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Putting the F in Football

September 13, 2010

I am perhaps the only person alive who will admit to attending a New Haven Ninja Arena Football game – note that this was a MINOR LEAGUE Arena League team that lasted one season sometime when the Coliseum had not yet been recycled. So its not surprising I felt a little tingle at the announcement that Hartford will be getting a UFL pro football team, the Colonials.

But nothing (nothing) will cure the hurt of the one week of bliss when all the stars seemed to align and pre-felon Gov. Rowland had seemed to manage the Patriots becoming Nutmeggers over a decade ago. Yes, and the state income tax was a temporary revenue gap filler….

So yes, I am a butt boy for football. But football has some PR issues. All pro sports seem to have thuggish gun-toting, drug using, date-raping, car crashing miscreants. And Kardashian-dating , brain-dead reality TV show ego-posers are not limited to football players.

But “football” is near synonymous for “dumb jock”. This perception is not contradicted by the New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan being recorded dozens of times oathing the All-American F-Bomb on the reality ESPN reality TV show “Hard Knocks”.

Truth be told the F-Bomb is integral to the sport. Despite public outcry from former Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy for Coach Ryan’s unabated stream of F-fluent, cursing is part of all sports, whether the teams and coaches are male, female, pro or pee wee.

But Football and the King of All Curses, the F Word, have a special relationship. I only know this because I have been meshed with the sport one way or another for 40 years. Playing it, coaching those who play it, parenting one who is playing it, all involved using an unending stream of F-explicatives as nouns (usually referring to a person), a verb (never in a procreational sense), adverbs (indicating an extreme intensity of the action described), or adjectives (almost always negative).

Why would one normally forbidden word be part of the aural warp and woof of a core part of our popular culture? Is it because this is one sport that despite the very occasional precocious high school female is universally male? When we lose one wing of the XX chromosome to make it XY does a verbal filter become genetically recessive ?– Dubious as female rock stars from Pink to Patty Smith curse a blue streak at the drop of a down beat.

Is it because football is based in combat? The soldiers I have known curse a great deal, but they do not seem to have the integration of the F-word as a near mantra metering almost every phrase, from uttered to screamed. Is it a condition of a word specific Tourettes Syndrome due to grinding synthetic turf into our skin? That cannot be true as a recent Connecticut study found no real health concerns for ground-up tire particulates being ingested but hyperventilating sweat hogs.

Besides, the F-ization of football nomenclature has existed before “Turf” was a gleam in some nameless Monsanto carpet engineer’s eyes. I know this because as a caption of a terrible high school football team I was the offensive center and defensive middle linebacker, the two positions that gather the young tribe together to rally, plot and then join in an expression of unity known as the “Huddle”.

 In my role as literal ring leader during one absurdly awful performance I dropped so many F-expressions into my exasperated rallying cry, a nearby referee, (always a former player, and thus an F-friendly audience) felt compelled to drop into my full volume spew of vile invective to tersely, authoritatively shout – “Take it easy!”

I am left to contemplate twin realities. As an author of a bunch of books, articles and presentations I have never typed the F-expression into any verbal or prose product. But, in certain audiences it is quite effective. Truth be told among friends I think I carpet bomb the conversation with the forbidden verbal spice.

But it is a unique relationship that exists between a monosyllabic slang bang of extreme pungency and the sport of football. Most of my friends think of my ardent love of the sport as a quaint confirmation that it was reasonable for me to be denied admission to Harvard.

The F word infusion in football only reinforces that perception. To those who view the blood sport/war game of football as a sad descent into tribalism and raw testosterone infused culture-sanctioned brutality and violence, I can only say, actually, no … I can’t.

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