Longtime readers of the News-Press are familiar with the paper’s ongoing aversion to tackle football, ever since incontrovertible evidence of the mass presence of permanent brain damage, known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), in players of the game became known. There is no cure, and there is no way to even properly diagnose the condition except by an examination of brain cells, making it something that can occur only posthumously. News of this condition has been reported very unevenly, with entities such as the National Football League accused of playing it down and even covering it up. A major Hollywood film on the subject produced in 2015, called “Concussion” and starring Will Smith, was a box office flop due to a combination of such pressures and an aversion of too much of the public to face up to this. This week, on the eve of the Superbowl, one cable TV movie channel aired it one time very late at night. At some point in the future, this issue will begin to truly resonate, and everyone who’s played it down to that point will have a lot of explaining to do.
But nothing currently is slowing down the growing, pervasive influence of football in our culture. Worse, even, than the Donald Trump phenomenon, the fixation on football in the U.S. is rendering far too many of our best and brightest permanently brain damaged. Like anti-vaxxers, they insist on their own and others’ “right” to hurt, if not kill, themselves and others. A very similar phenomenon.
Football is bad for other reasons, too, as if any were needed. It is steeped in the damaging, “us-versus-them” brutal world view grounded in a win-or-lose paradigm, which denies by its very nature things such as “win-win,” or mutually beneficial, outcomes. No wonder purveyors of war profiteering favor instilling this paradigm in the nation’s youth, bundling it up with images of “what it means to be a real man,” and so forth. Better to have them run off and get themselves killed on some remote battlefield instilled with this fever! Moreover, the football field is set up like a battlefield, which contributes, too, with mostly female cheerleaders rooting on the action from the sidelines. By contrast, imagine if a concert or play could not be resolved without submitting to such a win-lose paradigm. A lot of the kind of Trumpian anti-truth mentality that continues to gain steam is the direct result of this kind of cultural assault.
So, these are the reasons, and more, this newspaper will stand against any move to use Virginia taxpayer dollars to lure a professional football team to this state. Yes, we are more than willing to take a stand against popular opinion on this subject and crusade as we have against the uncommon brutality that constitutes professional football and its mesmerizing hold on the public. Richmond legislators need to vote “No” on any measure to advance this social menace.