With football season upon us, I was recently asked “Why do you watch football? What do you get out of it?”
My immediate response was something akin to “Same reason I watch anything on TV: because I enjoy it.”
But the question did get me thinking more about it. I can give you actual reasons why I like the TV shows or movies I like. Be it characters, action, storyline twists, etc. So I started trying to narrow down the reasons why I enjoy watching football. Then I narrowed it down further, since I don’t really care about college football, to why do I watch the NFL.
Oddly enough, the first thing I thought of was “How can I watch the NFL? Especially when taking the league as a whole.”
The NFL is an organization that celebrates violence, and glorifies the men who are best at inflicting it. This mindset has led to an ongoing concussion issue carrying over from the days when there weren’t many rules other than Touchdowns = 6 points. The NFL has thrown some money at this issue, a lot by most standards, but not nearly enough to help all of the players who are suffering from brain injuries sustained in their playing days.
Even more disturbing is how the culture of violence that has permeated the lives of current players, and how the NFL has dealt with it. Mike Vick, Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, Rae Carruth, and Lawrence Phillips and Aaron Hernandez are the few (of many) examples that I can think of off the top of my head.
Vick walked out of prison and into another hundred million dollar contract. LOTS of THINGS I’d like to see happen to anyone involved in dog fighting, but getting a massive contract to play in the NFL is not among them. Rice got suspended for two games, TWO games, for knocking out his girlfriend and then dragging her limp body out of an elevator. Only when the actual video tape was made public did Commission Roger Goodell issue something even approaching an appropriate ruling.
Greg Hardy also beat on his girlfriend, and then threw her onto a bed full of guns. He got suspended for ten games, which is better than two games, but then that got knocked down to just four games. Carruth is a convicted murderer, Phillips is serving a few decades for assault and attempted murder, and Hernandez likely won’t be playing football anywhere but a prison yard for the rest of his life.
The truth is that any NFL player involved in violent crimes off the field should be banned from ever again putting on an NFL uniform. But that won’t happen, because these players are multi-millionaires and the NFL is a multi-billion dollar enterprise. In fact, many of the perpetrators never get convicted because they are subject to the same impotent rules of the U.S. Justice System as anyone with enough fame and/or money. But the NFL is not a branch of the U.S. government so, whether or not these player actually serve time in prison, they league could still ban them for life.
They never will, though. And so I can’t justify how I watch the NFL on a moral or ethical level. But those were never really the reasons I enjoy watching football anyway. It doesn’t seem appropriate to get into those reasons here, so I’ll get into them in my next blog post.