Football kills. Always has. Always will. Letting kids play is willfully doing them grievous bodily harm. And at that point, there’s no defense for it. No defense for anything destructive to children.
That’s sociopathy. And so is watching it with an eagerness unrivaled by any other network event periodically feted by our guttermuck trash culture.
In 1905 when around 20 players died, president Teddy Roosevelt summoned ivy league coaches to the white house for a gridiron summit. Several weeks later a Harvard punt returner called fair catch, and the tip of Yale’s flying wedge dropkicked him. Deadspin reports that many other amazing plays also went down that fateful November 25:
“Three players died that day. In a game against New York University, halfback Harold Moore of Union College tried to “buck the line,” in the words of the The St. Louis Republic. He was knocked unconscious by a blow to the head and died six hours later from a cerebral hemorrhage. He was 19.
“In Sedalia, Mo., 16-year-old Robert Brown was making a “run around the end,” or what we would know as an off-tackle run, when he was tackled and “thrown heavily upon the ground, alighting on his neck and shoulders…paralyzed from the neck down.” He died without regaining consciousness, according to the Mexico Missouri Message.
“Several hundred miles away in Rockville, Ind., Carl Osborne of Marshall High School was killed instantly when a broken rib punctured his heart, according to The St. Louis Republic.”
But the president was undeterred: “The sports especially dear to a vigorous and manly nation are always those in which there is a certain slight element of risk…It is mere unmanly folly to do away with the sport because the risk exists.”
Teddy was an early ultimate fighting visionary. He knew muscular christians lived and breathed righteous violence. It was no unintended consequence. It was the whole point of the gruesome spectacle.
In 1968, the game killed or paralyzed 66 players. More than a half-century later, and nobody had learned any lessons other than wear helmets and pads.
Players got bigger. Hits got harder. Deaths often weren’t instant, but came sporadically years later. To the point where it’s simply another tragic death. As though there’s no way to stop it.
The stark passage of uncaring time dissociates the victim from the murder.
Biggest broadcast event every year. Bigger than the oscars, emmys, and tonys combined. Bigger than the MTV videomusic awards. Bigger than any election. And – doubtless in a severe blow to his fragile ego – even bigger than the president himself. Just too bad we can’t supersize the super bowl.
Most expensive commercials ever. Immortalized against all better judgment for all eternity streaming 24/7 online. Every celebrity doggedly panting after the halftime show. Every coworker offering brilliant play-by-play analyses of one of the stupidest things imaginable: 22 XXXL adult males who bench and squat a thousand with limbs like trees crashing into each other at top speed.
And it sanctifies child abuse. No one is more of a community icon than the football coach. A grownass man who should know better. Screaming at little kids to get concussed.
Adamantly urging them to treat each other exactly how parents always tell them not to: “Knock the shit out that other boy! Hit his ass harder! Make him wish his momma never had him…this in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”
Monday night football. Friday night lights. Hometown heroes. Quarterbacks and homecoming queens.
Internal bleeding. Chipped and splintered bones. Permanent disability and brain damage acquired in adolescence.
Fucking assholes might as well throw the peewee team in front of a train. It’s disgraceful that this is the highlight of American public life.
But then recall action films, torture porn, or American gladiators and it all comes sharply back into focus. We thrive off these vicious pastimes. We crave it. Besides, ain’t no avoidin it neither.
World ain’t violent enough. Let’s recreate this mayhem in a semi-controlled environment and televise that shit to every jackass with nothing better to do than swig cheap beer and watch it. Gonna be a yuge fucking hit.
If football is going to be the point of an athletic young man’s existence, we ought to put that shit to work in service of our great nation. Like Ben Fountain wrote in his award-winning novel Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk:
“Where else but America could football flourish, America with its millions of fertile acres of corn, soy, and wheat, its lakes of dairy, its year-round gushers of fruits and vegetables, and such meats, that extraordinary pipeline of beef, poultry, seafood, and pork, feedlot gorged, vitamin enriched, and hypodermically immunized, humming factories of high-velocity protein production, all of which culminate after several generations of epic nutrition in this strain of industrial-sized humans?
“Only America could produce such giants…Billy tries to imagine the vast systems that support these athletes. They are among the best-cared-for creatures in the history of the planet, beneficiaries of the best nutrition, the latest technologies, the finest medical care, they live at the very pinnacle of American innovation and abundance, which inspires an extraordinary thought – send them to fight the war!
“Send them just as they are at this moment, well rested, suited up, psyched for brutal combat, send the entire NFL! Attack with all our bears and raiders, our ferocious redskins, our jets, eagles, falcons, chiefs, patriots, cowboys – how could a bunch of skinny hajjis in man-skirts and sandals stand a chance against these all-Americans?
“Resistance is futile, oh Arab foes. Surrender now and save yourself a world of hurt, for our mighty football players cannot be stopped, they are so huge, so strong, so fearsomely ripped that mere bombs and bullets bounce off their bones of steel. Submit, lest our awesome NFL show you straight to the flaming gates of hell!”
If they’re willing to die for football, they should be willing to die for their country too.
Ps. And the lazy, vicarious experience of watching sports is boring. Put down the chips, get your fat ass off the fucking couch, go outside, and just diy.