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.”