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NFL: Dominant Dumbdown

December 11, 2016


The last election broke from all reasonable expectations, happy or despondent about the results, by some reports not even the victor thought he was going to win. In a similar break from inevitability, NFL football has signs it is losing its historically unrelenting  momentum.

Actually there is only one sign that the NFL might be slipping in its pre-eminence but it’s the only one that counts: TV ratings. In certain games, at certain times, fewer people are watching NFL games than last year – gasp -.

This NFL ebb does not make me scared, bereft or in mourning as so many were at the outcome of the last election. Although I deeply love football, and it’s essential selflessness, I am just not that into the NFL. Although about 1,100,000 humans play football every year there are billions who just watch the 1,600 or so who play professionally.

When you play for ratings, you devote your efforts to gaining approval and you change to get an outcome. NFL football changed its mode of playing and it lost its essential appeal for me, so its problems do not affect me very much, but the football world is in a mild panic.

Analogies were made from under the Smart Set Rock to the ebbing of ancient Roman Gladiatorial appeal. Others bellow “Colin Kaepernick’s Commie Knee-taking!” “No one watches TV” was murmured the Millennial analysts. “Overexposure!” was gleefully offered by the TV Pundit. Not even the NFL Network’s “Tackle My Ride” show cleverly efforting cross marketing to the huge audience of The History Channel’s “Counting Cars” has brought in enough new viewers to bind the bloodletting.

This tiny chink in the cash gobbling/spewing/centric NFL, while not as disturbing to the norms of historic expectation as the last election, it is revealing.

If I love Football, why do I not love the NFL? Because the football I played, coached and the player I fathered was completely imbued with a devotion to sacrifice that is the polar opposite to the Star System of Big Time College and professional football. Its essence has been distorted by extreme application – and exemity seems to be a trending trend in 21st century culture.

I love America and the Constitution it manifests, but I loath the extreme politics and power grubbing of the current climate. The parallel of dumbing down football to a video game watched by billions of experts who never played is pretty clear to me. If you read the Constitution the extreme  anger, mourning and hopelessness of any election loss is simply voided. If you understand the actual reasons young men try so hard and risk so much for a game, Fantasy Football and the NFL are, to me, just not that interesting.

The NFL is simply about making money out of human striving – kinda linke the machines of government printing cash to get votes to get power: the essential foundation of America, the Constitution is lost in most everything we see screaming at us on cable TV.

Football, for the 15,000,000 men who have played it was not about money. It was about doing something in sacrifice for something greater than you – mostly for the guy next to you on the field. It was accepting danger and pain because there was a connection to others that is unique, and not possible once the tightly circumscribed window of playing is over. Coaches and parents of players touch it, but football does not hug back any of its lovers save its players.

So when a deeply personal thing becomes public to make money, making love becomes porn.

Faith in God becomes buying indulgences, “The Prosperity Gospel” or being elected to the Vestry.

Parenting becomes The Octomom.

Football becomes Fantasy Football.

There is about an 8 year window to play for players whose parents allow for youth football plus high school. Another 4 years for about 5% of those who go on to play in college and maybe 4 or 12 years for the .001% of those who make it to the NFL. But there is a lot of desire for those who cannot play any more to live on in something you love so deeply that you endanger yourself and others so much to do. Those who never played want to own some piece of what the see has extreme value for the players.

So fantasy Football was made: 99% Fantasy and 1% Football.

Going to games is passive. You buy a ticket and declare you could do it better as you watch. But some evil geniuses figured out a way to simulate football in the most sanitized ignorant way possible: Fantasy Football.

There are no teams that practice together, manifest coaching approaches, adapt to opponents, injury and weather. There are no games.

There are just individuals who perform. And only individuals that have stats are part of it. There are whole team defenses to choose, but nothing, nothing, means as much as the offensive stats of skill players.

This is an insane reduction of reality. It reduces football to 6 humans out of the .22 on the field. Fantasy Football becomes the soft core porn version of itself engendering reactive stimulation to a vignette of what its made from. Thinking that simply analyzing numbers means understanding anything human gave us “Stagflation”, the Iraq War, and The Housing Bubble. But millions do it.

And football is lost.

The football I deeply love: that I performed by high school and sucked too much to go on and all the other low level college players who only play because they know can do better, by devotion, by belief, by love – not stats – is simply not part of Fantasy Football. This localvore football knows no salary, no scholarships, no benefits other than fulfilling your potential in more venues than the lab or the rave.

Everyone below a certain level of football is slow, physically limited and prone to errors. Unlike the ultimate expression of simulated football, Madden – the very model of what the NFL aspires to be: mudless, bloodless violence and bling. With even less investment that Fantasy Foitball, the simulation is completely internal, never aspiring, just pushing buttons in front of a screen. And millions buy it, literally.

The things we hold dear, our beliefs, our values, our loves are continually manipulated by those who see its potential to make money, gain power and simply be the baddest dude in the room. It’s the same motivation for dominance that makes a lot of young males play football – but in a time when extremity is its own reward, football becomes a place of victimization and dehumanizing violence.

Because when all you see is a live video game where superstars triumph or are wrecked the humanity leaves football. Absent humanity, football easily becomes fantasy – a good fit in a culture which is becoming more and more based on the virtual and extreme, at the expense of who we are…kinda like the last election.

 

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