If peace breaks out in the world, is football history?

The Minnesota Vikings are doing push-ups and getting themselves in shape for another football season and every other sport is being pushed to the sidelines in the newspaper sports sections and certainly the area’s sports radio stations.

Football is king in Minnesota and elsewhere. Good luck to the Minnesota Lynx trying to get a word in edgewise in their playoffs that might bring a third WNBA championship to the market of woebegone franchises.

Why does football rule?

Mark Edmundson, an English professor, has been getting schooled in the game of football and has it pretty well figured out, he thinks.

He acknowledges that football probably couldn’t catch on elsewhere because it’s a sport that is deeply American and reflects our values and likes. And that’s the problem, he writes in the Los Angeles Times.

We love us a good war or two.

The rise of football over baseball is about a change in America’s self-image. We’ve been ready to fight always (ask the Indian tribes or the Spanish who controlled much of the Southwest), but we haven’t been ready to admit it. Now it’s harder to escape the truth.

When people are willing to get publicly enthusiastic about football, they are showing a willingness to get enthusiastic about struggle and strife — maybe even about war, if they feel it is necessary. Granted, almost all games are sublimations of war. But no game is as close to war without slipping over to war as football is.

Aristotle thought that the purpose of a violent spectacle was to purge dangerous feelings from the audience. Tragedy discharged the excess of pity and fear that built up in individuals. They left the theater feeling clean. But Plato says something different. Plato fears that we become what we behold. See violence enacted on a stage and your capacity for violence will increase. To Plato, football would feed a national capacity for violent action and be fed by it in turn.

Football and war could have a mutually energizing relationship, he writes. “The more football, the more war; the more war, the more football.”

  • Gary F

    Not for me. I found out that it is very nice outside on Sunday afternoons in the fall. I found out that you can park really close at Home Depot or Menards on Sunday afternoons in the fall. I found out you can get on all the machines at LA Fitness on Sunday afternoons in the fall. I found out that you can get in without a wait at the trap club or pistol range on Sunday afternoons in the fall. And, it’s better on the waistline.

  • No football fan

    There is something very unseemly about football. The open intent of players to hurt the other side and our support of this as well as the complete lack of proportionality in its use of resources.

    Want to race in the Fall? Put on a pair of shorts and running shoes, rent a van and go to your rival’s town to experience the best that sport offers in courage, fortitude, even spectacle when the gates open and teams appear like herds of running antelope over grassy fields. No intent to harm others, except maybe in ego. No permanent brain damage. No long lasting tax burdens from palatial infrastructure.

    There are many sports like this, yet football, the one we seem to embrace now requires the most expensive equipment and playgrounds of any. Prolly over a trillion dollars locally for our next Twin Cities football payout. And will we ever count the public costs accrued in “Homeland” Police Protections given to these events? Ugh. Let the lawyers loose on this privileged monopoly by accounting for their gladiatorial abuse of brain tissue.