Anxious love

More celebration of Super Bowl Day by attacking the sacred institution of Murkan Football. Josh Spokes is on a tear on the subject, thanks to people treating football fandom as some sort of marginalized minority identity. Friends are making informative comments on his on-a-tear posts, and I sought and got permission to quote a couple.

Hope Stansfield:

Here’s the thing: I grew up in a rural and impoverished town in the Midwest. Football was a cultural juggernaut. It was a tool the privileged and powerful in that town used to demonstrate and exact their dominance, while also paying lip service to the idea that they weren’t viciously racist and bigoted – after all, if you could play football and not call them out, they’d treat you like a person.

I’m capable of seeing and appreciating the beauty of raw athleticism and tactics. But the culture of football is toxic.

I’m disturbed by the sexism, racism, and homophobia of football culture. I’m also disturbed by the way in which injured players – including those with devastating brain injuries – are discarded like trash.

Mai Dao:

When I was in high school, you were ostracized, and in some cases even bullied if you didn’t support football culture 100%. The jocks and the cheerleaders were notorious for picking on the nerds, the Drama club people, and the rest of us misfits. The only nerdy ones who escaped this bullying were anyone who was into band, because of course they were integral to the games.


Nothing was more effective at allowing boys to terrorize sissies like me as the enforced football games as part of gym. It was a walking HORROR.

I can only imagine. There was a good deal of subtle but real ostracism around sports at my school, and it was a tiny private academic girls’ school. I would have to multiply my experience by 100 to come close to the normal experience at a public high school.

I wonder if some fandom is unconscious appeasement. “Don’t beat me up – I love your game! I’m not a jock, but I love love love your game, I swear it!”

Give me ballet any day.


  1. sandi seattle says

    Ballet is fine but simply not in the same category. Each have their pluses and minuses.

  2. says

    They used to let us out of class to watch football games…

    It wasn’t all bad. Turned out it was pretty easy to slip out a back door, hike through the forest, and get an afternoon off _not_ requiring me to feign any interest in said sport.

    Did get stymied once. Some shop teacher, if memory serves, apparently working out my being near that exit at the time made little sense as a route to showing proper school spirit and all. Spoilsport.

    But generally, it worked. I figure, in retrospect, going to high school in a small town had advantages, disadvantages. The adjacent forest, I guess, I’m filing under ‘advantage’.

  3. iknklast says

    Where I live, they not only bully you if you don’t like football, but they are currently bullying a woman who moved here from somewhere else (Michigan), didn’t care about football, and had no desire to root for Michigan, but now because of the abuse (and yes, it is abuse!) is rooting for her football team hard and strong. Everyone acts like she has done something evil by maintaining a lifetime loyalty to where she grew up instead of being a convert to “our” state team (who will remain unnamed for now). To live and work in this state is to be required to bow down to the dominant football culture.

    The sad part is that they do not think people leaving this state for somewhere else are required to adopt that local football team, but to remain loyal to “our” team. Loyalty for life if you are a “******”; drop the loyalty of any other team, and become a “******” if you move here.

    (The reason I do not name the team is that I am not only personally not a fan but actively loathe them, and it is not safe for me to be seen hating on the team…I kid you not!)

  4. says

    Well, no, true. I do tend to think about the dancers’ feet and joints when I watch it, and flinch. But at least it’s not about body-slams!

    Well, I wouldn’t say ballet or dance or cheerleading are the girls’ equivalent of football, but they have similar problems. (And identical-if-reversed issues regarding size.) At least as a matter of course ballet doesn’t contribute to brain damage.

  5. theobromine says

    First I should state that personally I dislike watching sports – ballgames, Olympics, whatever, and have always been far too clumsy to play any sort of team sport (well there was a stint on the rowing team at university, but I was rather bad at it). I think that the reverence afforded to sports and players is at best ridiculous and at worst harmful. But among the group I hang out with (geeks and atheists and skeptics etc), sports fans are quite in the minority, and even apologetic about their divergence from standard geek culture. So that’s the perspective from which I read the xkcd comic, and I thought it was reasonable at the time. Though now, having examined my Canadian geek privilege, I can see why people found it upsetting if interpreted as a statement that football fans are somehow oppressed or marginalized.


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