That cover shot is the Princeton Football team of 1885.
I used to LOVE football. My high school didn’t have it, and I probably would have have been that good at it. I did dislocate my shoulder playing pickup though once. At college there were two ways to meet ladies, one was to play football and the other was to play guitar.
Thus, my other gig is as a guitar player.
I have eaten the gross weight of a small house in nachos and drank one of the Great Lakes (you pick) in beer watching games in bars. I had a 49er jacket, but my real team is the Bills. But now, I’m out. I still love the game as a game, but in the context of an organized enterprise, I can’t support it anymore
Here is the argument for football. It’s fantastic.
Here is the argument against.
- The violence. And I love boxing. But in boxing, you are committing sanctioned violence on someone who is focused on doing the same thing to you. In football, some of you are totally focused on committing violence on some others of you who are focused on doing something else. I think, and this is just for me, that in simpler times that was a different thing. Life is really, really short, and I think my Sunday afternoons should be spent with my daughter or writing a song rather than watching Aaron Rogers go down.
- The economics. Forget the corruption. Although, don’t. Forget the players’ contract (an apartment rental lease laughs at NFL players’ contracts). Although, don’t. Forget the ratio of gross income to the money spent on medical care and injury prevention. Although, don’t.
- The racism. The Jon Gruden thing. You don’t get to the level of NFL coach and Monday Night commentator and THEN become racist and homophobic. And you aren’t racist and homophobic and that successful unless you are IN an environment that is racist and homophobic.
- Head trauma in teens. We could, and should, pretty much stop right there.
Look, I get the fact that these are grown men making their own decisions (I am a grown man making my own decision). And if that circumstance had no pre-existing conditions, fine. But it does. Statistics around NFL players who never attended college are scarce. In fact, you have to go way farther into Google than I am willing to do to find more than 5 active players who never went to college. And how do you get to play football in college? You excel at it in high school. I have a teenager. I know what a prefrontal cortex does and does not do at that age. One thing it does not do is accurately assess risk (I have not met a teenager who does not have the same risk tolerance as Elon Musk). Now factor in poverty and the dream of a better life – what teenager would not take a shot? At a career that in all likelihood you will never make a living at? Here is the offer: bang your head against other heads for a few years and maybe you get into college so that you can bang your head against other heads for an infinitesmal chance that you can have a career banging your head against other heads.
And we make that path easy!
How does this relate to Ivy? Football was one of the central points of social focus at Ivy League Universities in the day. Schools with some of the best thinkers. And the fashion – the fur coats, the pennants. The coaches. Come on.
But with an opportunity to have an historical perspective, these best thinkers should consider rethinking.