Editorials — November 3, 2015 12:22 — 0 Comments

Football Anger: Why The NFL Is Evil

The image of a crumbled Ricardo Lockette on the field during Sunday’s Seattle Seahawks game crystalized – yet again – the disgustingly violent nature of football.

It’s a game that puts its workforce in peril every single week, a workforce that’s nearly 70% black. But the NFL’s teams, it’s no surprise, are owned and coached by whites in the vast majority (in fact there is no black majority NFL owner). It’s a league that values the strongest and the fastest, caring little about the result of those two forces meeting in collision on the field.

With Lockette’s unconscious body laying there on national television, the Fox broadcast callously cut to highlights of the only other afternoon football game. This is business as usual.

Football and its unrelenting, fervent infrastructure, has caused players to become paralyzed, lose fingers and deal with debilitating brain injuries. It’s also a game that harbors some of the country’s most depraved, violent individuals.

Sunday’s game featured Greg Hardy, a defensive player for the Cowboys who tossed his girlfriend on a futon covered in guns and threatened her. On the Seattle side of the ball, Frank Clark, a man accused of domestic violence, played a big role disrupting the Cowboys offense line.

In a world where people are cut off from traditions, our imagination and attention span fragmented by constant stimuli, pressure to earn a living and keep up with the rapidly changing technological foundations of our capitalist economy, football reigns supreme. There is little in our lives like the NFL. It is the bridge between many fathers and sons. It is the constant in our weekly hopes, from rooting for the team and following its moves, to watching, unblinkly, on Sundays.

Football has replaced, for many, a love of reading, a watchfulness on the country’s political players, care for health and diet. Above all else, football matters, everything else just gets in the way. This is what led to the Fox’s broadcaster on Sunday, mere minutes after Lockette’s body was removed by a stretcher in an ambulance, to say of Hardy, “Whatever you think of him as a man, he can play.”

Within this quote is the idea that football is paramount. That Hardy’s constitution as a man is not as important as his ability on the football field. If the broadcaster was to enumerate Hardy’s transgressions it would diminish the game, break the spell we’re all under as observers, which is exactly why he didn’t do so, despite the fact they are in everyone’s mind during every camera shot of the player.

Collectively we all turn a blind eye. From the top (Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and league commissioner, Roger Goodell) to bottom (each and every fan). Instead we’re excited, we push through a unified momentum players who are physically able enough to compete – but who we forget about easily once they can’t.

And the result is two-fold: we make gods of men who should be behind bars, men who have altered the psychological and physical lives of women for the much worse. And we risk the lives of gifted athletes who collapse after a given hit and are taken out on a stretcher as easily as they are removed from our minds.

And what if Lockette had died there on the field Sunday? If his spine had moved in a different way, just a fraction of a centimeter, from that terrible hit? Would that have taken eyeballs off the field, off the week-to-week grudge matches? If so, probably not many.

Football is a game that millions of people watch every Sunday. It is this gathering of the masses that makes it even more appealing. Appointed gladiators battle for the supremacy of a team, a city, a general area. If the Seahawks win the Super Bowl, the city wins the Super Bowl, the state wins the Super Bowl, the whole Pacific Northwest wins the Super Bowl. And then it is on to the next season.

We are two years removed from the ‘Hawks’ Super Bowl win. In the mean time countless players have been injured, cut and tossed out. Most of them black. Coaches, though, have gone on to better jobs and continued, long careers. Their health, like mine, is in tact.

Slowly, thankfully, we are seeing more people write about the disgusting nature of football. Many, like The Stranger’s Spike Friedman, note that we are headed toward an abyss. Meaning football, as we know it, may come to an end. LeBron James said he won’t let his sons play the game. If I had children, I wouldn’t either. Football may turn into boxing where only the poorest play it as a means to get out of the ghettos. But this doesn’t make it any better.

The spell the game has on America is insane. Despite the fact we keep trying to ship the sport to places like England and Germany, it’s not taking hold. Games are broadcast as far away as Vietnam, but no one there seems to really care. It’s a function of America’s lust for destruction. It should be no surprise that the country with the biggest military machine (by far!) is the country that likes to watch its physical geniuses hurt and nearly kill each other on the field week by week, from grade school to manhood.

So now what? Will eyeballs drop off the games? Will young athletes turn to basketball, baseball or soccer? Maybe. But in the mean time we have to at least talk about this more often. We can’t ignore the bodies of our citizens crumpling on the field even if we can say, “Well, they chose to play the game.” Because it’s not just their choice, after all. It’s one we make as a citizenship. Together.

Let us no longer be a nation like the Fox broadcasters that turns away from the awfulness that is football for the sake of just another highlight. It’s not worth it.


Jake Uitti is a founding editor of The Monarch Review.

Leave a Reply

The answer isn't poetry, but rather language

- Richard Kenney