To say that football and I have a tumultuous relationship would be an understatement to say the least.
I'm not going to get into that, but I am going to get into the point of football.
If you press parents enough, I feel like most would feed you some bullshit about learning sportsmanship instead of some post-apocalyptic inter-town blood sport that children participate in.
I heard today that the NFL has officially stated they know that 1 in 3 players will have brain damage of some kind by the time they retire.
I'm not sure that I had ever been so invested in a Super Bowl before. It's just not in me to root so strongly, even for my favorite teams; I've always said that rooting for a team is somewhat akin to rooting for the mercenaries during the Crusades. Your favorite players may be good people and may even have some passing loyalty to the team and your town, as much as any employee of pretty good job does anyway, but what is keeping them there is the paycheck. So no matter how I may get caught up when I see my teams do something awesome, sports in general has always been about watching feats of athleticism more than anything.
In high school I bought into the propaganda hardcore. I believed in the team, sportsmanship, leadership, everything, and when I found out that I was, for all intents and purposes, believing in a lie designed to have children put playing football and winning above their own safety, health, and more, well, it ranks right up there with the all-time greatest betrayals of my life.
And I guess the last few weeks have shown me that I still feel that way to a certain extent. Because I fucking hate cheaters.
And when it's become as systemic and regular as the New England Patriots have exploited, it's a corruption that is the epitome of what football really is about.
The Patriots winning the Super Bowl is a message to children across the country that cheating is OK.
How long have the Patriots been cheating? How many years were they cheating by getting the calls of the other teams before they were caught? How many years have they been playing with underinflated balls? There's a report going around that since 2007 their fumbles dropped to 1 in 74 from 1 in 42, with players coming to their team from other teams having their fumble rates go down as well. In 2006, Brady was one of the players lobbying for the away team to be able to provide their own footballs.
What the fuck is this sport? Is it even a sport or is it just the biggest F.U. to Americans since the White House was burnt down?
The NFL did n-o-t-h-i-n-g and even if their investigation isn't just written off and actually does turn up something, what is going to happen? Some fines for the multi-millionaires and some wrist-slapping in the form of draft picks lost?
I honestly don't care if the Patriots really are the best team in football or not, you can't play a sport and think cheating is OK. Am I the only one that thinks like this? The Patriots are good! Why fucking cheat?
And then I had the thought, why would the NFL do anything to them? They probably realized that their fans wouldn't care enough to not watch the game and people like me that never go out of their way to care about the game would because it gave drama and a story to this blood sport that we are so obsessed with.
When Seattle started to lose near the end and that abominable play calling that resulted in the interception, I about lost my mind.
Here I am, providing more publicity for something I find reprehensible. The Patriots didn't win as much as the NFL did. There's no rivalry between these teams; there's no drama except for the fact that the Patriots are basically the cartoon-villains of the NFL now, and the NFL played this up by not doing anything about this behavior.
I love athletics and I don't have a problem with adults hurting themselves as part of entertainment (although I'm completely against it for children), but this is too bitter of a pill to swallow.
There's not even a whisper of an illusion that football is about sportsmanship. It is, as it always has been, at every level, about winning at all costs. I was foolish to ever believe otherwise and to think that the NFL had any sort of moral baseline.
Am I crazy? Could sports ever become more about playing the game the way it's supposed to instead of winning at all costs? Comment below. Thanks for reading!