Baseball may officially be America’s national game – but the truth of the matter is that it’s football that really turns us on. It also turns on the books in Las Vegas and elsewhere who make far more money on football than on all other sports combined. Given the fact that the casinos come up with bizarre but fun “teaser cards” each week during both college and the NFL’s seasons, I was a little surprised that I couldn’t place a wager on whether or not there was going to be a Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014.
Since the last Super Bowl we’re averaging more than one player arrest per week with offenses ranging from using illicit substances, DUI , being in possession of unlicensed firearms and most seriously murder. So I began thinking at our current arrest rate, will there be enough players left to field two teams when the next Super Bowl rolls around.
Football is a violent game played by people who are in large part, violent people. And if you examine the backgrounds of many pro players, they come from inner city environments where the only escape is either becoming proficient in a sport and going pro, selling drugs or making it in the entertainment industry.
They are not intellectuals but we push them through our colleges and universities so that our alumni will contribute massive amounts of money to their alma mater. And then we hand them multi-million dollar contracts which would overwhelm even the most stable and balanced person and which wreak havoc with the minds of kids who often didn’t go a full week as children with regular meals on their table.
There is no rational person who would not want to escape a life of poverty and hopelessness – so I don’t lay the blame at the players’ feet. They are doing what they need to do to survive. The fault really lies with us – the fans, the teams, the media and the league as we let loose our blood lust every Sunday and the teams accommodate us by taking our money.
We live our sublimated violent dreams through the players and while we commiserate over a serious injury on the field, it is soon forgotten as we look forward to next week’s battles. Perhaps our greatest concern over these injuries is how it will affect the line for the wagers we anticipate making the next Sunday. There is no better example of the saying, “Give the people what they want” than professional football. Unless it was the gladiators in the Roman Coliseum. No, I take that back.
Yesterday in Brazil, a referee got into a dispute with a fútbol player and fatally stabbed him. Before the player died en route to the hospital, the crowd stoned the referee to death, quartered his body and decapitated him, impaling his head on a wooden stake. I guess by comparison that makes our game almost seem like a lady’s club tea party. That event in Brazil should be disturbing to anyone who claims he or she is a human being.
Is there a solution to the NFL’s woes?
Well, if there is it is certainly not going to come from the fans. It must come from the team owners, the league itself and most importantly from the media that broadcast their games. They are the ones who really fuel the money pots that the NFL teams are filling to overflowing. They are the ones who have the clout to say, “You know, unless you start writing some moral clauses into your contracts and enforce them, we’re going to reduce the amount of money we pay you per season.” But is there an incentive for them to do that – other than being good corporate citizens? Not really. And doing the right thing in today’s America is, for the most part, a relic of a former time.
There will, no doubt be a Super Bowl XLVIII in February next year. By then we will probably see an expansion in the number of arrests of NFL players beyond the current 38. From the league’s standpoint I guess they will consider these “acceptable losses.”
And as for us fans, we will continue to buy and wear the jerseys that proclaim our devotion to this player or that. In fact, they may turn out to be good investments – should Sunday’s hero wind up being incarcerated.
Does anybody have an O. J. Simpson jersey for sale?