NFL Draft Day Thoughts

[ Originally a tweetstorm. Thread]

American Football became a generation-defining phenomenon in the last 20 or so years. At the professional level, there’s a concentration of prodigies that bring the level of competition up to Olympian standards. It’s not a result of a global stage, either; in the US we see mostly domestic talent in these jobs. Games are higher stakes, higher-level, higher revenue than ever before. Athletic excellence is at an all time high — naturally, so is cultural influence. That influence deserves to be talked about.

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Did you know a lot of sports analysts believe (with cause!) that the main reason our Olympic sprinters/track team underperform globally is because the athletes who would have otherwise been those olympians are in the NFL instead? The fastest men in America all play pro football.

The NFL machine is an American institution crafted for reliably sourcing true athletic greatness. It also relies on the reality + poverty of entire demographic communities to achieve this end. (More to say about this later). Football is our generation’s smoking.

We know it’s bad, but we’re living through the Golden Age of NFL — Football has never been this good, and will never be again. Guys are beyond athletic, technically exceptional, specialized AF. They train from childhood. We’re seeing 24 year olds with 20 years of game play experience.

Part of this is a sobering reality around dreams and expectations — if you see an athlete on tv that looks like you, pays for his family like yours, has status — it’s magnetic. It’s a dream, but also a plan. If no one you know became a doctor, why would this feel less realistic?

Exploitation of bodies — particularly male, young, black bodies — is at the core of pro football in America. It’s the business model. They use/concuss athletes for fake warfare, over years and years, until irreversible damage occurs. Eg CTE, blunt force trauma, mental illness, etc.

It’s not a crime to admire the prowess of these spectacular players. American football genuinely is a strategic, exciting game (if you know context) and it’s fun to watch. But seriously, can we examine what the league sells us? Is the pain & death these guys face after NFL ok? No.

Don’t get me wrong, college football is a super cozy memory for me, and being married to Joe has given me an NFL football appreciation that my New Mexican ass did not anticipate. I love this shit, bc it’s fun, dude. It’s also deeply flawed. Systematically. Hiddenly. An institution of bad intentions.

TL;DR: Can we examine our relationship to NFL football? We can’t fix the moral abscesses in the league as consumers — only the corporation can rectify that. But as Americans, or fans anywhere, what do we tolerate from the NFL and what ends now? What stays?

Not constructive: just acting aloof/othering. Many peeps decry watching sports as being low brow. Why? American Football is a pervasive, culturally unique tradition in this country and this century. It’s strange. It’s social. It’s hugely popular, and it makes parties happen. The NFL is like trick-or-treating in this country; it only takes one season to learn the drill, and we can expect to see it allover the continental US, regardless of region/culture. Even if we don’t participate — like many of us refrain from trick-or-treating every Halloween — we can explain the tradition the way only a native contemporary could. How do we reconcile this with our own feelings about the sport/it’s legacy?