Saturday, September 20, 2014
I like football. It's not my favorite sport. I much prefer baseball because it is more nuanced in its play, the strategy more evident, the competitive match-ups right out there for all to behold. And, most of all, I like it because you can see the player's eyes.
I never played football, so I don't know what it's like "in the trenches." That's where they say the game is won or lost. It is where men weighing about 300 pounds play smash mouth, pounding each other to the turf, grabbing each other illegally and avoiding a penalty almost every play. It is where vicious, hard-hitting linemen vie against each other, striving to open a hole in the line where the fleet-of-foot back can gracefully dance through and run for daylight. Or it is where those lineman hold off the incoming defenders to give the quarterback time to launch the perfect spiral downfield to the streaking receiver. It can be beautiful or brutal. It can be elegant or awful. And, helmets and masks being what they are, you can rarely see the player's eyes.
We should make no mistake about the current debate over domestic violence and the National
Football League. This is not fundamentally about football and its violent play. It is not about forms of corporal punishment appropriate for disciplining children (although I don't want to hear a single argument defending punishments that leave welts on the backs of four-year old children). It is not about the vastly underreported culture of violence inside the homes of America. It is not about the simmering climate of distrust in our urban centers where teenagers live in fear of those sworn to protect them.
All of these are in the mix, of course, but none of this will be addressed until we look each other in the eyes and start being honest about our violent society.