Sunday, February 3, 2019

The NFL Has Its Day.

I remember when the Super Bowl was played at 2:00 in the afternoon on a Sunday. Some people remember the game when it didn't have a number attached to it. Others don't care at all.

I think I might be moving into that third group.

The National Football League has become what our other national pastime, baseball, never really attempted: to be everything all at once. A sport, an institution, a media empire, a repository for the nation's values, and an unquestioned source of correctness that has come back to cause serious trouble for its credibility. Baseball had a long, lazy season with plenty of games and no time limit. Football has a frenzied limit. George Carlin did a bit on that. Go watch it.

The Super Bowl is now, of course, an informal national holiday with all the trappings and fixin's, and for the past 20 or so years the game has actually been pretty close near the end, as opposed to many of the games in the 80s and 90s that were over before halftime, instilling cold fear into the advertisers who paid exorbitant rates to reach drunk men. Don't worry; we still watched.

But the NFL's real-world problems, which it always had but decided to minimize or ignore, are now morbidly apparent.

Players trying to live day-to-day with the pain from their playing days are addicted to opioids.

CTE ravaging the brains of former players.

Ensuring that all players, not just the Hall of Famers, have health insurance, pensions, and benefits.

I know that unionized, highly paid professional athletes in all sports don't elicit a great deal of sympathy from many Americans who earn less and live a productive, local life, but most athletes have a short professional existence and in the NFL's case, play a brutally violent sport. And you simply can't ignore the visuals that show an extraordinarily wealthy owner elite making billions, collectively, and a collective of players, many of whom are minorities, getting paid well while they play, but being ignored when they're done.

The NFL needs to make a dramatic gesture concerning these players. The league is wealthy enough to afford it and the players have earned it.

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1 comment:

  1. And then there’s also this side of the Super Bowl: