I Used To Like Football

I no longer enjoy football.

As a result, I have had no answer the uncomfortable question:  “Did you see the game?”  but every year found that I had a compounding list of grievances, which has led me to my present walk-away.

Pink Shoes

For eight years the NFL mandated players wear pink cleats and other pink accessories every October for Breast Cancer Awareness month.  In my opinion it was a deliberate marketing move to pander to female viewers and boost ratings and merchandise sales.

Let me know when the girls over in the WNBA wear prostate cancer ribbons.

The sport of gladiators was dismissing its customer base in an attempt to appeal to women.  I’m sure it made sense to the merchandising department; women spend way more money than men.  There was the image problem of men abusing women such as Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens, and the accusations against Ben Rothlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers.  And so, I and millions of other men dealing with prostrate or colon cancer watched the sport we loved ignore us completely to score with women. 

Halftime shows

This complaint really applies to the Super Bowl.  What did Madonna have to do with football?  She, the woman who was, and is, a vocal critic of all things America, was invited to be the entertainment for America’s biggest athletic event.  Has Madonna ever even watched a football game?  The list goes on:  U2, Beyonce’, Prince, etc.  They all make great music, but football fans aren’t looking for them mid-game.  Football fans want a show from performers who are football fans themselves, who understand that football is combat, and the music should be bar-brawl rough. 


I don’t like buffoonery.  When a Black player dances in the end zone, I see the days when black entertainers were relegated to the insulting smiling and shufflin’ tap dancing. I’m okay with impromptu spiking of the ball after a hard fought scoring play, or the big lineman who never touches the ball who gets excited picking up a fumble or interception or scoring.  But the rehearsed routines—I find them silly and unsportsmanlike.


Thugs have taken over the NFL.  Troublemakers.  The players who were in the NFL up until the mid-eighties were not ambassadors of street culture.  But, like most of our society, Hip Hop music and gang influences have permeated if not taken over everything, sports included, and in this case football.  The result is behavior that is embarrassing, low class, and sometimes criminal.  The players now remind me of the hoodlums I grew up with in the South Bronx.  But street culture and gang references are popular, accepted and mainstream, thus very profitable, so the NFL is okay with it. 

Professional sports is accepting and helping legitimize a lifestyle that is destroying communities.  Their kids (management) don’t deal with the hood, so it looks glamorous and fun to them; I grew up in the South Bronx and witnessed the streets firsthand.  It’s horrible.

Free Agency

I enjoyed the dedicated team concept.  What I found amazingly human of professional football was the idea that players were dedicated to one another and the city or state they were representing, chasing victory, the ultimate male pursuit.  I was drawn in by the familiarity of the same 11 guys lining up on either side of the ball to do battle, a committed team.  Even if they had a disappointing season, they would go back to the drawing board, return the next year with only small personnel changes, getting better and better, and figuring out how to win. 

Supporting this tradition of male commitment, teams could limit trades, and legally ‘protect’ 37 of its 45 players on the roster.  Another team offering a player more money would need permission from the first team for the trade to happen.  Thus, there would be changes here and there, but the core lineup would return.  This restricted wholesale personnel changes through free agency.  But some players complained that it limited their freedom to ‘shop’ their talent and opportunities to negotiate larger contracts.

So, the first nail in the coffin came from one of my favorite players, Freeman McNeil.  In 1982, He and the NY Jets didn’t win the AFC championship against the Oakland Raiders, but he won a lawsuit against the NFL which lifted restrictions on free agency.

As a result, player movement between teams dramatically increased every year, and the ‘team’ concept is gone, evidenced since then by some prima donna players (especially receivers, what’s with them?).   Just as quick as you buy your favorite player’s jersey, in less than twelve months he might be on another team, but the merchandise company can sell more shirts, I guess. 

Football culture was, and is, a key component of male culture.  The two are interdependent.  When we allowed free agency in football, we gave permission for free agency to young men, we told them you don’t have to commit to something you’re a part of.  Are the young men around you committed?  To their jobs?  Their wives?  Their nation?  Most young people now are free agents.


Flipping off customers

For brevity, I’ll put the bottom line up front: taking a knee is a big ‘foxtrot uniform charlie kilo you’ to me.  The sport that America built for Americans has been turned into a political weapon, full of political statements and has been poisoned forever by activists.

To allow one of the few bastions that men have left to be politicized is unforgivable.

With all this said, know that I have found more productive things to do with Sundays, and I go to bed at a decent hour on Monday night.  In some ways, I enjoy the seven hours of my life that I have back (New York has two teams, three and a half hours per game).  I no longer waste time watching professional sports because I have no respect for the people playing, and have complete distrust for the league employing them.

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