It’s that time of the year again. There’s a chill in the air, the leaves are changing, I am suddenly craving apples and pumpkin and mr. mraynes spends a good deal of each Saturday watching, reading and discussing football.
I’m not a fan of the game; I have never understood the point and find it excruciatingly boring to watch. On top of that I have a big problem with the celebration of hyper-masculinity that is football. It is stylized warfare with each team trying to march into enemy territory. Think of what football says about gender roles; men should be out front fighting while women cheer them on at the sidelines. And of course those women should be blonde, buxom and in as few clothes as possible. Even the rhetoric reinforces male dominance with terms such as penetrate and score.
I have often provocatively exclaimed that my sons will not be allowed to play football. While I’m mostly kidding about this, the possibility that my sweet little boys may grow up and want to play this sport does worry me. They will most likely be tall and barrel-chested, just like their father, the perfect body type to play football. Besides the very real risk of concussions and future brain damage, I am concerned about the culture that football encourages. Each year we hear about college or professional players getting in trouble with the law. These offenses often turn out to be sexual assault or intimate partner violence. I don’t think its a coincidence that a sport that plays out the worst of patriarchy also influences the men who play or watch the sport to objectify and at times, commit violence against women.
At the same time, I recognize that football provides a way to define yourself, it is a tribal identity of sorts. I didn’t grow up in a home that was even remotely interested in football but when my younger sister grew up and went to school at the University of Oregon, Duck football was a way that my parents could connect with her at a time when they all really needed to feel like they still had something in common. Though I hate to admit it, football brought my family closer together.
So I guess I am apathetic about football. When mr. mraynes watches his BYU football games I try to be supportive and at least feign interest in what’s going on. And I often dress my kids in Oregon Duck paraphernalia and enjoy their excitement at being just like their auntie. But still, I am troubled…
What about you, do you like football? Do you find it a way to connect with your family or community or do you think we should outlaw it for its offensive nature? Is anybody else watching the BYU v. Utah game today?