Pixel Tracker

Saturday, February 16 , 2019, 1:32 am | Fair 50º

 
 
 
 

Diane Dimond: What Glorifying the Game of Football Says About Us

This question is going to sound like blasphemy to some, but here goes: Why do we glorify the game of football and its players the way we do?

I’m not really an NFL fan, but I watch occasional games with my husband. I can take it or leave it, but I know there are millions of others who live breathe and eat the game. But why?

In the aftermath of yet another round of NFL scandals, I’ve been thinking about what the game of football, and the fallout from its disgraces, really says about us. I wonder what football’s influence has done to generations of America’s boys.

Kids as young as 6 suit up for Pee Wee league games and are taught that winning equals aggression and is rewarded with cheers and praise. Older boys who play football are the idolized the “big men on campus,” their heads often filled with dreams of playing for the pros. If their parents and coaches fail to instill real-life lessons of good character along with the rules and strategies of the game, all the kid may come away with is the idea that violence is acceptable and steroids may be just the thing to help them achieve their dream.

Take the group of high school players in Sayreville, N.J., who became so pumped up on their own self-importance that they viciously set upon freshmen in their darkened locker room and then sexually attacked them. The boys called it hazing. The cops called it felony assault.

Criminal complaints against college football players happen nationwide. They range from public drunkenness to discharge of a firearm and sexual assault. There has been a scandal brewing at Florida State University, where players have been accused of domestic violence, auto theft and rape among other charges. According to The New York Times, “Investigations have stalled, and players have escaped serious consequences.”

Coaches, police and judges frequently look the other way as player transgressions pile up. If and when punishment is meted out it often seems far more lenient than regular folks get.

These kids get the idea that just because they can play a ball game, they get to live life outside the law.

Indeed, the NFL players they watch on nationally televised games each week (now airing on Sunday, Monday and Thursdays) often seem to get away with thumbing their nose at the law.

Since 2000, dozens of NFL players have been arrested for drunken driving, and on at least three occasions people have died as a result.

Pro players have assaulted strangers, their lovers and even their children as seen in the recent case of Minnesota Vikings’ Adrian Peterson, who bloodied his 4-year-old with a wooden switch. Many fans seemed to buy the star running back’s excuse that he had only disciplined the child the way he had been disciplined as a boy. As if that made it OK. Pending felony child abuse charges apparently weren't sobering enough for Peterson. He showed up for a court date and was forced to admit (right before a random drug test) that he had just smoked marijuana.

And everyone who follows the NFL knows that the Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Rice dodged charges after he sucker-punched his then-fiancée, knocking her like a noodle into an unconscious heap. Only after two damning videos surfaced and the public outcry became unbearable did the NFL commissioner indefinitely suspended Rice from the game.

More recently, Joseph Randle of the Dallas Cowboys — a dude who earns $495,000 a year — was arrested for inexplicably shoplifting cologne and a package of underwear. The upshot? After quickly posting a small bond, his spin team cooked up a PR stunt with MeUndies, an underwear company that announced a deal in which the admitted thief would donate $15,000 worth of clothing to needy kids.

Are these players stupid, or do they simply believe there are no consequences?

The game of football can, of course, be a great tool to instill discipline and teamwork in young males. And the majority of NFL players are good and wholesome citizens. But what I worry about is that this billion-dollar-a-year industry has polluted our young males’ idea of what it is to be a man. I worry about the culture of professional football and how it has infused so many of us with the ability to look the other way and shrug when crimes occur.

Like I said, this will be blasphemous to some, but I hope it spurs some deep thought about what the game of football has wrought.

Diane Dimond is the author of Be Careful Who You Love: Inside the Michael Jackson Case. Contact her at [email protected], follow her on Twitter: @DiDimond, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

Talk to Us!

Please take Noozhawk's audience survey to help us understand what you expect — and want — from us. It'll take you just a few minutes. Thank you!

Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.