Another reason to not watch American football

The Super Bowl is being played today. Apart from the fact that football causes serious and permanent brain and other injuries to players, the comic strip Pearls Before Swine provides another reason to not be a fan.


  1. JPS says

    Re: the linked comic….
    A while back the nearby big city got an NBA franchise. The first thing they did was to come up with a name and a logo and produce licensed merchandise, t-shirts and the like.
    Even with no player or coaches to root for, the fans went wild for the merchandise.
    Cheering on the rich owners, indeed!

  2. Rob Grigjanis says

    This applies to any professional sport. Of course it’s silly, but I’ll continue to cheer for Leeds United, the England men’s soccer team, and the Canadian women’s soccer team. Because!

  3. doublereed says

    I don’t know. I think you should be emotionally invested in anything you watch, or else you’re just vegetating. Competitions craft their own stories that we watch for and often that means picking an arbitrary side. It engages you.

    Though I didn’t watch the superbowl. The smash tournament Apex was going on!

  4. John Morales says

    What bugs me most about American Football is the discrepancy between the duration of a match and the duration of time actually spent in play during that match.

    (On TV, the advertisements and rah-rahing and the pontificating prolong the suffering even more)

  5. Mano Singham says


    You might be interested in this earlier post where I discussed a study that showed that football has only about 11 minutes of actual playing time, less than 5% of the total time.

  6. says

    I’ve always remembered Chomsky and Herman calling it “training in irrational jingoism” in Manufacturing Consent:

    This is an oversimplification, but for the eighty percent or whatever they are, the main thing is to divert them. To get them to watch National Football League. And to worry about “Mother With Child With Six Heads,” or whatever you pick up on the supermarket stands and so on. Or look at astrology. Or get involved in fundamentalist stuff or something or other. Just get them away. Get them away from things that matter. And for that it’s important to reduce their capacity to think.

    Take, say, sports — that’s another crucial example of the indoctrination system, in my view. For one thing because it — you know, it offers people something to pay attention to that’s of no importance. [audience laughs] That keeps them from worrying about — [applause] keeps them from worrying about things that matter to their lives that they might have some idea of doing something about. And in fact it’s striking to see the intelligence that’s used by ordinary people in [discussions of] sports [as opposed to political and social issues]. I mean, you listen to radio stations where people call in — they have the most exotic information [more laughter] and understanding about all kind of arcane issues. And the press undoubtedly does a lot with this.

    You know, I remember in high school, already I was pretty old. I suddenly asked myself at one point, why do I care if my high school team wins the football game? [laughter] I mean, I don’t know anybody on the team, you know? [audience roars] I mean, they have nothing to do with me, I mean, why I am cheering for my team? It doesn’t mean any — it doesn’t make sense. But the point is, it does make sense: it’s a way of building up irrational attitudes of submission to authority, and group cohesion behind leadership elements — in fact, it’s training in irrational jingoism. That’s also a feature of competitive sports. I think if you look closely at these things, I think, typically, they do have functions, and that’s why energy is devoted to supporting them and creating a basis for them and advertisers are willing to pay for them and so on. [my emphasis]

    Steve Almond’s recent Against Football discusses the links between professional football and the military, and their shared propaganda.

  7. David W. says

    At least the team I root for, the Green Bay Packers, are publicly owned. But the injuries the players endure have dampened my former enthusiasm for the game.

  8. says

    John Morales, and yet there are still Americans who insist that soccer with all that constant running and playing is the “boring” sport.

    And then there is baseball, the only event I’ve ever attended that I walked out on before it was over because holy crap the drudgery…

  9. says

    American football is a game that I want to see it. Because it is a fun game. The team from the United States is the team that I like best.

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