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Friday, May 20, 2011

The Futility of Football

OK, after a short absence for finals week and moving, I am back.
I just watched an episode of Frontline, Football High. It examines high school football in the US, and how it's become more intense in recent years. With this increased intensity, has come more injuries. It also discusses how our understanding of brain injuries has increased in recent years also. Apparently, getting hit on the head repeatedly is not a good idea. But I digress. What strikes me about high school football, and football in general, is how much of an exercise in futility it is. What percentage of high school football players receive any significant benefit from playing? A few may get college scholarships, and even fewer of those end up playing professionally. They seem to get very big egos from being bigger and stronger than everyone else, but what good does that do them? Modern technology has relegated physical strength to, at best, secondary importance. Furthermore, they seem to be blind to the fact that their strength does not make them invincible. To paraphrase a textbook I used this last semester (I can't remember the name of the author offhand): Even the strongest human beings are but frail creatures when compared to the power of machinery, hazardous chemicals, radiation, and other forces of nature. So, do all the steroids you want, they still won't help you survive a nerve gas attack. And forget about jumping in front of trains. Or cluster bombs. There also seems to be an attitude of "I've only got a few years to play football. I've got the rest of my life to worry about the adverse effects. I think I'll have fun while I can." I would be willing to bet, that if you gave a group of such people a lecture on the effects of blister agents (such as mustard gas and lewisite), they would pick up on the fact that the stuff doesn't necessarily kill you, but just gives you nasty burns. If you then left them alone with a cylinder of blister agent, they would then likely start whiffing small amounts of the stuff in some kind of macho dare.

What the above rant leads to is the fact that it is brainpower, not physical strength that sets our species apart from others. Modern material handling equipment, weaponry, and so forth, are the products of brainy people. Not people who run around in the mud bashing into other people. Likewise in history, many things were decided by brainy people working out of view. A good example would be WWII. Many americans like to think that the allies won because their troops fought so valiantly, blah blah blah. Not really. They won partially because they were in a better position strategically, but largely because they saw the value of having brainy people working out of sight (Like in the OSS, or the Manhattan Project).

Moral of the story: Football Culture is a massive delusion.

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