Russell Wilson isn’t an “elite quarterback,” which is a phrase that nobody has ever been define to my satisfaction. Apparently, you know it when you see it, like obscenity. Or a walking duck talking about spades. Anyway, anyone who thinks that Russell Wilson isn’t an elite quarterback is a moron.
Anyway, sports is entertainment for me, and it’s also one of the ways that I engage with history and my fellow man. It’s much more than that. It’s political. Which is one reason why the NFL is a bummer this year. Trump got his stink all over the league this year, which isn’t great, but doesn’t really affect my enjoyment of the game—football owners have always been authoritarian pricks. Kissing up to Trump and blackballing activist players is exactly the sort of thing I have always thought those ghouls did.
What bothers me more is the constant, simmering crisis caused by the violence fundamental to football. The men who play college and pro football maim themselves in the process. That violence causes some of them to break their brains. Or maybe the bad ones just get too used to hitting people. Either way, too many women close to the game get beat up or raped. Each year, the appalling consequences of football’s violence becomes more clear, in a study or a domestic violence case or 12.
So I don’t know if watching football is bad. I suspect it is. Either way, I’ll be watching the… interesting… new Seahawks squad on Sunday.
Also published on Medium.