Thursday, April 5, 2012


Coo Coo Katchoo!
IAN: I’m just going to come out and say it: the only reason Gregg Williams, Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints got punished is because they got caught. The bad P.R. of the bounty system had to be countered with the "good P.R" of fines and suspensions. Football is a game in which rich athletes (2012 league minimum Rookie Base Salary is $390,000, higher for veterans depending on experience) intentionally inflict pain and injury on other rich athletes in order to increase their odds to win games, and we enjoy it. It galls me to hear people talk like this is some kind of shocking, new phenomenon.

The problem is twofold. On the one hand, the league's front office is reluctant to own the level of violence in the game, lest they upset corporate sponsors or tarnish the image of the NFL as a family-friendly enterprise. Even though it’s right in front of our faces year after year. On the other hand, we have a multitude of fans who simply do not want to admit that they enjoy watching bloodsport. Given the rise in popularity of MMA cage fighting, this really doesn’t make any sense, unless you factor in the idea that most people like to moralize and rationalize ways to feel like they are better than others. That’s why people say things like “I don’t watch the games for the hits.” It’s bullshit, but it makes them feel superior to people who cheer when a guy gets de-cleated in the open field. It’s their way of saying I’m more civilized than that, man. I’m above all that nonsense.

But you’re not above it. No fan is. There are many reasons to love NFL football, but you cannot maintain fandom without loving the violence. You have to understand and accept that these men sacrifice their bodies in order to play a game they love and earn huge amounts of money in a short frame of time. You have to realize that every player on the field is acutely aware that they are more likely to die young or suffer from degenerative illness as a result of their occupation. You have to recognize the utility of the violence: a man playing hurt will play hesitantly, and a man who cannot continue will be replaced by a less-skilled backup. Big hits that cause injury do not win games, but they do improve odds. And now Commissioner Goodell is up in arms because Gregg Williams encouraged his players, in some specific detail and with the prospect of monetary gain, to make certain opposing players the targets of big hits. So fucking what? Do you really believe that defensive players aren’t going for killshots unless there are bounties involved?

If you like to watch NFL football, then it can be assumed that you like many things: strategy, strength, speed, incredible feats of athleticism, ritual, jargon, risk and suspense. But guess what? You also like the big hits. You like the blood and broken bones. You like the sound of the world’s greatest athletes violently colliding at high speed. And if you won’t admit that, then stop watching.

LAUREN: Why are we talking about football in April? I watch football because I like seeing men in tight pants. I don't watch it for the hits, or not for the hits. I am totally indifferent to the violence in the game. As I have stated before, I would prefer if there was a beauty competition as part of the football game, for all of the people watching the game for the same reasons I am.