Friday, December 16, 2016

A Football Soapbox

I have had issues with the football mentality for a long time. I grew up in northeast Texas where football was king. I remember vividly when our band was practicing a competition routine at a JV game half time. Apparently, we took a little too long with our routine and the coach sent the team out to the field as we were finishing our routine. The team actually ran through our formation, pummeling a few individual band members. The bell of my french horn came between me and any serious injury. And, of course, nothing was done to the players who basically assaulted us or to the coaches who told them to.

Then there was the quarterback at my junior college in Mississippi who was allowed to start a game on a Saturday night two days after he broke into a gun store in the adjacent town on Thursday night. He never spent any time in jail, but yours truly got into trouble with the Dean of the college for making a few disparaging remarks at the football game (no curse words, just word words criticizing the college for allowing him to play) within earshot of the Dean at that game.

Was it a coincidence that I ended up spending my last two years at a college in Mississippi that didn't even have a football team, just baseball and basketball? And was it a coincidence that I enjoyed that final two years massively? Maybe. Maybe not.

There were many, many episodes that I saw in high school and junior college that left a bad taste in my mouth for football. I was always a baseball gal. I didn't hate football, but I knew that the mentality that I saw from that quarter didn't make me particularly comfortable.

Fast forward to football in 2016. Things haven't really changed that much. There are a ton of great men playing the game, but the lackluster reaction of the powers that be to reining in those who aren't good men, who are in fact evil men, is beyond disappointing. It is unconscionable.

The two latest episodes in college football are the Baylor football program, a supposedly Christian university, covering up and quashing evidence of sexual assault against women; and Joe Mixon, a cretin who felt comfortable delivering a roundhouse knockout punch to a woman likely weighing in at half his girth, being allowed to continue playing for Oklahoma University. These are only two of the latest examples of violence against women being condoned in the name of almighty football.

And that's not all. Those who have looked the other way while so many players have either died or taken their own lives from the effects of CTE are effectively advocating for a game that kills people. I have been so incredibly disturbed by the seeming indifference to those who condone what amounts to bloodlust as sport.

Not all, thankfully, and it is my sincere hope that public opinion is changing in that regard ...

But that seems to be the way that professional sports are tailored. Money is always more important than the players, the fans or anything else. The times when I am most appalled with baseball is when they don't treat their own properly. The MiLB pay situation is abhorrent and embarrassing and makes me very uncomfortable with those in charge. Honestly, it would take very little effort on the part of MLB to make things just a little bit more palatable for the players who don't get the big draft paydays. I would like to see someone do that because it's the right thing to do rather than because they are forced to do so by a lawsuit.

And that's what we should be able to expect from college and professional football when it comes to the treatment of women by players and the health of the players when it comes to CTE ... fix the problems because it's the right thing to do. And get rid of those who don't understand why you should.

And, as a final note, I do realize that the MLB and it's players aren't 100% blameless when it comes to addressing violence against women, but they have made some strides and I hope that they continue to evolve and improve their response to these issues as well.

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