Football, Violence and the American Way by Lee Vowell

We Americans love our football. And we Americans love our violence. One could assume the reason we love our football is because it is a violent sport and, well…it is ours. No place else in the world truly cares about the sport anywhere close to the way we do. We invented it! And yes, since we are the greatest nation a divine power ever allowed to be on the Earth and we are THE global power – we tell this to ourselves, you know – we will force upon other cities and nations our sport. Hello, London, England, United Kingdom, Europe, the World! Germany! We see you! You people already have our blue jeans, our bloody action films, our music…try our sport as well. We promise. You will love it! And we know, you already have your own violent sports, but they are just so you. Before you even start to trade sports with us, let me tell you why we do not want to really, like long-term, embrace yours.

Hockey: It’s just far too Canadian, eh? Or worse, Russian. And it’s a cold weather sport. We are down here with our warm beaches and suntan oil and bikinis. We don’t like the cold. Sure, we play football in the cooler months, but that only goes to show how tough we are.

Soccer: C’mon. It’s ok for kids. But all we see is people flopping around and crying. Plus, you only use your feet. God gave you hands, too! Just ask your goalie-people. They can catch. Plus, the only violence happens in the stands where the people are watching. No fun!

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Rugby: Here’s what we see with rugby. People from both teams huddling together – I mean, what is that about? – then the ball gets fumbled. Someone picks it up and runs forward and then gets tackled and every time they get tackled they fumble and then someone picks it up and the cycle continues. Plus, even when you score (seriously, five points when someone runs into the end zone?) you have to fumble the ball, but at least you get to choose where you fumble it after you score. And you can move the ball forward by kicking it! And when you try to turn into soccer and throw the ball in from out of bounds, it looks like a celebration because everybody is on everybody else’s shoulders. Makes. No. Sense. Although, the violence part is cool, I have to admit.

I also have to admit, though, that we Americans might have a bit of a problem. But it is not because we love violence. It is because of social media and that we have an instant connection to anything violent that is the problem. We only look like an angry nation to other nations. That is the problem. How other nations see us. Let me take a deep breath here, though. I should let you know that we do not care what you think! We are the best nation ever! So what if our homicide rate as far as gun use is 3.55 people per 100000 people, according to tracking group Gunpolicy.org. There are a lot higher rates in other parts of the Western Hemisphere. Plus, only the bad guys commit crimes. Donald Trump says it is the Mexicans. In the South there is still a bunch of people who think mostly African-Americans commit gun crimes. Look at the racial make-up of prisons. Isn’t that enough? And many of us get upset when we see #BlackLivesMatter. Don’t all lives matter? Sure, we understand that the people that are #AllLivesMatter-ing are mostly European-Americans. Since European-Americans stopped chasing away the natives and importing Africans to this country, things have not been the same. European-Americans are now the newly oppressed, yeah? Some people are losing their identity! European-Americans have always thought black lives matter, somewhat. Sure, if Twitter had been around 150 years ago the tweet from Southern white males may have looked more like, #BlackLivesMatterIfOnly2/3sAsMuch.

Geno-Smith

But I digress. We have come a long way in this great nation. We have now had two African-American quarterbacks win the Super Bowl! And we are importing, I mean, drafting, more African-American quarterbacks into the League every year. But I now wonder if we have truly changed the way we view quarterbacks that aren’t white when it comes to violence. Here is a test. Geno Smith, something of a quarterback with the New Jersey Jets, is African-American. Andy Kaufman Dalton, something of a quarterback with the South Ohio Bengals, is red-headed. Geno was recently sucker-punched in the mouth by a now former teammate. Geno broke his jaw. Andy has not been punched, thankfully. Now imagine both being punched by a teammate. Are you more bothered by the white quarterback getting punched or the black quarterback? Now let me add to this equation the race of the puncher. If an African-American player punches an African-American quarterback, how do you feel? What if the same color player punches a white quarterback? Would a great majority of people be less bothered by a white player punching a black quarterback?

Now, let me take race of out it and ask the question whether off-field violence in football has simply become more accepted by players in general. There seems as if there used to be an era long ago when on-field and off-field protection of a team’s quarterback was priority. Can you imagine someone punching Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, Warren Moon or Doug Williams and not having some kind of team-enforced retribution? I cannot. That a player feels as if he can hit Geno Smith seems to hint at the fact that that culture is disappearing. A fight between two grown men who play football is one thing, but sucker-punching the team’s presumed quarterback is another. We accept that violence is a part of football on the field, but are we now ok with violence off of it? Is accepting off-field violence just a football issue? Worse, is the general acceptance of non-sport related violence part of American culture? Is something wrong with the culture of football? Or is something wrong with us?

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