Bleeding heart liberal misses football’s important lessons for our boys

49ers-seahawks-2014 footballPeter Beinart is in agony, because he’s a terrible father.  Why is he such a terrible father?  Because he allows his son to watch pro football with him.  By doing so, says Beinart, he lends his imprimatur to something that’s really no different from a Roman gladiator contest, with the loser gladiator executed or eaten by lions at the end:

Last Saturday night, he [Beinart's 8-year-old son] proudly dug out a long-unused Patriots jersey and joined me on the couch late into the night as the Patriots dispatched the Indianapolis Colts.

It was wonderful. And it made me a little sick.

It made me sick because I could see the game through his eyes. And it wasn’t pretty. My son, unfamiliar with the NFL’s pieties, assumed that hurting the other team’s players was the goal. To his untutored eye, the violence that guilt-ridden fans like myself decry was a feature, not a bug. He didn’t cheer the injuries; he’s too sweet for that. But despite my insistence to the contrary, I suspect the message he took from the experience was: The only thing you need to know about the large man writhing in agony on the screen is whether he’s on our team.

Mr. Beinart, if the takeaway lesson from football that you’re teaching your son is “let’s cheer when men get hurt,”  the problem isn’t with the game, it’s with you.  You are indeed a failure as a father because you, with all your fine words and liberal anguish, were completely incapable of teaching your son the good lessons that football — especially pro-football — teaches.

Thankfully, I’m not you.  After having watched six hours of football yesterday, I had a very different takeaway message for my adolescent son:  You can learn a lot from these guys.  The reason I enjoy watching the game is because there’s something thrilling about men giving 110% to what they’re doing.  I never watch an NFL game and think, “Gee, that quarterback is slacking off.”  Or “That tight end’s doing nothing out there.”  Anybody can be taught technique, but it’s up to each individual to bring passion, self-discipline, drive, energy, and courage to whatever he does.  Those guys who make it to the NFL — and especially the guys who make it to the playoffs — are the best of the best, not just at the sport of football, but at the art of being a man.

Watch a pro game, not for the game aspect, but in a more abstract way, just seeing the men as bodies in motion.  Every man on the field gives his all.  These guys use their bodies as missiles, battering rams, walls, whatever.  They are the quintessence of dedicated manliness without weapons.  It’s hard on the body (although the media is making up numbers as it goes about the risks associated with the game) so these guys are appropriately well-compensated.  That’s okay.  It’s a known risk that they willingly take for a tangible financial reward.

In an increasingly feminized world, pro football is one of the last bastions of unabashed manliness.  In classrooms all over America, boys are forced to sit still and read books about their feelings (where once they were at least allowed to read stories of war and heroism and adventure).  In school yards all over America, girls and boys — but especially boys — are told not to compete, not to run, not to throw, not to hit . . . heck, not to engage in any of the familiar rituals (at all times, in all cultures) that young boys do as they move toward manliness.  Rather than celebrating and cultivating manly virtues (bravery, loyalty, honor, strength), we routinely tell boys that, unless they imitate girls, they are without virtue.  Their natural instincts are defined as fundamentally bad.

And then there’s football.  I’m always amazed and impressed when I see a player run, spin, and leap, eluding attackers and, quite often, still running with at least one person attached to his leg.  My lizard brain is telling me, “If this guy was my mate, and I was being chased by anything from an enraged mammoth, to a Nazi, to a Taliban, this is the guy who would be there for me.  Pajama Boy would be screaming and weeping and begging for mercy, but this football player would lay his life down for me . . . after first inflicting some serious injury on the other guy (or mammoth).”

Yes, these guys can be as violent off the field as they are on.  The fact, though, that their violent acts make headlines tells us that, for most of them, they can turn off the violence just fine.  After all, these incidents make news because their rare, not because they’re ordinary.  In any event, I suspect that their random acts of violence have more to do with their upbringing than their football career.

Men should be allowed to be men.  I’d much rather have my guy get his instincts out in the culturally-sanctioned, structured environment of the football field, rather than spending his day pretending to be Pajama Boy, only to come home frustrated and angry.  For better or worse, we humans are animals.  The healthiest society is that which gives a controlled outlet for our animal instincts, than one that forces people to deny entirely that those instincts exist.

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  1. says

    What is it with the Left and effeminate men?  It’s like their soul has been bred/bled out of them.  Ann Coulter called Ed Schultz a”lying pussy”.  Modern feminism has done terrible disservice to our culture.

  2. Charles Martel says

    My wife is more of a football fanatic than I am. As much as I love the 49ers, I don’t become as sullen as she can when they lose. My peace of mind is helped by looking at the game the same way Book does—the men playing are amazing athletes doing the best they can. If it were preordained that refs wouldn’t screw up calls, or running backs slip on wet patches, or quarterbacks loft passes into the wrong hands, why would I watch?
    One thing that helps me keep foot ball in perspective, literally, it to walk over to the high school football field that’s a two-minute stroll from my house. If I stand on the turf and imagine myself moving at breakneck speed amidst 21 other men—10 of them trying to protect or work with me and 11 of them trying to drop me violently to the ground, two things become obvious: 1.) I don’t have the advantage of the bird’s-eye view that TV offers fans, so it’s hard to see every man and every possibility with bodies flying through my field of vision;  2.) I have split seconds to decide what I’m going to do. The action is so fast and fluid that I often have to depend on pure instinct and sheer athletic ability to hold up my end of things. I don’t have the fans’ luxury of taking in the grand sweep of things, godlike, from comfortable vantages. I’m running for my frickin’ life.
    So I agree with Book about what football can teach a boy. The ability to react quickly and appropriately in tense situations has brought us pretty far. Since most of us lead pretty undramatic lives, with few direct natural threats, keeping the ol’ cave man instincts honed, just in case (Obama coup, alien takeover, uppity Asians), is not a bad idea.

  3. says

    “If this guy was my mate, and I was being chased by anything from an enraged mammoth, to a Nazi, to a Taliban, this is the guy who would be there for me.  Pajama Boy would be screaming and weeping and begging for mercy, but this football player would lay his life down for me . . . after first inflicting some serious injury on the other guy (or mammoth”
    There’s a huge difference between moral and physical courage.
    Many people who use monkeys dancing around as a way to test their manhood and status, do so because they bend knee to the authority of the social commons. Such individuals are learning to Obey, not resist totalitarian evil or authority.
    ” are the best of the best, not just at the sport of football, but at the art of being a man.”
    You can’t really see the man behind the protective gear.
    “rather than spending his day pretending to be Pajama Boy, only to come home frustrated and angry.”
    PJboy is more likely to find a school of kids to kill, and that’s no joke.
    “It’s like their soul has been bred/bled out of them.”
    In so far as animals and zombies have souls… yea.
    “By doing so, says Beinart, he lends his imprimatur to something that’s really no different from a Roman gladiator contest, with the loser gladiator executed or eaten by lions at the end:”
    I’ve actually seen a loser get executed in a supposed sparring contest at a personally owned dojo. He was ordered to do so and incited to do so by the head guy, puffing up the chest.
    So having actually witnessed situations where the loser died, I’m not too convinced by this loser telling me he knows about Roman gladiator contests. I surmise he has no clue what he is talking about and is exaggerating for effect, like monkeys tend to do.

  4. lee says

    Professional ice hockey is being targeted the same way. Used to go to a LOT of ice hockey matches. Went to my first one (ECHL) in ages–not as exciting as it used to be. Good game, but not as exciting. I think it had less to do with the fact that it wasn’t NHL or top college than it has to do with the fact that they’re really in general tightening up on enforcers and the like. Watched a Redwings game after that, and it, too, was just not as exciting.
    Nor like I am rooting for a knock-down drag-out fight to break out, but I think they’ve softened it up to PREVENT fights from breaking out. (It used to get incredibly intense when opposing players are up against the boards, trying to get the puck…)

  5. Libby says

    Beinart is better off watching soccer with his son. Especially international soccer, where the fans’  behavior toward to one another and the racial epithets regularly hurled at players would certainly not make Beinart sick.  

  6. MacG says

    ” He didn’t cheer the injuries;”  THIS is what he is feeling guilty about.  His own inner inner vindictive gladiator and his son witnessing such.  I was taught watching football you do not cheer the others injuries.   There is a fine line between that and now seeing the opportunity of winning the game IF one was behind in the first place.  

  7. 11B40 says

    On behalf of students of Latin everywhere (or anywhere), and especially those former altar boys of a now bygone era, I find that I must question your use of the word imprimatur. My understanding is that the word has to do with permission to print or publish a literary work.  
    The often closely allied Nihil obstat (nothing offends) would be a better choice.

  8. lee says

    It’s funny–I was thinking this weekend of starting some sort of “Bring Back Real Men” movement.
    I think of the guys I know, and they run a whole range. But most of the “real men” I know (or have known) have never been a caricature of Stanley Kowalski that the Left would paint them as. They have been more gentlemenly that most of the metrosexuals I have come across. A few of them have even been gay. They have their gentle sides; they have been loving men. But they have been MEN.
    My husband is a MAN, a real man. I love him!! 

  9. Caped Crusader says

    As I was playing football just as the hard helmets were being introduced, football violence would become self regulating if they would bring back the old leather helmets and outlaw face guards of any type. If you need a face guard you belong on the bench until well. NO massive hard shell battering rams allowed as in today’s game using your encased brain as a sledge hammer. Highly unlikely you’ll bash in another face if you know you’ll be next. The old games were just as exciting and as much collision as in present era games, but lacking the abject violence. Being a mediocre player, the one valuable lifetime lesson learned as a quarterback, is how to fall down without hurting yourself since you get decked on nearly every play. Discipline, teamwork, and camaraderie are other good lessons learned. And, as noted above, there was a time when the entire stadium would give a sincere round of applause for any injured player regardless of the side.

    • says

      Quite right, Caped Crusader. A man doesn’t use armor to protect themselves from injury, while trying to damage other people in a sports game. That’s called something else entirely. And is a result of the society trying to baby people in sports. That makes the sports people not “sportsmen” but sports babies. They throw tantrums and act out, because that’s how society treats them. There is limited freedom of conscience and freedom to act.
      A group of males that decide on the rules and figure out how to have fun without hurting each other, using force or democracy, is one thing. A bunch of babied players that follow the “rules” set by their betters and their rich managers are quite another.

  10. Charles Martel says

    I’ve come to like rugy more and more over the years because it’s fast, rough, and rowdy, but held in check by the lack of armor and padding. Tackles in rugby are robust, but they’re not the kind of ferocious collisions that Hall-of-Famer defensive back Ronnie Lott once called “woo hits,” as in a crowd going “Woo!” at the sight and sound of his famous high-speed impacts on some poor opponent.
    In rugby, you’re not tempted to make woo hits because there’s no protective layers to soften tackles. You can take yourself out of the game pretty quickly laying down tackles at football intensity. However, I do miss the forward pass, which is a thing of great beauty. Watching rugby is like what I would imagine it would be like to observe the fauna on some earth-like planet whose evolution has been remarkably similar to ours. It’s almost the same, but there’s this tantalizing difference.

    • says

      Several martial movements can break a football player’s tackle momentum and destroy their legs in the process. The targets in football, though, generally aren’t allowed to do such things and are busy passing the ball.
      A linebacker or takedown is armored only on certain parts of their body. They use this to drive the impact home. But nobody can run around very quickly in full armor, the joints and articulation points will always present weaknesses.

  11. says

    Japanese high schools teach the ethics of competition via sports such as kendo, karuta, judo, swimming, basketball, baseball, soccer, tennis, kyudo (archery), and that’s about all I can remember of the sports clubs.
    America only has football? Is that what the Left wants us to think? Is that really it?


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