Super Bowl Sunday: Are you ready for some motherfuckin’ FOOTBALL!?

7 Feb

It’s upon us, my friends, Super Bowl XLIV (that’s Super Bowl 44 to those of you who can’t read Latin like I can)! I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to this game like people who are into BDSM look forward to Comicon, but not because I give a shit about football. On the contrary, I’m looking forward to it precisely because I hate football, football culture, and the horse it rode in on, and I’ve chosen this most holy of holy football days to let everyone know just how stupid our national religion really is. I’ve invited three of my associates (one of whom is an actual sports writer and doesn’t even hate football!) to chime in with guest posts (a first here at the ‘chine) and will be live-blogging the game itself and the accompanying commercials and “entertainment” with Kendall McK for those of you who can’t be asked to suffer through actually watching it or who are fortunate enough to be outside the broadcast range of CBS.

I’ve written a bit about sports before. I don’t like ‘em. I find sports in general to be boring, irritating, aesthetically and morally offensive, and a complete waste of time, human energy, money, beer, and snack foods. Sporting culture is lousy with misogyny and gynophobia, athletes are usually complete dicks, and sports fans and their behavior almost always elicit eye-rolls from me that are so pronounced as to strain whatever little muscles keep my eyes in my head. That shit hurts, and it happens too often. America is probably the most sports-obsessed country in the world, you know. I mean, I know everyone says that Indians are wacky for cricket, we’ve all seen video of English dudes jumping off of balconies with no pants on because some soccer team did or did not do something awesome, we all know everyone in China follows nearly every sport included in the menu of the Olympic games to an extent that makes even American sports bar patrons snort, “Dorks,” but we’re into sports in a unique way. Our sports are loud, aggressive, commercialized, and crass, and there are fucking tons of them. At any given point in the year there are at least two major sporting leagues in action and several lesser sports to pay attention to. We’ve got the NFL, the NBA, MLB, the NHL, the PGA, the LPGA, UFC, WEC, and so on, but even that shit wasn’t enough and we got arena football, the absolutely hilarious XFL, and who knows how many wrestling, boxing, cagefighting, car racing, and rodeo leagues.  But we’re still looking for more sports to get into, as evidenced by the rapid multiplication of local soccer teams in the US. This is not a positive development (though I’m sure Davetavius would disagree as he thinks soccer is the only sport it’s OK to be into — but anyway, even if soccer does get big here, I’m sure we’ll find a way to make it just as egregious as our other sports).

How, might one ask, did Ms. Deuce end up such a hater of sports? Like any kid in the US, I grew up having to sit through countless NFL games, pay-per-view boxing matches, televised golf events, and the odd basketball or baseball game with a crew of drunken adults. It seemed that not a weekend went by that I wasn’t forced to endure hours and hours of horrifyingly tedious sporting events blaring out of the giant-screened television in one of my relatives’ or parents’ friends’ living rooms, a torture only mitigated in the tiniest of ways by the variety of snacks and soft drinks available (and that depended on whose house we were at — some of those old fuckers had “health problems” and only drank rum and DIET Coke, and Diet Coke fucking sucks when you’ve yet to develop a taste for aspartame). Still, nachos and various dips can only hold one’s attention for so long. At some point I had to turn my attention to what was going on on the television and the reaction it was causing in the people around me. It was NOT cool. I saw grown adults scoot forward in their seats and contort their faces in agony as they held their fists up and urged some asshole with a ball to run really far. I heard adults that I had previously looked up to yell things like “Motherfucker!” or “Son of a BITCH!” while striking innocent inanimate objects because some guy they didn’t know had failed to run really far while carrying a ball in some stadium a thousand miles away. I witnessed the bizarre semi-conversations that occur between preoccupied (or, as preoccupied as one can be while watching something inherently boring) men watching sports punctuated by fist pumping and grunts. And the NFL was by far the leader in inspiring such behavior. People may claim that baseball is America’s pastime, but the NFL is surely America’s number one source of inspiration for behavior that can even be embarrassing in the privacy of one’s own home.

And then there was school. When I was in grade school, I used to hang upside-down from the bars on the playground preparing myself mentally for cherry-drops I would never actually complete and stare off across the field at the boys, who were, without fail, engaged in a game that I did not know the name of and could never figure out the aim of other than knocking people down. That is, until one day when the principal called an assembly in the school auditorium to inform us that “anyone caught playing… um… ahem… uh… ‘smear the queer’” would be suspended from school. These stupid boys who probably had no idea what a “queer” was were playing a game in which the object was just to knock down whichever kid was holding the football, a kid that was, at least for the duration of time during which he held the football, known as “the queer.” By the time I was in sixth grade, I was pretty sure that the cultural stereotypes I had associated with the word “queer” did not include being a big enough badass to invite fifteen other kids to kick one’s ass by holding a ball they all wanted to get out of your hands. Whatever, like I needed more proof that boys were stupid.

By the time I was in junior high, I was already aware that football wasn’t very cool. I went to school in southern California, where people are a little more predisposed to counter-culturalism and a little less prone to sports idolatry than they are in, say, a small town in Texas. There’s other shit to do when you have an ocean, good weather, and a lot of different kinds of people, so football players aren’t treated like the king of town in most places. Still, I was an adolescent, so even though I hated football, I agreed to join the Pop Warner cheerleading team when three of my friends did so in seventh grade. Now, calm down. We were easily the worst team in San Diego County (both the football and cheerleading teams), not one of us paid one second of attention to the games or to the players, and, once we realized it wasn’t going to be like an 80s movie, we hated the whole thing so much that we skipped practice all the time.

Still, I admit that I did it, and that while I did so I did notice that there was something very odd about the gender dynamic of football culture. First, the boys had practice at the exact same time we did, but we wouldn’t have known because we were kept separated and didn’t interact with them at all, even before and after the games, which pissed me off because I was friends with more of them than I was girls on my own team. Second, their coach basically pretended we didn’t exist, despite the fact that his wife was our coach. Third, we were ostensibly expected to lead cheers the contents of which bewildered all of us. I’m 100% positive that not a single one of us knew what was going on at any time during any game, and hence had no clue what we were even chanting about; I might have stood around lackadaisically mouthing the words, “First and ten, let’s do it again, first… and ten” with my teammates, but I had no idea what it meant and no motivation whatsoever to learn. We were supremely passive despite the fact that we were supposed to be “leading” something. Finally, I had no desire to engage in a violent, boring, overly complicated sport myself, but I did realize that, had I wanted to, I probably wouldn’t have been allowed to, and that shit pissed me off. I didn’t sign up for a second year.

The fact that I eschewed making a career for myself as a high school cheerleader probably had more to do with the fact that I started smoking and hanging around kids who listened to punk bands in eighth grade than the fact that I was the world’s foremost adolescent gender theorist, but the fact remains, I was out for good by eighth grade. Then I went to high school, where there was actually a team associated with the school rather than just a Pop Warner team that used the school’s grounds after hours. Still, no one seemed to give a shit. I went to a total of one high school football game in my entire four years of high school, and it was the first game of my freshman year. It was unbelievably unengaging. I’d already been to a thousand high school football games with my parents because their friend’s son was the neighboring town’s star high school quarterback, but I expected this one to be better since I was unsupervised and my peers would be there. Wrong. There was no one there but old people and the kids at school I’d already decided I never wanted to associate with because they were too “mainstream.” I’d already figured out that I didn’t like the kinds of kids who were so unreflective that they decided to spend their weekends pretending to be their parents when their parents exhibited no characteristics whatsoever that made them worthy of emulation.

And, really, school spirit? What in god’s name would give me any reason to identify with an entity as shitty, annoying, and oppressive as my high school? I hated every second that I went there and couldn’t wait to get out. The idea of painting my face or making a spangly, puff paint t-shirt that said “Go ____s!” (yeah right, I’m not giving up the school’s mascot so you can find out where I went to high school) on it was so absurd that I almost considered doing it ironically. I hate to paraphrase myself, so I’ll quote myself:

Think about it, why would anyone be obsequiously loyal to a group of dumbasses they don’t even know just because they play with balls, even if they’re really good at it? Sports teams represent generic and basically valueless entities like cities, high schools, colleges, and meaningless “lifestyle” concepts created by corporate marketing teams, and I’m pretty worried about anyone who gets upset enough to scream while pointing at the ground (the number one way to express extreme anger among sports fans) over their allegiance to any of the above.  But that’s what team sports do, they teach people to develop obsessive loyalties to concepts and entities that any normal human being ought to not give a shit about… American team sports teach young people that idolatry is all good, especially when directed at some violent, narcissistic asshole or team of assholes who represent our culture’s warped, misogynistic, and destructive idea of masculinity, and that unquestioning loyalty to vague and meaningless concepts and authority figures is where it’s at.

I didn’t care about my high school team, I didn’t care about my college team, I certainly don’t give a shit about the team at the university I currently go to, and I couldn’t possibly care less what the Jets or the Giants are up to this season. That shit is for people who can’t wait to work at companies that have annual fun runs and who like to talk about “the troops” with phony reverence.

Back to that bit about masculinity. The NFL might as well be called No Faggots ‘Llowed, because I’m pretty sure that it’s the NFL and the corporations that own it that have created the idealized, normative image of the modern American man as a homophobic, misogynistic, jingoistic, unthoughtful, materialistic, upper middle class middle-management asshole who loves the four B’s: big trucks, brewskis, boobs, and Buffalo wings. NFL fans are a surprisingly homogeneous bunch considering the fact that many of them would be willing to kick someone’s ass for following the wrong team, but then maybe that’s not such a surprise. Football creates a space in which corporations can control and channel the natural violence and aggression that stem from the oppressive culture that modern capitalism creates toward lucrative rather than destructive ends. A guy from DC might kick a guy from Dallas’s ass over a football game, but for every time that happens, 150,000 other people display their pointless loyalty to their team by buying shit.

Male NFL fans really do have a lot in common. Listen to the announcers at the Super Bowl tomorrow and compare their voices to those of the men on the pre- and post-game shows. Compare them again to the voices of the men around you when they discuss the game. Do you notice anything? I call it the NFL accent, and it afflicts men across America. No matter whether the dude in question is from Dallas, Buffalo, Seattle, Denver, or Miami, no matter what regional accent he brings to the discussion, the NFL accent will shine through and affect his diction in ways that will trump whatever local idioms, colloquialisms, and speech patterns he might otherwise display. Check out the outfits on the announcers, fans, and experts. Have a look at their facial expressions, gestures, and general behavior patterns.

But what about the women? This is, after all, a feminist blog, right? Well, check out the women… I mean accessories, and see if you can come up with a schema for describing the way they’re taxonomized in football culture. Are they decorations? Servants? Joke butts? “Team moms”? Surely they aren’t complete humans. I suppose I could get into the misogyny inherent in the culture of the NFL (and sports in general) now, but I think I’ll leave that for when I live-blog the event, the commercials, and the half-time show. You see, I don’t need to bother trying to pull examples out of my small cache of memories of sporting events I’ve had to sit through because I know I’ll be given plenty of examples shortly. I’ll see you at kick-off.

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34 Responses to “Super Bowl Sunday: Are you ready for some motherfuckin’ FOOTBALL!?”

  1. OutsideLookingOver February 7, 2010 at 6:49 AM #

    I stand uncovered at your eloquence, Nine-Deuce. That was about the best discussion with insight into what society has misdirected too much attention and too much money and far too much trust: organised sports.

    If I may add to this with my little offering: society speaks with money. We tell the world about our values with our pocketbooks. Sports figures and film stars get paid … well, I’m not going to insult anyone’s intelligence by belabouring the point, but *this* at a time when the economy is struggling to find foothold and our health system (well, *your* health system… now that I live in Oz, ours isn’t too bad by comparison) is a dilapidated disaster.

    And what do these so-called sports ‘heroes’ have to offer society? Role models?
    According to Lisa Wenzel: “Athletes have been conditioned since childhood that women are less respectful than men are. Boys begin hearing at an early age many verbal comments that reflect negatively on women. They do not want to be told that they are ‘sissies’ or ‘play like girls.’ These negative stereotypes are reinforced by coaches, teammates, and society throughout their lives. Therefore, male athletes tend to lack respect and sensitivity of women.”

    I define a hero as someone who does something truly heroic. Preoccupation with balls does not meet that definition.

  2. Konservo February 7, 2010 at 7:01 AM #

    The sound of the crowd at sporting events always makes me sleepy; it’s monotonous, kinda like the ocean. But the ‘som’bitch’ and ‘motherfucker’ type shit would wake me up and that just makes me cranky.

    As for the game later today, I think that there’s a manufactured controversy surrounding the ‘pro-life ad.’ It’s probably a really lame, sappy 30-second spiel and the NFL, or whoever (CBS?), is allowing intrigue and speculation go unchecked in order to get ratings. I hope that none of your friends, who would not have otherwise watched the game, have been taken in by this ploy.

  3. OutsideLookingOver February 7, 2010 at 7:55 AM #

    This just in:

    “National Football League superstar Michael Vick was in trouble, serious trouble (back in 2007). Federal prosecutors charged the Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback with animal abuse for his role as the alleged leader of a dog-fighting ring and, after denying it for months, Vick pleaded guilty on Monday.

    He was in big trouble with the NFL too, which said he might never play professionally again. According to Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL’s Player Association, ‘the practice of dog-fighting is offensive and completely unacceptable.’

    Does the NFL had the same outrage toward spousal abuse and other forms of domestic violence? No. Not by a long shot.

    Scores of NFL players as well as players from the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball have been convicted of domestic abuse, yet they play on with no fear of losing their careers. Most pay small fines, if that, and are back on the field immediately.

    The message is clear. Beat a woman? Play on. Beat a dog? You’re gone.”

    Need I say more??

  4. isme February 7, 2010 at 8:15 AM #

    “I define a hero as someone who does something truly heroic. Preoccupation with balls does not meet that definition.”

    Oh god yes. Even if you’re not a rapist, even if you don’t cheat or take performance enhancing drugs, even if you’re not a drunken moron, playing sport doesn’t make you a hero.

  5. Imaginary February 7, 2010 at 9:46 AM #

    I do sometime engage in an activity just as satisfying, rewarding, entertaining and constructive to my physical health. It’s called “masturbation”. I like to do it when I’m alone, but I’m open to the concept of playing with others. In addition, I don’t take drugs to improve my performance, and I have never beaten a dog. Where’s my check?

  6. Andrew February 7, 2010 at 6:54 PM #

    Is there a way in which to brand oneself that doesn’t involve buying into some sort of larger, corporate marketing scheme? Even the disgusting freight hoppers and hippies on Haight street that I buy weed from all look the same…and they are supposed to be counter-culture.

    It’s also impossible to believe someone should have a problem with someone doing something incredibly well just because it’s a meaningless activity. Musicians, actors, writers, comedians, all fall under the same banner as athletes in the sense that they are useless entertainers. I don’t understand why I should look up to Prince more than Jerry Rice, but any world in which I didn’t admire either would seem fairly bland.

    Assuming football is really what has everyone so upset (since cheating on your spouse isn’t even tolerated in golf), and primarily because it is a pretty concentrated masculine activity, I can understand why it might be distasteful to some. But masculine and feminine only describe ranges of possible human behavior. I don’t think one is invariably superior to the other. This post would be just as intellectually valid if it where to chide anyone who watches Oprah, enjoyed the Sisterhood of the traveling pants, goes to a book club, and enjoys wine and cheese parties (in the sense that it would completely outline and hold up a set of behaviors for ridicule on the grounds that they were extremely feminine).

    In fact, I would argue that you come dangerously close to buying into the notion of a distinct gender binary, perceived to be in constant struggle with the other, where the one you associate with is good and the other is bad. Sounds a lot like football actually…If I could only find a way to sell radical feminists merchandise I might even start a league.

    • Nine Deuce February 7, 2010 at 6:57 PM #

      Most musicians don’t celebrate violence and jingoistic conformity. Oh, yeah, and most of the bands I listen to don’t use bikini-clad women as decorations.

  7. lefemmeferal February 7, 2010 at 9:05 PM #

    Hey, thanks for another great post! I have a comment to make but it ended up pretty long (and borderline assholish to another commenter) so I went ahead and posted it at my blog instead.

  8. Faith February 7, 2010 at 10:33 PM #

    “Hey, thanks for another great post! I have a comment to make but it ended up pretty long (and borderline assholish to another commenter) so I went ahead and posted it at my blog instead.”

    We’re all pretty assholish towards Andrew, Le Femme Feral. Assholishness tends to beget assholishness.

    I didn’t comment about his assholishness because countering his assholishness – which can be found in every comment he makes – gets rather time consuming.

  9. Jenn February 8, 2010 at 12:28 AM #

    I agree whole-heartedly. Jesus, everyone and their mother has asked me who I’m rooting for. I always say the Saints, but only because I want the Colts to lose (fuck you, self-righteous God-Bag Tebow).

    Also, did you catch that asinine “Wear the Pants” commercial from Dockers? It was basically a very thinly-veiled screed against non-patriarchal compliant men, women, queers, and anyone that doesn’t think that male-dominated society is the bee’s knees.

  10. Michelle February 8, 2010 at 3:43 PM #

    Organized sports suck! I played Futbol (soccer) and basketball in highschool but I didn’t keep playing because I quickly realized the politics were horrible. I made JV freshman year but they bumped me down to freshman because they needed some “good players” – why was a bumped down? Because my parents weren’t on the school board and they weren’t kissing the asses of all the coaches by inviting them for dinner, like many of the girls who made JV and shouldn’t have.
    I have a theory that the reason sports aren’t made coed is because men are SCARED, VERY SCARED to find out that women are just as, if not more, talented in sports. It would destroy their self-esteems to have the “weak” women beating them. They’ll claim that they don’t want to “hurt” women but it’s just a facade.
    Oh and the team spirit bullshit. I hated that. My sophmore year – I refused to wear my team shirt to school – so I ended up not playing a lot of games because of it. So pathetic. Team spirit BS should be optional.

  11. lefemmeferal February 10, 2010 at 1:27 AM #

    Thanks, Faith… I’m still new to the blogosphere as a blogger (I’ve been reading them for a while though) so erred on the side of caution. I’ve been reading his comments and I know his tendency to write pages and pages of scribbled rhetoric only an MRA would be proud of.

    I’m not sure if I’m glad I picked that battle… nah I am. :) It’s given me lots of material to make example of.

  12. lizor February 10, 2010 at 1:59 AM #

    Andrew, I always skip your comments because they are inevitably so asinine, but with time to kill in an airport lounge, I gave this one a shot.

    “Musicians, actors, writers, comedians, all fall under the same banner as athletes in the sense that they are useless entertainers.”

    Christ on a stick, don’t you embarrass yourself?

    Yes Andrew, Literature, Music and Theatre – you know, like Shakespeare, for example, are all “useless entertainment”.

    Go look up “art”, then look up “sport”. That’s A-R-T and S-P-O-R-T. I know they sound a lot alike, but guess what? They are not the same thing!

    And a “brand” by definition IS a marketing scheme.

    Really, you must work very hard at being that obtuse. Or maybe you get some perverse thrill out of being obscenely irritating.

    Now, back to not wasting my time with your drivel.

  13. Andrew February 10, 2010 at 6:28 AM #

    lizor,

    That is the point. If the branding ritual of identification with a football team is particularly asinine, then all such branding rituals are asinine. This is why I think singling out football on these grounds doesn’t really get to the heart of the matter.

    As for the artists comment, the “banner” is “useless entertainers”, professional athletes, as well as all the other professions I mentioned, all fall under it.

    • Nine Deuce February 10, 2010 at 6:33 AM #

      Clearly you didn’t read my post or Davetavius’s. There is a qualitative difference between useless entertainment that is just entertainment and useless entertainment that is actually a nefarious influence.

  14. Andrew February 10, 2010 at 5:41 PM #

    I read both.

    I can appreciate that distinction. Personally though, I would have to draw the line somewhere beyond tackle football. Commercialism and cheerleaders aside…(I saw more women at the party I was at than I saw during the game) I don’t think tackle football is a nefarious influence in and of itself.

    If it is the commercialism and objectification you are worried about, I don’t see why the NFL has been singled out for derision. Honestly, at least with sport I get some athleticism to enjoy between my servings of sexism and clever marketing; as opposed to everything else on television, which seamlessly blends the two.

    I was willing to concede that the hyper-masculinity might be distasteful to some, with the caveat that this is a matter of preference. I don’t think this preference should be indicative of any inherent superiority between masculine and feminine types of behavior though.

    I read your post to say, in part: “Stupid boys, they should be as smart as us girls and drop that masculine shit…” I don’t think this point can be intellectually sound unless what you are really arguing is that the feminine is a higher order of behavior than the masculine. If your argument is, instead, that it is this cultures way of expressing masculinity, and not masculinity itself, that is problematic, I have to ask if one can “re-define” masculinity without simply feminizing it.

    • Nine Deuce February 10, 2010 at 6:29 PM #

      Did you not pick up the part about football being a war metaphor? About it creating jingoism? About the celebration of obedient, controlled violence? About it encouraging blind, obsessive loyalty to authority? Hello?

  15. Nine Deuce February 10, 2010 at 7:41 PM #

    Oh, and obviously you don’t get radical feminism. Of course masculinity AND femininity are the problem, because we don’t need two gender roles arranged in a hierarchy maintained by sexualized violence and political and social repression. Try to get your head around this: football is a bad thing because it’s violent and induces stupidity. That it’s identified with maleness reflects badly on the concept of masculinity, yes, but my response isn’t to say that femininity should replace masculinity as a hegemon, but rather that both should disappear, as should the stupid practices associated with them (football and high heel wearing, to give an example of each, though football causes much greater harm). There are valuable things associated with femininity (caring about people, knowing how to do practical shit to take care of yourself and others, etc.) and with masculinity (I’ll think of something), but only those things associated with maleness are valued because devaluing women’s contributions to the world allows for women’s continued economic and social subjugation. My suggestion is that we do away with these stupid ideas of masculinity and femininity and start judging characteristics based on morality, utility, etc. and THEN decide whether something is worth doing. Football loses, and not because it’s associated with masculinity, but because it’s violent and stupid and utterly useless. It’s a net negative in the arena of social effects, get it? The answer isn’t to “feminize” men or replace masculinity with femininity in the hierarchy, but rather to get rid of constraining gender roles AND the hierarchy so that we can all just be human and display whatever characteristics come comfortably to us.

  16. OutsideLookingOver February 10, 2010 at 9:19 PM #

    The Andrews of the world are destined to cling to their ideals of masculinity because any other view is incredibly threatening to their “divine-right-of-kings status”. This thread and this blog is essentially saying: “the emperor has no clothes”… for now, it is perhaps a lone voice amongst the grunts and growls of testosterone-fueled SuperBowl mania but perhaps as more voices join in of *both* genders one could hope that eventually the pseudo-intellectual babble will succumb to reason.
    Given the power of the media, I’m not holding my breath that it will happen soon, but things can happen at a grass-roots level to topple even these entrenched patriarchies. And this blog is one of them.

    I only wish I was as eloquent as you, Nine-Deuce. You definitely have your finger on the pulse, missing nothing.

  17. Andrew February 10, 2010 at 10:59 PM #

    ND,

    I actually do get it. That was probably one of the best responses I’ve ever had to a question I’ve ever asked. I appreciate it…a lot.

    For me then, the problem becomes whether or not morality, or utility (and presumably justice, equality, and if violence is to be universally repudiated, peace) are necessarily beneficial. I would argue that they are not, since I reject utilitarian morality as a legitimate ethos.

    That isn’t a debate I will have here. Suffice it to say that your logic is irreducibly correct under a theory utilitarian morality. Thanks for answering my question.

    • Nine Deuce February 11, 2010 at 12:42 AM #

      I did not say “utilitarian morality,” I said “utility, morality, etc.” I am not a utilitarian, either morally or politically. Bentham, Mill, and Spencer were pretty good for their time and did alright considering the mental obstacles they faced (chiefly, the inability to conceive of the idea that the ideal world wasn’t one in which women, poor people, and everyone who wasn’t British would all somehow eventually become leisure-class British men like themselves), but there’s another option: a reorientation toward collectivized individual well-being, rather than “the greater good” as defined by an increase in the aggregate “wealth” (and the attendant growing power differentials/hierarchies) produced by the never-ceasing expansion of industrial and post-industrial capitalism. (And by collectivized individual well-being I do not mean anarcho-communism on some kind of global scale, but rather freely-chosen associations on smaller scales that would bring greater good to those involved in those associations than an exploitative system of economic relationships like the ones that characterize the capitalist division of labor, resources, and decision making — think about CSAs for example, or housing co-ops, or credit unions, or employee owned and operated businesses).

      When I said “utility,” I meant, let’s think about whether this activity is useful to the world in any way, or to the individuals who participate in it. On balance, I’d say that the negative effects football brings into the world or into the life of the individual outweigh any of its purported benefits (which are, indeed, few). Morality is a different question. Is football in and of itself immoral? As a physical act, who cares, but as a social one it surely is (and it is always a social act), and regardless of whether the people who play it and watch it know it, it’s also politically charged and hence morally problematic in that sense, promoting jingoism and obedient violence as it does.

      But anyway, if you don’t at least believe in some schmaltzy, inchoate form of utilitarianism, there’s no discussing anything. Philosophical (if we can call it that) libertarianism (or sophomoric ethical nihilism?) is selfish and myopic and indicates that the believer cares so little about others that he can’t be bothered to allow concern for others’ happiness or safety to affect his behavior, so why talk about it other than to repeatedly remind people who don’t need reminding that you don’t give a shit about anyone but yourself?

  18. Andrew February 11, 2010 at 2:27 AM #

    I’ve been working a lot with this idea of a unified theory of post-modern morality (or the corner stone thereof), basically looking for the “golden thread” that is running through a lot of human/civil rights issues.

    By utilitarian morality I meant a morality that concerns itself with allowing freedom of action up until the point that it harms someone else. The meat of these types of analysis always consist of defining the type of harm and act could be responsible for and why it is a harm; just like you did regarding football, violence and jingoism. The boundaries of this type of analysis are so poorly defined, however, that balancing possible harms against each other, and weighing different types of harms is often difficult. This is especially true when people haven’t even committed themselves to a structural framework to begin this analysis under. For example, how could one have a right to an abortion, but not a right to suicide? I think a unified theory of morality could go a long way in resolving these questions.

    In short, I still think your theory is at least valid under many of the balances and interpretations of harms this principle could encompass.

    When I comment on your posts I am aware that we will not agree as to the image that we would like to see society shaped in; or more accurately, if I should feel bound to personally commit to that ethos. That being said, I do like to discuss the cogency of your arguments, and the arguments of others, as they relate to this greater ideal and (as you illustrated above) how radical feminism as a whole fits into this greater ideal as well.

    • Nine Deuce February 11, 2010 at 2:45 AM #

      I don’t think anyone should still be looking for a unified moral theory. It’s passe, isn’t it? But as to the abortion/suicide thing, I have no clue why suicide is illegal. It’s tragic, but if the self-preservation instinct isn’t enough, the law is pointless. I don’t know if I think it’s someone’s “right” to commit suicide, but it’s ridiculous to oppose it on any grounds but a) the incompetence of the individual to make the decision, or b) the harm they will cause others by their actions.

      • Lucas Prassas September 27, 2013 at 12:50 AM #

        OK good article actually (btw, how do you post comments that aren’t replies to other comments? or can you?)

        “Football creates a space in which corporations can control and channel the natural violence and aggression that stem from the oppressive culture that modern capitalism creates toward lucrative rather than destructive ends.”

        I hope you’re not suggesting that football ATTENUATES the more indiscriminate aspects of associated violence??

        also, on the suicide thing… you have no clue? really? i would’ve thought the irrational fear of escapees (that tends to make more of them, IMO) would be a dead giveaway of patriarchal logic behind suicide laws. even though in non-idiot terms, its prerequisite of one to literally NOT FEAR DEATH (at least not nearly as much as almost everyone else) should be an equally dead giveaway who the real “sissies” are in these here type o siturations. also, in the last guest thread comment, you said “Thank Christ.” … if you’re a Christian/any other kind of religious (I haven’t read everything here, so I honestly don’t know if you’ve discussed this), I promise you I will leave and never bother anyone here again, just FYI.

  19. isme February 11, 2010 at 10:03 AM #

    “Football loses, and not because it’s associated with masculinity, but because it’s violent and stupid and utterly useless. It’s a net negative in the arena of social effects, get it?”

    When you say this, do you mean football is inherently that way, or merely how it exists in America is that way?

    • Nine Deuce February 11, 2010 at 6:03 PM #

      It only exists in America in the form I’m talking about. It’s a war simulation here. I suppose it’s also violent in Australia, so same there. It promotes violence and obedience at the same time, and that’s not good. It’s soldier/patriot/loyalistic idiot training.

      • Lucas Prassas September 27, 2013 at 2:38 AM #

        I’ve never been anywhere else, but that seems like a MASSIVE stretch to me, especially since rugby is technically quite a bit more violent than football, AFAIK, no matter how much people like to stereotype all those pansy Brit-neys, (haw haw; ain’t that rite, fellas?).

        • Lucas Prassas September 27, 2013 at 2:44 AM #

          I’ll concede that the laughably affective hyper-masculine ideals and sensationalism is probably much worse here, though, hence its use as an iconic portrayal of all Americans.

  20. OutsideLookingOver February 11, 2010 at 8:32 PM #

    Saw a TV ad last night here in Brisbane, QLD promoting the Reds… started off with presumably team members showing a lot of aggression in their expression ‘enhanced’ by video technique, then finally team supports videoed the same way, showing the same aggressiveness.
    Football is quite different in Australia – the players are quite skimpily clad, for one – but the basic principles of ‘hating’ some other team for nebulous reasons (committed the sin of being from somewhere else) and the whole rest of the football environment is very similar.

    Football players here aren’t heroes either, any more than in the States.

  21. Immir March 14, 2010 at 12:24 PM #

    Haha something I’ve always said to people: I believe that when I am in hell, they will strap me to a chair, tape my eyes open and make me watch Cricket, Golf & Football….

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