American Football Fantasy

by on September 12, 2014 · 1 comment

in Civil Rights, Culture, Economy, Education, Politics, San Diego, Sports

By Jay Powell

football punchI enjoy American-style football because I enjoy the variety of plays, the effort, the amazing feats that occasionally occur during a game. The incredible runs. Completed forward passes. (I think the forward pass is one of the finest inventions of mankind) Intercepted passes and run backs from kickoffs.

I only played dis- or intentionally un- organized football in various intramural and amateur leagues or just plain back lot, mud ball where we refereed ourselves. We sanctioned players who wanted to hurt people. We loved playing the game.

What can we do to incentivize that part of the game and dis-incentivize all the behavior that is really just sanctioned violence and no-holds-barred war that essentially rewards bad behavior (really on and off the field…)? Please, a fifteen yard penalty is nothing compared to breaking someone’s bones, back, brain doing something we ALL know is meant to harm.

Oh, you smacked your lady? gotta sit out a few games (whoa! that “other” video was a little too ugly, you gotta go ’cause now people are asking why all these super stars in our sport are beating people up like they maybe think that’s OK).

You want to see real team work? Punish the whole team for bad behavior. Punish both teams.

Here is an idea. Maybe try a different kind of American football. Take off all the “protective gear” except a protective (to both the wearer and anyone colliding with it ) light helmet. I think we have the biodynamic engineering capability. I know, we won’t get to hear that crack like ram’s horns and go “ooh , ahh , whoa ! …”, but then we won’t be supporting a sport that is knowingly homogenizing brain matter in boys and young men.

No extensive and extraneous (like for the media) time outs. Rugby doesn’t have time outs for a bus full of coaches to figure out: “golly, what should we do?” and freeze the kicker and on and on and on with a booth full of experts radioing down plays. Provide time for substitutions. The games don’t need to last so damn long. Let’s see more players actually play. Wow, think about that word. Play.

If someone is injured by contact deemed an egregious, deliberate penalty, the game ends and it is recorded as a 0-0 tie and goes to arbitration by a representative body of refs, players and owners to determine the outcome. No more fifteen yards and maybe the worst is the player committing the penalty has to leave the field for the rest of the game.

You want to see real team work? Punish the whole team for bad behavior. Punish both teams. You just won’t risk losing your job for someone or something you know will deliberately cause harm and lose the game and incidentally piss off the owners, your teammates and a stadium full of people who actually have to go do something else. Maybe a new kind of “dare to play fair” kind of ethos.

The reality is that football as it is now practiced in America is one of, if not the most, expensive and brutal sports known to man. It is practiced in a way that rewards bad behavior. Yes, rugby and soccer have their own difficulties and injuries, but I believe a look at statistics—especially the brain injuries—would show a significant difference from American football.

And then there is our primal need for group identification. There has been a lot of talk about how somehow the Chargers are an essential part of San Diego for our collective psyches. Really? That’s all we got for each other?

All sports are way over hyped – world wide. Because, as others have pointed out, they are heavily subsidized mainly by externalizing much of the real costs including the long term injuries to the players and their families, and of course, the public gifts for capital costs of extravagant stadiums with exclusive, exotic suites for the very, very wealthy or foolish (or both).

No, American football is reflective of a lot of what is going awry in our society, from the continuing aggregation of real wealth to a smaller number, to the “corporations are people so shut up and watch our game and buy our crap and vote for our representatives”. It is a symptom of our instant gratification and “please distract me from all the other weird stuff going on– eww, did he just cut that guy’s head off?”

And then there is our primal need for group identification. There has been a lot of talk about how somehow the Chargers are an essential part of San Diego for our collective psyches. Really? That’s all we got for each other?

Mayor Faulconer is dutifully finding a way to create an “open, transparent process” to consider Papa Doug Manchester’s vision of clogging downtown with more people and more cars, in search of satisfaction (Wayne Raffesberger’s commentary in the UT last week makes the point about how downtown really can’t handle that much more huge event visitors). Somehow problems funding two entertainment venues is just what we needed. Stay tuned, we are going to get the “sports arena” back into the mix soon.

Well, let’s have the open, transparent, inclusive civic discussion focusing on whether we want to invest in what American football has become or perhaps some other worthwhile things we need for people to truly aspire to help each other and live fulfilling lives and maybe save ourselves from boiling the planet dry. The term “neighborhoods first” has been co-opted by those serving the Chamber and their cohorts, but we all know that a give-away of public resources to a sports palace that promotes violence and avarice is not putting neighborhoods first.

Now, I sure hope that UCLA gets its act together before their first conference game … not sure my heart can stand another season of …..whoops!…. I…er , ah, I mean I can’t wait to see the NFL and NCAA adopt my new fantasy football rules.

Really, I can’t wait.

This first appeared at our online media partner,San Di ego Free Press.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Avatar Bud Sonka September 13, 2014 at 7:49 pm

Well said (watching the UCLA right this moment).

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