Friday, September 26, 2014


I played football in high school and followed it for many years on TV thereafter but gave it up in the 1980s when it seemed to become more about corporate profits than sports and also started to become more brutal. When I played smashing your head directly into another player's head was considered a bad move, not because you could get a concussion, because the newer helmets supposedly prevented that, but because it was a move that could too easily be avoided and/or might miss stopping the other player. You were supposed to use your arms and shoulders for tackling and blocking and etc...

I've been the same weight since I was fifteen, between 145 and 150, but there was a brief period in my Hollywood years when someone convinced me I'd get more work as an actor if I beefed up and got muscular so I worked with a trainer five days a week, a combination of aerobics and weights and ate a body builder's diet (a pile of pancakes with eight scrambled egg yolks and a half a chicken was the breakfast) and as a result put on fifteen pounds of pure muscle.

I hated the way it made me feel, my upper arms seemed too tight against my torso etc., but the women seemed to like it. It didn't lead to what was predicted and I eventually injured myself when the weights got too heavy and went back to my old style not worrying about it and back to my natural weight (doctors would always tell me, as they have my two sons over the course of our lives, that we're underweight until I say I've been this weight since I was fifteen as my boys have also been very slim but toned and strong, ant men I call us, and then the docs would say, never mind).

The reason I bring this up is because the trainer, an Eastern European body builder who claimed to have worked for the CIA, would warn me after every session that the workout had increased my testosterone so I should be careful when I left the gym because if someone bumped into me accidentally I might overreact.

Point being, the violence in football, particularly in the NFL, that I noticed began increasing in the '80s and has grown, like the players, to unheard of proportions, which is obviously encouraged and promoted and even enhanced with drugs etc. also produces men whose testosterone is out of control so that they overreact to the slightest provocation, like a woman giving them a problem or even striking them, a la Ray Rice.

But like too many cops in this country—as so many Internet videos and photos show—instead of being trained to recognize the potential for violent outbursts as a result of their physical training, these football players have been instead too often protected from their overreactions by corporate NFL money and power, until the Ray Rice scandal.

My friend RJ Eskow has a great column that connects all that to the ridiculousness of the NFL being a "non profit" corporate entity that doesn't have to pay taxes and in which the economic inequality between the bosses and workers is more extreme than in the rest of the economy. Check his post out here.

As for football the way it's run and played now, especially in the NFL, somewhere in the future people will look back, hopefully, and wonder what the feck "Americans" were thinking, or else just figure like the Roman Empire and its gladiators, we weren't thinking but instead were being distracted while the rulers took all the money and power until the empire collapsed on itself...

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