Monday, August 27, 2007

I Never Thought I'd Say This...

... but I think I'm done with professional football. And by professional football I mean both the NFL and Division I NCAA.

Now for some of you reading this (Listing Straight) that means nothing, but to me it is huge. This is coming from someone who only 3 years ago was an NFL Direct Ticket annual subscriber. Later on this week I will post my Super Bowl post to illustrate how monumentous this decision is but for now some reasons why.

It is not just Michael Vick, but Michael Vick is certainly a HUGE straw - haystack really - that broke the camel's back. I mean iw. Iw, iw, iw. And then all of the guys that defended him and are defending him still are NFL guys. People... he has admitted to killing dogs with his bare hands. Hello!

And there is a lot more out there than we hear in the media.

The thing is we ask these guys to play a very nasty, violent sport. Surveys shows that most football fans don't even care that these guys are doing anything they can to get an edge - steroids, speed, etc... - even though we all know what a disaster that stuff is in a long run. Guys are bigger and faster and serious injuries are taking place. The offensive lineman now wear knee braces as part of their regular equipment.

Guys play football and at 40 they can't walk up a flight of stairs... or walk.

I used to argue for football saying that in boxing, the idea is to actually knock a man down. In football, the idea is to get across the goal line but I am afraid more and more to fans the idea of football is to knock the other team's guy out of the game, season - even out of his career.

Really I have been thinking more and more about how I don't want The Boy to play football. And how can I expect him not to want to be involved in a sport if we watch hours and hours of it at home?

I do love the game and so we may go to the local Division III team's games because that is an all together different atmosphere. And it is a lot better to spend a Saturday afternoon at a game than inside watching games for hours.

Now if someone offers me a ticket and a tailgate at a State game, will I go - absolutely!
Will I watch the Super Bowl - you had better believe it!
If my favorite pro team does well this year will I be tempted to tune in? We'll see.

But I think my football obsession is done.


Identity Mixed said...

In shock. Can you come over here and pick my jaw up?

Songbird said...

Good choice, under the circumstances.

Quotidian Grace said...

I sure saw a lot of crippled ex-NFL players at Canton when we went to the Hall of Fame induction recently. And there was a lot of talk from those in professional football about the consequences of playing. You are so right.

PPB said...

Wow. This is huge for you.
You know, I LOVE watching D3 sports. Give me a good D3 basketball game any day. I just don't watch sports on TV.

reverendmother said...

Wow! This is really something.

This reminds me of my brother's recent lament about baseball. Things are just crazy all over. It's sad that diehard fans are getting turned off right and left.

Sue said...

I'm with you on this one. I just can't get into it anymore. Ditto for baseball. It's all so messed up.

I'm sticking with NASCAR and curling. Odd combination perhaps, but it's working for me.

sherry said...

I have to disagree, at least some.

There is Nothing and I mean Nothing like what Saints football has done for the morale down here in Katrina land. I cried my eyes out when Bono sang "The Saints are Coming". (in fact, I am crying now at the memory)

The way it feels to be in the Superdome now, after all that place came to represent, and yell myself hoarse at a game is indescribable.

And we have years and years of good memories, even with a terrible team. My parents have/had season tickets for so many years that now their seats are 17 rows up from the field....when my Dad was undergoing chemo, he went to games with a mask on. The people who sit next to them sent sympathy cards when he died. They help my mother up and down the stairs now that her hips and knees are shot.

Professional football can and does uplift this city. We have something to rally around. Something normal.

Listing Straight said...

I may not fully understand, but I do know that, for you, this is HUGE.

Rev Kim said...

I once heard John Madden say that if a person played only one down of pro football, that person's body would *never* be the same.

I tuned in enough to the game tonight to hear a bunch of people talking about how "brave" Vick was, including Dan Reeves (in whom I'm really disappointed) who said that it took a real man to stand up and say what Vick did. Huh? Did it take a real man to kill innocent dogs? I wish I was sure that Vick was sincere about his apology, instead of his lawyers finally convincing him that he is very possibly going to prison and will never play football again, so he better be as contrite and humble as possible to make it look good for the judge.

will smama said...

Thank you Sherry. THAT is what sports are supposed to be about.

I guess for me the fun and grandeur and yes, even good, of the teams and the sport are being outrun by the publicized negative actions of individuals who by the grace of God have been given the abilities to play those sports at the highest levels.

Sports can absolutely be a religious experience, I wrote a paper about it once. I actually still get chills when I think of post-9/11 and President Bush throwing a perfect strike in Yankee Stadium while the majority of the nation watched.

The NY GIANTS' (my team) parking lot is also used as a commuter car pool lot into NYC and after 9/11 when some of those cars were never picked up the team tracked down the families and did all kinds of things for them.

I guess I have just had it with the strip clubs, the lack of accountability (sure we'll give you another chance and a few more millions) and the macho mentality that says our buddy deserves to be forgiven by society as long as he doesn't rat out other players and manages to mumble into a microphone and read a letter his lawyer wrote... well, as long as he can run a ridiculous time in the 40 and can throw the ball 80 yards.

And then there's the money. Does anything represent our culture's skewed values more than the money we pay men who cannot complete a sentence? Although, of course, they need it to support their 5 children by 4 women.

Yeah, I'm done. Division III and minor leagues for me.

reverendmother said...

That was a righteous rant, will.

With all due respect to sherry's comment, which was also good.

Mary Beth said...

I never liked it. Despite the fact that I went to it for 3 years in college. So I don't feel the loss, but sorry for yours; and I totally agree.


Auntie Knickers said...

I have never been a football fan, but I really liked the book FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. Then there was the movie, and that was good too, but I think it was the most violent movie I've ever seen (and I watch things like Sharpe Napoleonic wars, Master and Commander, etc. with nothing but an occasional eyes-closed) -- but the sound of those high school kids' bodies slamming into each other -- eek!

Rev Scott said...

I played football through high school and only stopped when my body wouldn't keep up with my dreams of playing for Nebraska (apparently there's not much need for 5'11" 220lb linemen). But I was in Lincoln when Lawrence Phillips was arrested for beating up his girlfriend and the whole saga that followed. Like a lot of things in life and ministry, it gets messy because there are real people involved.

The thing I always have to remember is that for every Vick, there are at least two or three guys like Warrick Dunn (strong Christian, recently bought a house for a homeless person) who never get the accolades they deserve. I'm with you on much of this, WS - it's hard to remain faithful when so much is not what it should be. But I'm hopeful that the new commissioner will continue to rebuild the accountability of the league - I think he's on the right track.

As to your kid playing, I certainly can't tell you what to do or how to feel. But I can say that there were far more positives than negatives for me in playing football. Teamwork, loyalty, perseverence, and joy were the things I remember best.

will smama said...

rev scott - that was really well said, thank you.

St. Inuksuk said...

Never been much into football. Don't even get why non alumni put up flags of Big Nut U and dress in Big Nut U clothing when they never attended the U.
Vick only gave an apology - much too late - because he's sorry he was caught and sorry he's going to prison ( and sorry he might lose his house, and all the money he was counting on). There was remorse for the dogs.
I hope he doesn't ever play NFL football again. Like it or not, any sports figure is a role model for kids.
And how sickening the blood sport of dog fighting is. What team, what sponsor would want that linked to them.
However, I pray that this all might change his life for the better.

St. Inuksuk said...

I meant Vick had NO remorse for the dogs. Sorry.

Reverend Dona Quixote said...

I heard a commentary on NPR's "Talk of the nation" yesterday in which one of the commentators made the point that the media is being somewhat one-sided in its coverage of the sports scene. That means we get tons of airtime about Vick and other sports figures who do these heinous things, but we don't hear about so many of the instances that others have posted in their comments. It's an unfortunate reality that bad news and scandal sell newspapers and TV ads.

At the same time, the emphasis we place upon professional sports in this society is ridiculous --and it starts early. I can still remember how I felt when my high school senior english teacher [this was a honors, college level course] told me that the star basketball player in her remedial english class got a full scholarship to a big name school ... I was second in my graduating class of 350 people, a member of the international honors society, voted outstanding English student, and I received a very limited scholarship in comparison.

hip2B said...

NFL must stand for National Felons League. But wouldn't it be cool if one city said they'd only have fine upstanding athletes on their team! I'd support them...and I think a lot of like-minded folks would. But are we a large enough share of the money?

mompriest said...

Ah, yeah, it was giving birth to a son, and then watching all the cultural hype that caused me to think about a lot of things: when is war really vital? when is football really important? (Ok I like to watch my team in the Superbowl, like, not LOVE, but I don't want my kid playing it). So, now he is 15 and a sports nerd and a computer no sports for him (double sigh)...but I think he likes photography, programming, and music, so that's something....


It's a brutal world out there whether you are a girl or a boy. And we need all the help we can get.