I’ve often framed the war on football as a part of the larger war on normal. To use a Sailerism, World War N. The Cult scans the horizon for anything popular with normal people. When they spot something, they begin working to destroy it. The Blue-Gray Line is also a Progressive-Normal line. Mocking Walmart in public becomes an act of piety. Wringing your hands on TV about concussions in football (American football for my UK readers) shows the rest of the Cult that you are one of them. The recent over-the-top hysterics about domestic violence amongst football players is like catnip and it is another entry point into the war on normal.
As is often the case with culture issues, there are many layers. The Fake Nerd fad seems like a way for white beta males to have a place at the table. Traditional white males are racists and crude. Black males are sacred. In between lies the land of the white beta male and his brown skinned companion, the Hindu beta male. You can sprinkle some Jewish dorks on top like jimmies on a sundae. The cast of Big Bang Theory is what the Cult wishes America looked like.
I’ll just note there are no black people on that show or Mexicans. Racists!
Anyway, the trendy, beta male hipster has a bit of problem when it comes to sports. The point of entry has been the fake data driven journalism, but no one really cares about that. If you really follow the data, you end up sleeping on John Derbyshire’s couch. There’s only so many metrics and scatter plots you can do before people get bored. I suspect that’s why the Cult seems to favor soccer and basketball over hockey, football and baseball. Basketball is a sport for a tiny fraction of the human population – outlandishly tall black people. Soccer is a sport anyone can play, even beta males. The players even look like silly urban hipsters.
The point I’m ham-handedly trying to make is that a component of the war on normal is a war on the traditional male. Hollywood no longer casts male leads in action films, it seems. Instead, we get pixie stick women in Lycra body suits manhandling, as it were, the male toughs. The male toughs are always hairy steroidal white guys or steroidal black guys. It’s why the schools are pumping boys full of drugs so they sit there and pay attention. It’s why colleges want to throw horny frat boys in prison for banging drunk chicks.
The war on football is, of course, an easy insertion point for the dimmer members of the sporting press to get in on the act.
“… toughest of the bunch,” Peterson wrote. “He got about five more pops than normal. He didn’t drop one tear! So that was another indicator I’ll have to try another system with him. SMH he’s tough as nails …”
The mother replied: “Well you can’t hit him til he cries! That’s just mean. He’s trying to be strong for you. He’s afraid of you. He’s 4, he’s not playing mind games with you …”
Peterson was trying to make his child into a man before the boy can even form and express complete thoughts. He’s even excited about the challenge, as if facing down a would-be tackler. The child is trying to prove his own mettle, probably because he wants his dad to be proud of him. It’s the same thing Peterson did with his own father, as a child and into his college years, when he dazzled the football world with his toughness as his dad sat in jail.
Adrian Peterson scored a 16 on his Wonderlic. This is a test I’ve taken many times and administered many times. It is not a valid IQ test for a number of reasons, but it is a decent approximation for people who have attended college. Peterson probably has an IQ of around 90. Employers using the Wonderlic are told that a 20 is the minimum for a job stocking shelves in a warehouse. In other words, Adrian Peterson is probably too dumb to understand any of this.
Peterson’s greatest on-field accomplishment was in 2012, when he returned from two knee ligament tears to win MVP honors. It’s understandable how Peterson saw the connection between enduring his dad’s punishment and withstanding football’s agony. He said he would never stop “whupping” his kids, “because I know how being spanked has helped me in my life.”
The current NFL crisis, just like most of the league’s past crises, lies not in who did what or who knew what when, but in a warped and conflicted definition of manhood. It’s an issue that affects all of society – not just the NFL.
“We need to look at what it means to be a man,” said Tony Porter, co-founder of “A Call to Men.”
“What are we teaching our sons?”
More often than not, we are teaching our sons to exert control – over tears and emotions, then girls, then households and careers. Peterson’s son was trying to keep control, and Peterson himself was trying to keep control over his son. That kind of control, no matter how good the intentions, can spiral into abuse of power. That’s what happened in Peterson’s case, and that can certainly happen in domestic violence situations.
“When you see people hit each other as a kid, or when you get hit as a kid, it’s about power and control,” said former NFL player Jimmy Stewart, who says he was abused as a child. “You want power and control over people.”
The madhouse logic here is too much for me to pass up. Take any human activity to an extreme and you get a bad result. Putting that aside, note that the author thinks normal male behavior is a problem. The unwritten assertion is that the modern man needs to be a cheerful lesbian with a dick.
That desire for control is hard to unlearn. Stewart, who is now a licensed professional counselor who works with athletes at Colorado State, says it took him many years to handle the rage he felt from getting hit.
A “licensed professional counselor” is someone with a permit to charge people to talk to him. One of the more amazing facts of modern times is we still subscribe to the quackery of talk therapy. Imagine if your oncologist suggested he talk your cancer out of killing you. Yet, we think you can talk people out of mental illness.
A man who feels a loss of control often feels like his worth is being challenged. Statistics show domestic violence can turn into homicide when an abuser feels his wife or girlfriend has decided to leave. “That’s when they have pretty much lost control,” Porter said.
The punishment of Ray Rice, Greg Hardy and Peterson may feel cathartic, but it doesn’t get at the root of the problem. Nor does the social media mob that was after Richie Incognito last year, who was accused of bullying a teammate in his efforts to control his environment – the Miami Dolphins’ locker room. Hazing is another example of domination of a deemed lesser person in the guise of shaping them or subduing them. Sometimes that too becomes violent. Incognito didn’t quite understand why what he was doing was wrong because it was out of love for a teammate. That sounds a lot like Peterson’s reasoning for whipping his child: I was making him into a man.
Biology tells us that a key trait of male humans is the ability, willingness and desire to dominate other males. We have ritualized it since settlement. It is a part of the culture. It is now a bad thing and must be stamped out. I guess 50,000 years of evolution will yield to the latest fads.
“I’ve been with just about every team in the NFL,” Porter said. “We have this discussion on manhood. What would it take to create a world where all men and boys are respectful and all women and girls are valued and safe?”
The problem is the generational cycle. The definition of manhood is passed on starting at a very young age. Boys take after their fathers, and if there are no fathers present, they often take after their older teammates or coaches. Sometimes those teammates and coaches reinforce this outdated version of manhood that football tends to recycle.
Actually, the problem is that most of the players in the NFL are black. That means they grew up without fathers. Many of them have a bunch of little of bastards by random women.
The coaches who have been put on the spot during this crisis, such as John Harbaugh and Ron Rivera, were football players. They grew up in a football world and they never left. They scream and stomp when something goes wrong, just like their coaches did. They see themselves as builders of men, just like their coaches did. One of the most tone-deaf voices during this period has been Hall of Famer Mike Ditka, who said about Rice, “His earning power is destroyed.”
But that’s the point, isn’t it? The beta male revolution is all about putting the eloi on top the and the morlocks on the bottom. Eric Adelson wants a world where his kind is seen by the females as the high status males. That can only happen if the toughs are cast as low status. Losing your ability to earn money is a good way to put a guy at the bottom of the social order. As long as crude violent men like Ditka succeed, guys like Eric Adelson remain at the bottom.
I’m not sure where this ends. Maybe we are heading to a time when being a high status males means being an effeminate pansie like Eric Adelson staying home and playing mother, while their wife works. I’ve been on this earth for a long time now and I have run into a few guys like this. A professional woman married to a stay- at-home dad has always been easy pickings when on a business trip, if you get my drift. Those guys who were sure their beta male lifestyle was the winner always turned out to be wrong. It’s hard fighting biology.
But, maybe things are different now.