When I got married, I converted. Not to a religion but to a team. My husband his family were so crazy about Washington's professional football team, that resistance seemed pointless. I didn't care that much about football at the time, so didn't feel bad about abandoning the New York teams.
You notice I wrote "Washington's professional football team" and not the name of the NFL franchise. That's because the team bears a controversial name that many find derogatory. I'm not using it.
Over the decades of my marriage, I learned the game. And I got to enjoy it. It was thrilling to watch the skill, the speed and the strategy. Team spirit and low-level trash-talk seemed like harmless fun. But now I've had enough. And my problem with football is not just semantics. It's cultural. And it's multi-level.
First, the brain injury problem. Watching the hard hits, hearing the sound of heads smashed together,
seeing players fall - it feels like I'm watching violent porn. I use to think the injuries were okay, because the players would generally get back up and hobble to the sideline. Sometimes they left on a stretcher, which use to mean (this is shameful) - oh good, I can go get a snack, because they need to go to commercial break.
But how can you ignore the retired players with dementia, and the ones who kill themselves in despair? The science isn't inconclusive. It's clear. Concussions mean long-term damage.
Then there's the sexist culture, with the Barbie-doll cheerleaders (who get paid crap, by the way) and the annoying advertisements with roaring trucks and huge cyborgs selling some dated, hyped-up version of masculinity.
Finally, there's the military jingoism. I love my country, but I don't like watching the way football has teamed up with the military - the flyovers, the huge American flags, the reference to "our heroes" and the inevitable video feed from some military base in the desert, where service men and women are watching the game. What's with this marriage?
When did football turn into such a vicious gladiator sport?
Love, A Former Fan