|Adrian Peterson of the Vikings|
The U of M Gophers lost badly to the TCU Horned Frogs. Will this strange honeymoon for Jerry Kill now end? Could Tim Brewster possibly have done any worse yesterday? It's bad enough we have to hold our breath to see if Kill will have a seizure that would make many of us think he's dying. He may be handicapped but he could choose a lower-profile job.
Weekends have traditionally been when football rules. Such is the sport's popularity, though, and such is the TV industry's lust for dollars, strings have been pulled to see we get dosages of football well beyond the weekend. Football is truly the golden goose. It's a wonderful position for those who can rake in the dollars.
Football was once a sport that TV came along and televised - today the sport is like an extension of TV itself. Everyone with a vested interest in the ratings and the commercials joins hands to flood the market and make hay. Football massages its rules to make sure there's lots of passing. The germane question right now is: Will this entertainment phenomenon finally run its course?
Consumers of entertainment don't feel any special allegiance - they'll consume it as long as they feel like it, and will "push away from the table" any time they feel like it. The bigger they come, the harder they fall. Pro football is like the 800-pound gorilla. It's thumping its chest atop a mountain of sorts now. We consume this game to an extent where I think a lot of us are becoming conscious of the obsession and starting to ask ourselves "why?" The news of the past week might make us accent those doubts.
What kind of human beings are out there, engaging in this sport which is defined by its violence? Ray Rice punches out his wife. Our Adrian Peterson does something to his kid that I wouldn't wish to describe here. Peterson already had a checkered background. Now, today, we wonder how much enthusiasm we really ought to summon watching this sport.
I began writing skeptically about football a couple years ago. With hand-wringing urgency, I wrote about how boys should think twice before playing youth football. I have implored local leaders to encourage soccer as an alternative to football. Maybe Morris MN has a dubious self-interest in pumping up football to show how wise we were in getting Big Cat Stadium built. A pox on us, if this is true. That hulking thing sits there through all the cold weather months giving us no value whatsoever.
What has football given us here in Morris? It has given us the most notorious news happening in our history: the goalpost incident in 2005 in which a student was killed.
How many of our youth have received injuries the effects of which might linger for years? Coaches implore their young charges to lift weights in the off-season. Why? To get bigger and stronger so they can knock opposing players on their petard next fall? Opposing players who simply are from another town, thus need to be framed in some sort of "enemy" way? Our high school football team obliterated the YME team on Friday at Big Cat. Does that show we're "better?" What does it show? Mainly, it shows we simply have more, bigger, stronger and older players than the opposing community.
Congratulations. I hope no players were dealt injuries with long-term effects.
I am so abundantly thankful I never played football. Yeah, and my detractors would say "you would have been hopeless, you SOB." Yes, I would have been. But at age 59, I don't have to worry about any debilitating effects from such a background. Amen and hallelujah.
What exactly is the point of high school sports rivalries? Is it an extension of our old war culture? The kids on these opposing teams have no reason to summon such terrible resolve to knock opponents on their rear end, to make them writhe in discomfort. I'm sure the kids themselves know better. They do what society expects, gritting their teeth to try to garner victory, to run until exhausted, to savor that triumphant feeling of looking up at the scoreboard and seeing a superior number of points.
In a past time, we were at least able to compartmentalize football better. It was a side distraction. We weren't flooded with this distraction. Many pundits are sounding a clarion call for the sport. Many are warning that the 800-pound gorilla could get knocked off its perch for a variety of reasons. They are wholly correct. But it just isn't happening yet.
One pundit said "TV destroys what it creates." TV latches onto something that is popular and ultimately drains it. It's like the pop songs that climb the charts and then go back down. We get tired of things that are popular. We eventually look for something new. History will record that football grew into this true opiate of the masses. Maybe someday we'll wrinkle our foreheads wondering how it got like that.
Skeptics of the sport like me wonder if the Rice and Peterson cases, among others, could be a tipping point. As I write this, there seems no evidence of that.
I have successfully minimized my watching of the sport. I cannot yet erase it completely. I have decided that anytime I really want to watch football, I'll watch it. I won't go through some artificial commitment to tune out - no one would notice. But increasingly I find I really can put aside football on weekends, and discover other ways to enrich my mind.
All these Vikings seasons are just bleeding into each other. Can any of you tell me any highlights of the Vikings season of, say, five years ago? Why are we so mesmerized when there is no enduring value to these escapades? It's like a sugar high, perhaps just something to break up the monotony of our week. But we can do better. We can find alternatives.
The entertainment industry can craft alternatives. It's overdue in doing this. TV destroys what it creates. We really need that behemoth industry of TV to come through with that now. We have been pulled around by football for too long.