History-making music group for UMM - morris mn

History-making music group for UMM - morris mn
The UMM men's chorus opened the Minnesota Day program at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair (Century 21 Exposition).

Friday, November 8, 2013

Richie Incognito & another ominous cloud for football

We in Minnesota are committed to a Vikings stadium that may be a bridge too far. Who hasn't had thoughts in the back of his/her mind about this? The stadium takes on a life of its own, as if we're mere observers and unable to demand any real accountability.
Who can feel certain football will continue with its popularity? The sport takes nicks to its image constantly. The awareness of health issues is more than a mere nick. Another problem is the anachronistic nature of football culture. That anachronism is in full view with the Richie Incognito matter.
Incognito is the poster boy for testosterone-fueled, in-your-face football "macho." Joe Kapp was once on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the caption "man of machismo."
Hasn't the concept of "manly" pastimes gone the way of Foster Brooks, the "Lovable Lush" - remember? - who made a living imitating drunks. Brooks got famous on those Dean Martin roasts. Ol' Dean-o was the "rat-packer," suavely holding a cigarette, who promoted the idea of beautiful women with "curves in the right places." I point out these cultural changes because I believe the sport of football is threatened by the same kind of change.
We in Minnesota are committed to a Taj Mahal type of stadium while we increasingly learn about the troubling aspects of football culture and the obvious barbarity - men damaging their bodies and brains. I can remember when UMM football in Morris was accompanied by a real swagger. I'll congratulate UMM for easing its program out of that image. UMM also promotes the far better alternative to football: soccer. If only we could get soccer propped up as an alternative for the teen boys of our community.
For that matter, do we even need a sport that is exclusively for boys? Why a sport for boys only? I suppose the physical rigors of football would be too much for women? Well, we seem to be learning that the rigors are too much for men.
The moral of the story might be that a sport that is too dangerous for girls is too dangerous for everyone.
Girls and women are privileged: they are not drawn into a sport that dishes out real serious health consequences. Those of us who are concerned about the Vikings stadium, and about Mark Dayton's myopic stance regarding it, are alarmed by a litany of news reports showing football in a bad light.
Daily we hear about the Incognito matter. (I'm wondering how someone comes to have a last name - "Incognito" - that I understand to be a word rather than a name. "Incognito" means having one's true identity concealed.)
A guy with character issues
Richard Domnick Incognito Jr. is an intimidating jerk. We can all remember someone like him in our lives.
Intimidation is normally a bad thing, but football is all about rolling over your opponent. Richie Incognito can accomplish this with his 324 pounds and 6'3" stature. Offensive lineman hardly seem like athletes. They seem like fully loaded trucks.
You would think a bully on a football team would at least support his own teammates. But Incognito loomed like a huge imposing nuisance for a fellow Miami Dolphin. The victim here is Jonathan Martin. Not that Incognito doesn't have other victims in his past. He has a long-established reputation. He's tolerated in the NFL because he can apparently help you win. Coaches are paid to win. Winning is the product, as it is in Division I college ball. You win by overpowering and by seeking to intimidate. On the field this is brutal. We as fans either don't notice or are in denial.
Joe Philbin is coach of the Dolphins. He only speaks on this messy situation because he has to. He'd happily look the other way if he could just get some wins.
Football's "tough" culture is coming to light in an unflattering way. We're learning that Incognito had coaches' instructions to "toughen up" Martin. Martin left the Dolphins with emotional issues after being subjected to bullying from that raging soul, Incognito. Someone has wondered if Incognito suffers from " 'roid rage."
The pressure to win in the NFL is overwhelming. We see quarterback Jay Cutler of Chicago desperately trying to return to action after a groin injury - a premature return. Players know the risks but succumb to football's spell as if it was a siren song. We read about retired players who are pathetic because of the toll the game took. The game was like an elixir for them. Where else might many of these men have been able to perform in front of tens of thousands of admiring fans?
We as a society have created this monster. We have done it at the micro level with elaborate football facilities - we sure have one in Morris - that are like shrines to this barbaric and increasingly dated-looking sport, a sport that could get filed away with "rat pack" humor and the "cocktail hour."
Incognito is suspended. That's because media attention painted the NFL into a corner. There may be too many leaks in the NFL's ship, though.
It's unforgivable that in order to "toughen up" Martin, Incognito felt he had to employ racial epithets and profane language in voicemail and text messages.
The crudeness reminds me of UMM Cougar football's previous era marked by that masculine swagger. The best exhibit I can put forward is the "Cougar Follies" that was an absolutely unnecessary event leading into the season. The more crude, the better. I remember mentioning "Cougar Follies" in a chat with then-Chancellor Jack Imholte - the title was "Provost" then - and Jack saying "the less people know about that, the better." I remember being at the 9F Sportsmen's Club waiting for this event to start, and players were a little slow in quieting down, and one of the captains (initials S.S.) stood up and yelled "shut the f--- up!" That set the tone.
A less-gentle time
We all went along with UMM's football swagger and its testosterone source, because UMM football won. That of course eventually changed. I think a lot of us were privately annoyed by that swagger when it reigned.
We probably knew better than to laugh at a lot of the "rat pack" humor with its misogyny. But cultural change happens slowly. We realize a certain thing is wrong but we keep our finger in the wind to make sure there's a societal consensus.
So many of us question the new Vikings stadium. There are so many storm clouds around the sport of football. Not only that, an increasing number of fans prefer watching the game on TV and aren't interested in "being there." How many of us choose to watch a game start-to-finish? It's almost intolerable with all the breaks. Football is an entertainment product subject to all the vicissitudes of the entertainment market. It has had an incredibly successful reign as a golden goose. But there's a saying: The bigger they come, the harder they fall.
The story involving Richie Incognito has been high-profile in the media for several days, even breaking beyond the boundaries of sports reporting. It's in the straight news because we sense this is a cultural issue. As a cultural issue it puts football on trial. Coaches have looked the other way with Incognito's sins. The player has a long history of bullying. As a freshman at Nebraska he picked fights and harassed teammates. He has been described as "a privileged jock who likes to make life miserable for opponents and easy targets."
The media in a subliminal way seem to be telling us that Incognito's misbehavior reflects an anachronistic culture. We all know football has intimidation. It's "news" now because we're questioning it.
"Tear away the illusions"
On Wednesday there was another big headline coming out of the NFL: John Moffitt of the Broncos choosing to walk away from the game. He's forfeiting tons of money. He says he'll still have enough money.
You're in the wrong age, John - money is everything in our contemporary culture. Or at least it has been.
Moffitt said he "lost his love for the game." He was "tired of risking his health." He was a third-year guard from Wisconsin.
Moffitt says it's "madness to risk your body, to risk your well-being and happiness for money." He continued: "I just want to be happy. And I find that people who have the least in life are sometimes the happiest. And I don't have the least in life. And I don't want to sacrifice my health for that."
Moffitt said of pro football: "Once you tear away all the illusions of it, it's hard work. And it's dangerous work."
As fans we can cling to those "illusions." Governor Dayton apparently is.
The NFL is having to put out these little brushfires of horrible publicity all the time. The public can't stay fooled for long. We finally had enough of Foster brooks, Dean Martin, the "cocktail hour" and "curvaceous women." Civilization finally takes over.
In the meantime, we'll be watching a new Vikings stadium go up as if it were some magnificent palace in Sodom and Gomorrah.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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