Sports, Football, Column

Your Week Of Slowly And Painfully Hating Football

Come on, don’t do this. Is a cheap beer aisle really the place to consider your values?

Just take the Bud Light up to the counter and pay for it. It’s already in your hand. Who cares that it says NFL all over the box and on all 24 cans? Are you really going to put it back for something else because of three letters?

What’s changed? Alleged domestic and child abusers may be playing this weekend. The league office and the franchises alternate between not caring enough about that fact and pretending to care so much post-backlash that there’s no way the care is genuine.

But it’s just football and this is just beer. You know you’re going to watch on Sunday, and especially on Monday. That’s when the Eagles play. Just buy the Bud Light. Don’t put it back.

What difference does it make?

Okay, this is better. It’s college football. BC and USC. This doesn’t feel as dirty.

Has it really come to this? Sure, you think these athletes are exploited, but only to the degree that things could be better and fairer for them. Whether they get a $2,000-a-year stipend or freedom to transfer schools as they wish feels like it matters less tonight. It still matters, but definitely less.

Tyler Murphy runs into the end zone, and the students run onto the field, and it’s cool. It’s really cool. After the game you write about two exciting freshmen, and you’re proud of it, and people seem to like it, and everything feels cool again.

You definitely don’t hate football. Stop it.

Just watch the game. Why wouldn’t you? Do you care any less what happens to Philly? Of course you don’t. You championed dog-fighter Michael Vick signing with this team—you bought his freaking shirt—but now you might take a stand sitting alone on your couch on a Monday night. Why?

You watch the game. Dear lord, Darren Sproles is amazing. This is fun, right? Football can still be fun? You drift in and out during the game. Every time Jon Gruden starts talking about Ray Rice or Adrian Peterson, you feel your hand grab the remote, but you never actually click away.

Philly wins. You nod, clap a few times, and then get up from the couch, relieved you made it through the whole game.

You didn’t hate those three hours, right?

You don’t even believe the league should punish players like this. Let the legal system handle these issues. Blame the courts when things go wrong. You don’t need the NFL and Roger Goodell to be your moral arbiter.

Maybe that’s the problem—they’re trying to be. Someone shouldn’t get suspended for the season for barely failing a drug test when another player gets two games because there’s video of the aftermath of him punching his wife and another player misses zero games because there’s no video of him allegedly dragging his then-girlfriend by the hair through their home and threatening to kill her.

That shouldn’t all reverse course because there’s another video and there are more accusations and sponsors release statements to please the public. Punishments and stances on abuse shouldn’t be determined by the bottom line.

SI’s Peter King says Goodell “has determined that he will be a leader in the domestic-violence space,” after Anheuser Busch slaps the league on the wrist. You hope you never have to hear another word from those two morons again, but you know you will.

You hate football because you hate the football media and you hate the people in charge. That doesn’t mean you have to hate the players, too. Sproles, Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy—you don’t hate them. Why can’t you just enjoy watching them?

Why does it matter?

You watch another college game. Again, it’s not as hard as the NFL games have been. Then some kid your age cuts across the middle and gets leveled by a linebacker. A few years ago you’d stand up and scream. Now you hold your breath. The kid stands up. You change the channel mid-exhale, but when there’s nothing else on, you flip back to the game and keep it on until the end.

You can handle this.

Your kids are never going to play football. You know that for a fact. But how are you going to keep them and their developing brains off the field if they see you always watching, always wearing burnt orange, always talking about recruiting and game plans and highlights and why this coach or that coordinator needs to get fired?

You hate football. You hate what it’s doing to you. You hate what it will do to you.

You watch Thursday and Friday and Saturday and Sunday and Monday anyway. You watch less—every week and every year you watch a little less—but you still watch.

You know it’s going to be a slow and painful death. But you also know now that this relationship with football is, eventually, going to die.

Featured Image by Graham Beck / Heights Senior Staff

September 21, 2014