As recompense for the dark decent into the misery of winter, God grants us football. Americans have been waiting for football season anxiously, as can be seen by the record ratings for the season opener, when the Green Bay Packers embarrassed the New Orleans Saints, 42-34. I’d like to attribute the record ratings to my beloved Packers becoming “America’s Team,” and while that might explain several million viewers, it probably can’t answer for the entire 27.2 million Americans who tuned in.
27.2 million Americans. It dominated the second place program in that time slot by a staggering 19.7 million viewers, and was the second most watched NFL primetime regular season game in the last 15 years.
Some have charged that football has become an unhealthy obsession, a distraction from the problems of the day, like the bread and circuses of ancient Rome. They’re probably right. But let’s be honest, all TV save the news is escapism. What interests me is why football has become so alluring recently. It’s trumping all other TV by a wide margin. Football hasn’t changed, though, so why is it now the distraction of choice?
I would argue it’s because America has changed. America has changed and football has not, and people do not like this fundamental transformation of America. In a time where everything is politically correct, competition is being outlawed, everyone’s a winner, no one is a loser, and “fairness” is the highest virtue; football has not changed. It is pure, unadulterated competition.
Football offers real, unscripted drama, and everyone competes with the same rules. Two teams enter the gridiron: one wins, and one loses after a fiercely fought battle of strength, strategy, and the will of strong men. Football is the American game. There are no excuses, only victory or defeat. Second place is nothing. I think Americans are longing for the world we’ve left behind. American’s hate losing. We love to compete and we love winning. We don’t want to bailout losers, we don’t want to be bailed out.
Therefore, I think our national obsession with football isn’t just a way to distract ourselves from Obama’s horrific policies, I think Americans are both consciously and unconsciously rejecting Obama’s policies when they watch. For proof, apply Obama’s agenda to the game and imagine what would happen to viewership. If Obama could legislate football, he’d step in and change the rules when his Chicago Bears were down at halftime. The most mismanaged team in all of sports would be given special allowances to make it more “fair” as they “compete” against a team that has been run well.
I think football allows us to tap into our collective national desire to compete and win. Changing the rules to be more “fair” with a system of handicaps would drive fans away in droves (except perhaps Vikings fans, who are no doubt desperate for any handout at this point.) Similarly, think of all the voters who have been driven away in droves from democratic socialism. It’s fundamentally un-American.
Now I don’t mean to say that Americans hate charity or helping those who are down. Quite the opposite. Just as we applaud sportsmanship and boo the opposite, we as Americans are an incredibly generous people. But there is a place for generosity. When the democrats have hijacked that term to mean “enforcement of equal outcomes” we reject that. We believe in equal opportunities guaranteed by liberty and responsibility. We have compassion on those we feel need helping as we see fit, and American philanthropy has always been a powerful force for good. Politicians who no longer believe in charity and would rather buy votes from the public treasury under the guise of “fairness,” “equality,” and most insidiously “generosity,” will always run awry with true Americans. But when the country is being changed against our objections and taken in a direction we know is wrong, it’s easy to tune out until the next election. O, how have we lost our representative democracy when citizens give up on being heard by the government. When Washington won’t listen to us until the Tuesday after the first Monday of even-year Novembers, many will become disillusioned and tune out with football. They’ll dream of a better time when America made sense, and when Washington had to balance its books like the rest of us. We’ll long for the repeal of the welfare state as we watch the unbridled competition of men playing football.
I’ll paraphrase James Earl Jones in Field of Dreams. “The one constant through all the years has been football. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a black board, rebuilt, and erased again. But football has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again.”