As I polish off my forties, I gotta be honest with you, I'm just DONE with a lot of things.
Football is one of them.
I recently sat through a PTO meeting at my kid's middle school, and we talked for some time about how to raise five thousand dollars from a fun run/walk that we have the kids do. We do use the money for actual educational "enrichment"--we invite teachers to ask us for specific tools and resources they can use in the classroom--but still, the event is a lot of work and I'm not sure the kids enjoy it. Then, after we were done fussing about this five grand, our school superintendent came in to give a presentation on the state of the school district.
You know what she had to share? She's really pleased that the district has already raised $1.3 million to refurbish the high school's football stadium, and the district "only has to raise $1.7 million more."
(Yeah, I know. Don't worry. I've already tendered my resignation as PTO secretary and will be done at the end of this school year.)
In all honesty, I've been done with football since I read Scoreboard, Baby: A Story of College Football, Crime, and Complicity. But I've always wanted to read Steve Almond's Against Football: One Fan's Reluctant Manifesto, so last week, I did.
It's a good read. I'll admit I've always had a soft spot for Almond, but I like the way he admits he is a lifelong football fan, and yet still...it's getting harder for him to look at the game. You'll learn a lot of information in this book--about how the NFL is a tax-exempt nonprofit that makes billions of dollars a year, about how athletes are suffering from brain injuries, about how everyone looks away from the violence and racism that run through the sport's many and various levels.
You might also get a laugh. Here's the section where Almond discusses the derogatory emails he got after wrting a New York Times Magazine article questioning the moral complexities of football, most of which included references to his vagina:
"I swear to you, nearly every piece of hate mail I received made reference to my vagina, which was usually characterized as very large.
As the son of two psychoanalysts, I suppose I am obligated to speculate on this odd size fixation. Fine. On one level my correspondents simply wish to convey the exaggerated nature of my femininity (i.e., larger vagina = more feminine). Still, it's hard to ignore that a large vagina suggests an unconscious fear of male inadequacy. Is it possible that merely asking these guys to examine their motives for watching football made them feel small?...
For the record, my vagina is slightly smaller than average." (pp. 98-99).
Yeah, I like Steve Almond a lot. If you're starting to question our nation's maniacal focus on football, you might find this an informative read.