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31 August 2017

Hypocrisy Tonight

Tonight, I prepare to be a hypocrite. My Indiana Hoosiers have their season opener on the gridiron, hosting the (2) Ohio State Buckeyes. Even though I have two majors objections to football, I will watch anyway--because I am weak. First, football, as it is currently played under the rules, inarguably causes long-term brain injury. Second, college football disproportionately attracts young men of color with the promise of fame and stardom--a group of people who are structurally thwarted from the conventional means to economic wellbeing--though only a tiny fraction of those who pursue this route will actually become professional. As a sociologist and thinking person, I know these two related facts to be true--and, yet, I will nonetheless watch. I will watch because football is more than just entertainment; it is a connection to something larger than myself, to a group of people scattered by geography and time. Sports generate solidarity for their fans. (Incidentally, sports also generate a great deal of solidarity for the athletes as well. Despite being only a mediocre player, I was on the football team in high school largely because I felt a deep connection to my teammates.) Logic is no match for social forces.

For those of us who know rationally that football needs to change or be abolished, it is not enough to make a call to reason. We also need to offer a cultural substitute, another activity around which fans could rally. Short of that, there will be no change.

In just over a week, I could expand on this post as the NFL season kicks off without Colin Kaepernick. 

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