Why We Shouldn't Give Up On Football
Today on “Think,” journalist Gregg Easterbrook told Krys Boyd that football is a celebration of America’s power.
“It’s expensive, it’s loud, it’s overdone. It’s not a coincidence that our national sport is an athletic expression of trying to figure out what our national power is,” he said.
Easterbrook is a former columnist for ESPN.com and author of “The Game’s Not Over: In Defense of Football.”
He says that despite the many problems plaguing the National Football League—domestic abuse scandals, traumatic brain injury —there are many redeeming aspects of the sport itself.
Football fills a military-shaped void.
Football became huge in the last quarter-century, and Easterbrook says that it’s no coincidence that the Cold War ended around this time. According to him, people had mixed feelings about the military after the Vietnam War, and they filled that void with football fanaticism.
“Football is amazingly similar to a military organization, except without the complicated life or death questions,” he said. “The coaches are like generals; the players always say, ‘Yes sir’; the purpose of the game is to seize the opponents’ territory. It’s military in a lot of ways, and it took the role that the military held in a lot of American small towns.”
Football provides a “traditional” space for men to excel.
Women have entered and excelled in many typically male-dominated spheres: higher education, big business and government, to name but a few. And some men don’t like that, Easterbrook says.
“Where can you retreat to that you know women are never going to take over? The only place you can really be sure of is the realm of football.”
It’s an escape for some from harsh reality.
"Football is an artificial universe," Easterbrook says. "You can care about it; you can get emotionally wrapped up in it. But whether the Giants or the Cowboys win a game ultimately doesn’t matter. International affairs, race relations, the economy, those are terrible things… in football, all that ever happens is entertainment, and that’s what’s so great about it."
Listen to "Think" at noon and 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday on KERA 90.1 or stream the show.