Tuesday, December 09, 2014

My Guilty Pleasure

A guilty pleasure is something one enjoys and considers pleasurable despite feeling guilt for enjoying it.
Thanks to author Steve Almond, I can say I am one of the millions who have a pleasure we should feel guilty about.

Simply put, it is NFL football.

I am hooked. The adrenaline pumps when the music starts. The great green field with the white lines is a visual stimulus that gets the heart going. I wear the team tie on most game days and make sure the team hat is handy. Sometimes I'm a little more subtle and simply wear the team colors without the logo. Even college football has its exciting place in my life. In all of this I am not alone.

Football has become America's game. Baseball, my #1 favorite sport, has lost its top spot, though it is still the National Game. No one can beat the Boys of Summer. But that's a different guilty pleasure.

Football fits the bill when it comes to feeling guilty. Author Almond, a self-confessed football fan, lists all the reasons in his book, Against Football: One Fan's Reluctant Manifesto. There's the monopoly the NFL has developed. Oh- a tax-exempt monopoly. There's the way the NFL gets cities to give tax breaks and tax money to NFL owners to build new stadiums. On his web page you will find these three questions that pretty much sum it up:
  • What does it mean that our society has transmuted the intuitive physical joys of childhood—run, leap, throw, tackle—into a billion-dollar industry?
  • How did a sport that causes brain damage become the leading signifier of our institutions of higher learning?
  • Does our addiction to football foster a tolerance for violence, greed, racism, and homophobia?
In looking into these issues Almond presents information that indicts the sport's leaders, the team owners, the politicians who fit so nicely into the teams' back pockets, and a nation that has helped make all this possible. That, unfortunately includes me.
Sidenote: This is being written on Monday evening as I am (yes, you already know) watching the Packer game on ESPN. I stop typing when the play gets intense. It is a closer game than I want it to be. My Pack will win, I am sure, but why do they have to make it so difficult for me. Oh, I even used a football picture last Wednesday for one of my Advent devotional pictures. Shame on me.
I have absolutely no idea how to change this without government intervention. Our individual and national addiction to the game(s) will probably keep the NFL (and other football genres) at he top of their "game" and we will truly be the losers. No one of us alone can do it- and it's a tough road ahead of anyone who wants to bring some sanity to any of our professional sports. It may sadly take a major disaster or death before anything is done and any investigations be held.

The recent Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson problems are nothing in the great scheme of the NFL. Hopefully the owners own greed may be tempered before they hurt some people very seriously.

Yes, I will continue to watch. (The Packers won last evening. Of course!) The Super Bowl is on my calendar. I will watch and not just for the commercials (which are, in this context, like the articles in Playboy.) The game is the thing. But I will be aware of the guilty pleasure it has become.

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