I pledge allegiance…
When I was a kid, we only had one television in the house. On weekends I always looked forward to watching cartoons. But when it was football season, my dad had reign over the tv set. Impatiently, I would ask when the game would be over. “Another 6 minutes until the final quarter is done.” So I learned at an early age that football minutes were measured in dog years. LOL – so I tried to understand football but it’s such a brutal sport.
Fast forward to young adulthood and the party scene. There was a communal appeal to football – the laughter and high-fives, the adult beverages and the trash talking. And when the home team won, well it was like a day of magic. And yet the sport was still brutal. But this time it was entertainment. And this entertainment brought the good vibes of a fantastical reality where “we” were the team. We won! We defeated the foe!
You know allegiance has to do with loyalty and faithfulness. And in this reality the price for disloyalty seems incredibly high. Except that there has to be a disconnect between this level of faithfulness and truth. When reports of domestic abuse hit the media, the play continued without scathing remarks on game day. Sponsors weren’t threatening to destroy the sport by leaving. Fans weren’t swearing off football forever. No jerseys were burned.
When the science revealed the brutality of the sport resulted in life-threatening brain dysfunction, the play continued without scathing remarks on game day. Even the news about retired players committing suicide and/or those who were destitute or without healthcare couldn’t interrupt the games and the sponsors weren’t unhappy and threatening the pocketbooks of the owners. Fans weren’t defending the warriors who put their bodies on the line for their entertainment. Tailgaters still partied in the lots. Stadiums still sold out. And fans continued to enjoy the magic of being whisked away to a fantasyland of ignorant bliss for four long dog year quarters.
So is the current revolt really about disloyalty and disrespect? Maybe it’s about the injustice of the real world societal norms that have been put in the faces of those who can’t think about those kinds of things on game day. And how ugly would that admission be? How could otherwise rational people actually say that they would rather not think about their own complicity in a racist regime that continues to mistreat those who stood next to them reciting the pledge of allegiance? That would not be fair play. Why else would rational persons threaten to abandon a sport that they have enjoyed all their life?
I call foul.