Are You Ready For Some Football

Posted by on September 17, 2011 in Family, Gender roles, ritual, women | 12 comments

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?

 

 

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12 Comments

  1. I have just entered life with football. I married a college football player 19 years ago who never watches football on TV so my football watching went down when I married him. But now our son is in 6th grade and he is playing football and my husband is coaching many hours a week.
    I am happy for them to share this experience. I’m pretty sure my son will not be a star like his father, but for the next two years it is something they can do together and bond over. It is teaching him to work. He is going to practice enough that the exercise now isn’t too tough for him.
    I am happy for my husband that a sport that was so much a part of him (for years everyone who met him always asked if he played football) but he could never, ever play again (all he did was push people, he never touched the football so he couldn’t ever play his sport again) but now he can be a part of it by coaching.
    I am making sure that my husband spends time with our girls when he is home so they don’t get lost in the shuffle.
    I’m actually the one who signed our son up and told my husband it was time to do it. I didn’t want to miss the window of opportunity for this. If you leave things too late you can miss the window. With a little bit of help our son can play, but he isn’t the popular athletic type so he soon might have been firmly entrenched in his identity as a kid who likes math, history and geography but not interested in sports.
    My older son and daughter are at an age where spending time with a dad who loves them and is interested in them is crucial. I want to facilitate that. My husband more goes with the flow, but I take time to deliberately look for ways to parent my children. My husband is a football player even though he hasn’t done it in 20 years, so that’s one of the ways he can teach his son about life and how to become an adult. I wouldn’t have minded if they could have bonded over chess, but football is it. Luckily there is also history, camping, fishing, etc. It isn’t just football.

  2. I love football, so I guess I can’t relate. But if you possibly want to feel better about it (esp since your family members enjoy it and sons may want to play it someday), I’d suggest try watching “Friday Night Lights” the TV show. It’ll make you teary eyed and feel a little better about football, I guarantee it. :)

  3. Philadelphia is E-A-G-l-E-S country. In general, Philadelphia is a huge sports town, indeed it looks like the Phillies might once again go all the way again. And that’s not a bad thing. I remember watching Cole Hamel pitch the last three innings of baseball and I have to tell you that was the most exciting thing to watch. I got goose bumps watching the intensity. And then there was the aftermath. The second, Hamel made the last pitch, Everyone and I do mean Everyone in my South Philadelphia neighborhood, flooded out of their houses and into the street. The amount of goodwill is evident and clear and then there was the fantastic parade and all the fun and Yes I attended.

    Philadelphia is also E-A-G-L-E-S country. The South Philadelphia branch where I attended had a few players in attendance. And when I changed my records I attended the same ward as Andy Reid. Still I am not a fan. You guessed it, I am not a fan of the quarterback Michael Vick. Yes, you can argue the man has paid his debt and was sentenced and served his time. He should be free to pursue whatever career he wants to. This is all true. But, if I were a mother , I would not want this man influencing my young son. This man has indeed paid his debt to society by serving his time, but, the last interview with GQ magazine has led me to believe that he still does not hold himself accountable and that is troublesome. I don’t remember the exact quote but it went along the line like this,” I lived in an urban environment and as such had to learn how to adapt,” he made this his reason to justify his dog fighting. And this makes me seethe with anger.
    When Michael Vick committed this crime he lived in Mulch-million dollar house and had the benefit of a Pack 10 education. And he’s really going to justify the violence he perpetrated on innocent dogs on class and race.

    I am angry with this, and so should the rest of you. I grew up in Foster Care, You really don’t get much more poor than that. I never needed anyone to tell me it wasn’t okay to take a innocent dog( who hasn’t done anything except to loose you a few dollars) out back water him down and then electrocute him(this is part of the court record)

    I am very sensitive to this, as I stated I was raised in foster Care taken away from my parents for abuse and neglect, the difference between me and a dog is, I can at any given time tell anyone how much, or how little I want to tell, My dog who I recently adopted and who also coincidentally abused and neglected can not tell me what happened to him. I can only guess and surmise by his reactions and train him appropriately.

    I’m sorry this is long winded, but, No, I will not watch football particularly EAGLES football. It has nothing to do with the natural violence of game.( I believe that to be a byproduct ) it has more to do with the fact that as you say half these people get arrested. These men are pushed on our children as if they are heros, when if fact the real heros are the mothers and father who are there for their children everyday helping to guide. The real hero is the mothers and fathers who are intuitive enough to recognize that there are more ways to bond than just over sports.

  4. I’ve never been that interested in sports. I can’t even make myself care in the slightest. As such, I’m usually surprised when a sports season starts or ends and everyone is excited about it. “Is it that time again?” I ask myself.

    That said, I do see how sports is a tribal bonding point of commonality for many people, more especially men but also women and children. As a non-sports fan I often find myself an outsider when a group’s favorite sports season is starting, ending, or doing something of particular interest.

    As a man, I find that this lack of sports interest is a pretty deep wedge between myself and the majority of other men in the area I live in since they are soooooo strongly sports minded they could give an entire EQ lesson completely couched in sports metaphor and I’d be the only one left out.

  5. I have highly mixed feelings about football. On one hand, I firmly agree that it perpetuate gender stereotypes in the worst way and I hate how much people talk about it during sports seasons because it’s just so utterly boring.

    On the other hand, I think it does great things for high school kids. I’ve seen many kids keep their grades up and study hard because they loved the sport so much. I was in marching band in high school and for a year in college and it really unites a school group. In high school especially, football games are such a spectacle. It’s an entirely different experience depending on whether you’re playing or in the band or a cheerleader or a parent watching or a high schooler looking to flirt, yet you’re all united in a way.

    I guess you could sum up by saying I like the atmosphere of going to the game, but watching it on TV is utterly uninteresting for me. I also worked filming games at my college for a year and I just scrutinize the camera shots anyway. Luckily, my husband is like me. He’ll like going to a live game, but thinks it’s boring on TV. He’s told me a few times he wishes he were more interested so that he could have something to talk about with other guys. I’m glad he’s the way he is because I have a difficult time with sports talk.

  6. Did you know that there is a women’s tackle football league? If you’re in Utah, you might go check out our team, the Utah Blitz. Also at least a few high school football teams sport female kickers.

    I think the most dangerous thing would be to dislike something because it is too masculine or feminine. We should embrace that some things are masculine, some things are feminine, and all are welcome to participate in various ways. No one is forcing anyone to fawn over football or worship at their almighty feet (which would be a rather stinky act, I imagine), but showing disdain for masculinity is matriarchy, not feminism. Plus, in my high school days I saw plenty of guys at the Girl’s basketball games, and in college at the women’s gymnastics meets. Title IX has done a good job of making sure that what goes around comes around (in a good way!)

    Moreover, I have never seen any sort of study or major association between people who play football in high school being higher perpetrators of domestic violence. In fact, I think sports is an outlet for men AND women, and teaches people discipline and self control. I didn’t know many football players in high school, but I did know some football players in college, and I can tell you they were some of the most outstanding gentleman I ever met. (plus, Drew Brees? easily one of the best role models a kid could ask for, if you ask me.-volunteered during Katrina, recently put out an anti-bullying ad, etc.)

    There are issues of domestic violence in the NFL, and it is unacceptable and inexcusable, but I think that has a lot less to do with what’s going on on the field, and a lot more to do with other complicated factors that go beyond a blog comment!

    And now I’m off the catch “the big game”. Go Utes!

  7. There has been a huge amount of research in masculinity studies in regard to the hunt-war- sport, even in the sporting nature of war; in consideration of this, I personally can’t think that the rivalry between BYU and Utah is anything more than a delusional, anticipated war between OthodoxMormon vs. Unorthodox-not-entirely-Mormon. So, from a masculinity perspective, I think it is ridiculous. On the flip side, I dislike the prideful, bullying atmosphere that seems to emanate from BYU, especially from sports minded individuals (IMHO), so I suppose I always prefer them to lose.

    However, I enjoy watching ballroom dancing, cirque de soleil and even rugby… but within reason. I love seeing people who work hard at becoming athletes and celebrating and challenging themselves and each other in that realm. It is when that realm enters into dominance (the kill/the win) rather than refinement (we can improve) that I remove myself. I guess the question for me is what I consider refinement—is it actually sexist? Or ogling? I think of the youtube of Sonny Bill Williams changing his ripped rugby shirt… his physique is just amazing. Even my husband cheered the shirt change because it takes one heck of an athlete to gain a physique like that… yet news reports say that mostly women were cheering him as a sex object. Eew. Not my thing. But yet, am I being sexist in appreciating a good physique? Keep in mind, the woman who changed his shirt is the team doctor. And I kinda love that at least one doctor of the All-Blacks rugby team is a woman, so it made me love the whole thing even more. Not enough to bid on the ripped shirt, however.

  8. I LOVE football – especially BYU football. I grew up in the south where football reigns and was in the band, so I went to just about every football game our HS team played. Plus, we went to some university games – we got in free because my dad was a prof. We now live in SEC country where nothing is scheduled for Saturdays (no kid soccer, no school activities, nothing) because everyone is watching football. I was a freshman at BYU the year they won the national championship and a high school friend played in the first home game of the season on Baylor’s team. I learned the fight song and cheered for my classmate at the first game and the only home games I missed after that for the eight years I lived in Utah were the ones in ’85 that I wasn’t able to get tickets for because demand was so great. We have traveled to the majority of games BYU has played in the south in the time since I graduated – including the opener against Ole Miss this year.

    Having said that, however, I would never want my son to play football. He’s not the type, so I have no worries. My dad always said my brothers could be the kicker because it was against the rules to tackle them.

    I played intramural women’s flag football with my MBA colleagues and loved it. The guys in our program coached us and it was a lot of fun.

  9. I’ve never liked football. The only time it’s remotely interesting is if something…interesting…happens. Like the guy with the ball doing a flip over three guys to get into the endzone. Then I have to admit that that particular moment is pretty cool. But those moments, in my experience, are few and far between. And I hate how often they stop the clock so the games last FOREVER. ugh. I wish we were normal like the rest of the world and spent all our time caring about real football (soccer). :)

    I had to attend football games in high school because I was in the marching band. Paying that price was worth it because I enjoyed the MB competitions. But marching in the cold in college when your only purpose is to be a pep band? No competitions or anything? They don’t even show your half-time show on tv? No way. It didn’t make me feel any special bond to anyone being at a game. But I’ve never been a big school spirit type of person, so maybe that’s why.

    Thankfully my husband isn’t too excited about it either. He was a fair weather fan for BYU when we were there and now that we live in a city with a usually terrible football team, I don’t have to worry about any time being spent on that. And there’s no way our son will have the build to be a football player. I’d much rather he did soccer or basketball or track or pretty much anything else.

  10. As I learned more about football, I realized it has far less to do with war and the opponent and much more about working together as a team for a common goal. Every team member has a different role. It is an excellent example of Paul’s metaphor of how the church is like a body!

    The more I learned, the more I realized how women are at a disadvantage in business because they rarely have such an opportunity to work cooperatively as a team to achieve a common goal, to utterly depend on another to do their job, which is completely different from your own, in order to be successful together.

    And that’s why I believe in Title IX. Soccer might be the next best substitute for learning teamwork….

  11. Boise has lost very few games in the past few years, and it’s always fun to cheer a winning team. But, during this time, I’ve learned to appreciate, as Kristin just described, a well-oiled machine. Comparing watching the Broncos play to the fiasco between BYU/UT…..talk about contrast!
    To answer your question, I never really understood football. But, after having watched Boise State over the past 10 years, I have learned the game, and actually can understand some of the rules now and it makes it way more fun to watch. :) I still think it’s sort of dumb, the amount of time people spend, and the money they spend, though.

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