"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Trump vs. football on TV: OK, which is worse?

Donald Trump says his upcoming debates with the Democratic nominee should not coincide with televised football games. Considering how saturated our TV world has become, with football, the scheduling is going to be a challenge.
Trump's comment underscored an underlying national problem: our attachment to football. The game has become an odd sort of opiate. We are awash in news stories about how hazardous the game is for participants. There is no longer any debate about this. But, just as Trump and his supporters defy rational thought so often, so too are football fans and coaches holding off on recognizing the obvious. You confront them about some of the data, and immediately they get a look in their eyes like they think you're getting carried away. They have handy excuses available for their thought processes. You mention certain NFL players and they'll smile and say "oh, that's the pros." Well, the pros are an underpinning of our whole obsession with the game.
Football was a rather marginal sport up until the mid-1960s. The improved quality of the television picture for football was the catalyst for the explosion in popularity. Ironically, the American public in the distant past had a better realization of football's dangers than today's public. Today we watch football as if it's a pinball game in front of us. The glass separates us from the ball in pinball. Watching football on TV presents no hazards to us. We see all those young, vigorous bodies out on the football field, showing no evidence of deterioration. They are so easily replaceable, all those football players. We get interested in the new players and forget about the old.
The discussion in connection with the presidential debates gets me to wondering: Is the American public going to stay obsessed with football indefinitely? Troy Aikman has commented that football faces a threat from mere saturation. People who understand marketing understand that scarcity is an important part of determining value. Remember the days of hyped boxing matches shown on "closed-circuit TV?"
Aikman talked about how each televised football game seemed like a big deal when he was young. Monday night football was a phenomenon for a time. Of course, when something is a phenomenon, it's going to creep beyond its initial boundaries and become more accessible. TV channels have proliferated. So there's lots of football out there, having burst far beyond its one-time confines of Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
So Trump didn't even want a debate coinciding with a major football game. We are so stuck at the altar of football, we are encouraged to be skeptical about having a game coincide with a presidential debate.
The debate subject by itself is rather confounding. How many Republican debates were there during the primaries? Didn't you lose count? It became like entertainment. Everyone just watched to see what novel or insulting comments might come forth to fill the Internet news sites the next day. Democrats had debates that were not quite as dramatic. But all in all, weren't we really overwhelmed by the debates, to where no one has any excuse for not knowing the important policy positions of the candidates? Policy positions hardly mattered in the end - it all just became a forum for entertainment, quite similar to professional wrestling.
We can't be proud of this. We now have Trump as the official nominee of one of the two major parties. He seems to have catapulted to where he is, not through a sober consideration of policy stances, but through an entertaining, provocative flair in how he carries himself.
Trump's political party is hardly recognizable anymore. It is a mob of reactionary people. The party has been guided toward this by Fox News, a network that does not behave like the loyal opposition (to the Democrats). It behaves as if the so-called left-of-center people, really just caricatured by them, are stupid and evil. Just watch "Fox and Friends" in the morning. Listen to Tucker Carlson. Why is he given a platform like this? Is it because of Roger Ailes?
Ailes himself has been in the news lately - have you been paying attention? "Fox and Friends" has a starlet seated in the middle, formerly Minnesota native Gretchen Carlson. She's now in the news for reasons that have been well reported. Fox finds new starlets to replace any that have moved on. It's pretty well established that the females on Fox must wear dresses, not pants. The makeup department handles them in a way that makes them come off rather as hookers. When we see them now, whoever they are, we must seriously wonder how they catered to Roger Ailes to get their positions.
Carlson's lawsuit is reportedly on the verge of being settled for eight figures. Megyn Kelly and Andrea Tantaros have come forward to make revealing comments about Fox's descent into depravity. And this is the network that has coordinated the national effort to make ultra-conservatives into heroes and Democrats into scoundrels. Clearly the Democrats have been put on the defensive. Hillary Clinton has withstood the barrage pretty well so far.
I will not write off Trump's chances at being elected. He has defied all the well-thought-out predictions so far. He may be the articulate despot with that unique gift of appealing to a wide swath of the electorate. We can't help but be reminded of 1930s Germany. The final event in sealing Trump's rise to power could be the long-awaited major correction in the stock market, an event predicted by the likes of Carl Icahn. Overwhelming stress in the economy could trigger a descent into a throbbing tidal wave of irrational, reactionary thinking.
Trump as commander in chief could instigate something that could cause other world powers to coalesce in stopping us, just like the Allies reacted in World War II. This time we'd be the bad guys. Of course, we already were the bad guys in Viet Nam. World War II instilled in us the feeling that victory over a despicable foe is uplifting. Of course, war is nothing but bad.
So, we're worried about the presidential debates coinciding with football. Nixon never debated Humphrey or McGovern. Somehow nobody really seemed to care. We care now because the entertainment industry presses so many buttons. As always we end up manipulated by the media/entertainment industry, just like we are exploited by big-time football.
The Morris Area Chokio Alberta football Tigers begin their pre-season practices this time of year. We can pray that their numbers will be down, that people will become enlightened enough to reject this sport. The Morris area supposedly includes many intelligent people. We'll find out.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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