SCP welcomes our newest writer, Tommy Neumann. Tommy brings a socially focused approach to much of his writing. Sometimes it’s funny as hell and other times it might be fit for The New Yorker. His first post comes just in time for the Super Bowl. Enjoy.
While the United States is currently engaged in what the noted historian Charles A Beard appropriately calledÂ â€œPerpetual war for perpetual peace,â€ football has become the most popular sport in the country. Since the 1990s, football has surpassed baseball as a spectator sport — and its championship game, the Super Bowl, is watched by half of all homes who own a television. The ratings for the NFL playoffs double that of the World Series and triple those of the NBA Finals.
Post World War II, the American Federation of Scientists have listed nearly two hundred military incursions where our country is the aggressor. As our armed forces attack and invade nations in the name of democracy, tens of millions of people gather around their flat screen televisions to watch grown men play in the dirt. When Walter Camp of Yale convinced the intercollegiate rules committee in 1880 to abandon rugby type continuous play and start individual plays with a center snapping the ball, America forever turned its back on Europe and the rest of the world.
Legendary coach, Vince Lombardi, famously said, â€œWinning is not a sometime thing, its an all time thing. You donâ€™t win once in a while, you donâ€™t do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time. Winning is habitâ€. Another famous Lombardi quote is â€œFootball is like life, it requires perseverance, self denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and a respect for authorityâ€. Lombardi is an icon whose players were devoted to him and whose values and character endeared him to millions of patriotic Americans.
The advocate of peace, Andrew Carnegie,Â strongly disapproved of football. He felt it groomed promising young men for violence and deception. When visiting future President Woodrow Wilson on the campus of Princeton University he observed, â€œI know exactly what Princeton needs and I intend to give it to her. It is a lake. Princeton should have a rowing crew to compete with Harvard, Yale, and Columbia. That will take young menâ€™s minds off footballâ€. Carnegie thought the cooperative effort of rowing was a better model for global relationsâ€. In the past year, Secretary Of Defense Robert Gates mentioned Carnegie seeing football as an obstacle toÂ peace when addressing the Carnegie Endowment for Peace on the topic of global security.
The late, great social critic George Carlin observed â€œBaseball begins in the spring, the season of new life. Football begins in the fall when everythingâ€™s dying. Football has hitting, clipping, spearing, piling on, personal fouls, late hitting, and unnecessary roughness. Baseball has the sacrificeâ€.
A hypothetical extraterrestrial observer could learn and conclude a lot by watching football and its impact on the citizens of the most powerful country on the Earth. Individualism, competition, huddling, tackling, unnecessary roughness, and celebrations in the end zone.
As a young boy you follow the careers of individuals more than you do the teams. You collect and trade sports cards based on the star power of each player and in fantasy sports you take the players with the best individual statistics. The players with the best numbers not necessarily the players on the best team are rewarded with the biggest contracts.
All sports simulate warfare on some kind of level but only in football do you drive and take over enemy territory. A football game involves play calling where your team seizes territory, reaches the opposing end zone and conquers it for a touchdown. You have all your lineman line up like soldiers and face each other on a line.
A quarterback is essentially a field general who controls the pace of the game more than any other player in any sport. He is the most recognizable player on the team and the most scrutinized if a team comes up short of victory. It doesnâ€™t seem to matter to most fans that the success of the quarterback relies heavily on the protection he gets from his offensive line. Most fans criticize or question the manhood of the quarterback who is constantly sacked or not able to have enough time to complete passes. Other than the Head Coach he is the most expendable person on the team when you are losing and akin to having to replace a Commander when a war in another country is not going as intended.
Huddling is a perfect metaphor for American industry and business. Most companies hold strategy meetings which are essential to the success of their business. On Mondays millions of employees huddle around the water cooler at their jobs to excitedly discuss the games they saw the previous day. Success in America is judged by victories and how much money one makes. Most Americans feel like they have no choice but to become part of this military- industrial- corporate complex because the alternative is you are a loser.
Unfortunately, a society based on winning and money seldom generate actions that are duplicated by the rest of the world. With no draft and the most superior Air Force in the world, most Americans view war as an international test of strength. Of course war is no game. Whistles are not blown, there are no timeouts, and those risking their lives do not get paid millions of dollars. The outcome could be disastrous for those who want to play favorites.