The Unsolicited Endorsement: Right-sizing football

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by Brian Clarey

I’ll tell you right now: I’m a football fan, mostly NFL but I’m not averse to catching a little college action on the side. And when it comes to my team — that’s the New Orleans Saints, baby — I tend to get a little bit fanatical. For example, I’ve convinced myself that this weekend’s overtime loss to division rivals the Atlanta Falcons is actually a good thing. Because my team’s performance on Sunday afternoons has the power to make or break my week.

And that’s ridiculous. It’s just a game, played by millionaires for the ultimate benefit of billionaires, a modern gladiatorial distraction that can have the tendency to drown out more important news like… I don’t know… the beheading of journalists in a war zone, or an impending election or the polar vortex.

Even the leaked nude selfies of some choice celebrities raise more significant social issues like privacy, patriarchy and technology than the score of the Saints game this weekend.

The NFL’s only contribution to real news over the weekend was the discovery of elevator camera showing Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching his girlfriend in the face, which led to his indefinite suspension from the league.

For days I’ve been talking about domestic abuse, the privileged status of college and professional athletes, PR damage control in the digital-information age and echoes to similar accusations of abuse against players from the league.

A Twitter campaign launched almost immediately, #WhyIStayed, allowed battered women to explain some of the nuances of the issue. Domestic violence will likely be segment subjects on the national morning shows all week, and the local ones the week after that.

The impact of that one short video is far greater here in the real world than anything that happened on the field during Week 1.