I’ve always been a sportsball fan. I’ve joked that I’d watch ant wrestling if they put it on television. My sports passion does not manifest itself equally across all sports. I’ll watch the international kick-ball tournaments, but I have zero interest in European league play or the MLS. Baseball is a sport I listen to, more than watch. I’ll often put a game on and read a book, paying attention as the situation warrants. American football is a TV-only sport for me. The same is true of hockey.

For me, Thanksgiving weekend is one of the best sports watching weekends of the year. I’m not a big fan of the NFL anymore, but I enjoy the Thursday games. The big draw is the college rivalry games. Friday and Saturday are packed with old fashioned grudge matches where the records don’t matter. The players on both sides are fueled by a good old fashioned hatred of the other guys. You don’t have to be a fan of the teams to enjoy the games because you know they count.

My guess is I love the rivalry games because I played sports as a kid. As a freshman in high school, the week we played our arch-rival in football was almost overwhelming. Freshman played on the freshman team, but we still played our nemesis at the end of the year. All week the older boys reminded us of what it meant. By the game, all of us wanted to kill the other guys. The only thing better than facing your enemy on the ball field is walking off the field triumphant.

In Dublin, I struggled to explain American football to the locals because they could not grasp the brutality of the game. In my first rivalry game, I hit a kid so hard I heard the air escape his lungs. He was left gasping for air like a fish. To play football requires a reckless disregard for your physical well-being. That’s the thrill of it as a player. Add in the rivalries and the traditions and it is as close a young man can get to being a gladiator. Wrestling and boxing are the only comparisons.

Anyway, watching all of the rivalry games is good fun for me and I look forward to it every year. What struck me watching the games yesterday is that football is no longer a sport played in parts of the country. That’s obvious when you look at college ball. There are no good teams in the Northeast. Penn State would be the one exception, but Western Pennsylvania is more Midwest than northeast. There’s also the fact the players they recruit are from the South and Midwest.

If you look at New England, which is the most feminized part of the country, the high school football is laughably bad. No major colleges recruit the region. Their local colleges are not very good either. The one exception is New Hampshire, which is good enough to make the play-offs, but just barely. The rest of the colleges range from really terrible to just terrible. Boston College is the one major college program in New England and they are one of the worst major college programs in the nation.

Looking at the top division, the Power Five conferences, you have Boston College, Syracuse, Rutgers, Maryland, Pittsburgh and Penn State. Their combined record against their FBS opponents is 21-and-35. That includes the two teams that get most of their players from the Midwest. No one in Western Pennsylvania thinks of themselves as Northeastern. Net out those schools and the Northeast is 7-and-29 this year. That’s about as bad as it get in the college game.

This is not just a college phenomenon. In the South, high school football teams have to cut players because they have so many boys trying out every year. In New England, they struggle to field teams and the players all play both ways. I know parents in New England that would not allow their boys to play football because it was too rough. There’s also the firm belief that anything girls can’t do must be immoral so it must be stopped. The result is a dying sports culture.

It’s not just that the men in these Progressive strongholds are wimps. There’s also a demographic issue. New England is the nation’s oldest region. Whenever I go to Boston, I’m always struck by how old it is. There are loads of students around the colleges, but outside those areas it is mostly older people. It’s also mostly white people too. New England is honky town. Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire are the three whitest states in the country. Massachusetts is 8% black.

I’ll also note that the war on football via the concussion issue started in Boston. The hysteria over concussions has all the trappings of junk science, driven by fanatics, rather than facts. Blows to the head are never a good thing, but these people are claiming football causes ALS, which is quackery on stilts. My guess here is the Cold Civil War is at the root of this. Football is a Southern sport now so that means the neo-Puritans of New England must try to ban it as immoral.

Given how things happen in America, my guess is football is headed for the same end as boxing. Once the vinegar drinking shrews of New England decided boxing was bad, boxing slowly disappeared from the public sphere. I grew up seeing pro fights on daytime TV. Now you have to buy fights via pay-per-view, as if it is pornography. The best fighters these days are not Americans because American parents will not let their boys go to a boxing gym.

Of course, the future is not written. We may be at peak lunacy with places like New England. The rest of the nation loves football and loves the masculine traditions that surround it. Watch Alabama – Auburn and you see girls being girts and boys being boys, just as their parents and grandparents. No amount of preaching by prim-faced lesbians from Boston is going to change that reality. But, I used to think that about other things that have been banned by the Left.

68 thoughts on “Football

  1. gave up pro and college football long ago. the nfl and ncaa are slaves to left wing politics and suck down taxpayer funds like welfare queens popping out young’uns. both organizations should be 100% privately funded.

    watch them and you are stuffing money into the media pockets to spread more lies and anti American manure

    • A lot of larger NCAA football programs are privately funded. The athletic programs at schools such as Alabama, Florida, LSU, Texas, etc. are run by non-profit organizations that raise their own money and actually contribute revenue toward their respective universities.

  2. No kidding about the Iron Bowl. One of my relatives from Indiana moved down there to teach at Auburn. Now he thought Indiana was serious about basketball…then he went to his first Iron Bowl. Comment afterwards, “you coach the losing team down here and they burn your fucking house down”.

  3. I have relatives in MA who won’t let their kids play football. Instead they play soccer which is a nightmare of club teams and never-ending seasons. And silly beyond belief since the white boys will never be better than the Brazilians and Mexicans.

    The acceptable sports for young men with healthy levels of testosterone are now only hockey and lacrosse.

  4. Growing up in Pasadena, football was a very big deal from junior high school (ours ran from grades 7-10) through JC (our JC included the last two years of high school and the first two of college). Junior high rivalries got us going. Later rivalries even took on what would now be characterized as racial tones when the big JC game every year was against virtually all-black Compton. I don’t know what they do now, but politically Pasadena might as well be in New England. I still love football, the more all-out the better.

    My late, very ladylike mother, raised in Pittsburgh, loved “prize fighting”, as it was called back then. One of my best friends was a Golden Gloves champion. The kindest, gentlest man, but hell on wheels in the ring.

    As a woman, I mourn the feminization of our country.

    • My grandchildren call me Lady, Lulu, and I love Pasadena so much. Had an aunt who lived there for many years. Top of my bucket list is to attend the Rose Bowl Parade just once. Watch it every year, though;-) My Dad saw Cal play in the Rose Bowl back in the 1920s. Anyway, your comment re: prize fighting hit home (sorry for the pun). I was very absorbed in this sport when I was growing up in the 1950s. I remember Rocky Marciano from Brockton MA, the last undefeated Heavyweight Champion, and I adored Floyd Paterson. We kids found out he had moved to a suburb bordering ours (Westchester Co NY) and would kinda hang out nearby, hoping to see him. Never did. I also liked Joe Frazier and years’ later one of our friends in the Navy told us tales of Joe’s adventures growing up in Beaufort SC. However, I disliked Cassius Clay/Mohammed Ali. Thought him a traitor. Could be that boxing’s decline in public attention was caused by his sucking the oxygen out of the sport with all the liberal attention lavished on their hero. Kind of ruined it for the other guys who weren’t “sticking it to the Man,” IMO. A favorite recent (5 yrs?) movie of mine was “The Fighter” w/ Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy —? and excellent Oscar-winner Supporting Female Actor doing great jobs in it. It’s set in Boston, where we lived for some years. Great boxing, true story, too.

  5. Hockey.

    New England is Hockey..
    Hockey is faster than football (and has the least annoying announcers of any sport)..
    Hockey hits harder than Football.
    Hockey players fight (ever try that shit on skates?).

    Otherwise, I’m in agreement with most of what is posted here.

    • Hockey will always be a second tier sport in the U.S. due to the cost of entry. Knowing how to skate, the equipment, ice-time, etc… Too much for most people.

      Lacrosse is the alternative for coddled white-kids not permitted to play football.

      • Drake, partially agree, but Pro Football is in a serious decline and the younger kids are often not allowed to play because of the concussion issue. So what does that leave us with? Baseball and Basketball.. I’m with Z in that baseball is great on the radio.. I don’t need to sit down and watch it.. Does anyone watch Basketball anymore?

      • And there are girls’ lax teams, too. Also, it has the preppy image like field hockey (uniform consisting of kilts), which is played, according to my husband who spent a p-g year in England, by boys/men all over the former Em-pi-yah. There are girls’/women’s ice hockey teams, too, at some high schools and at Ivy League
        Colleges. This started back in the 80s, I believe, with the rise of Title IX. I probably would have tried out if I had had the opportunity as I liked contact sports. Don’t think it’s a real money-maker for the schools that sponsor this, like football is for most. Re: NE football decline. My high school classmate and triple sport varsity captain (football, basketball and baseball) and local All-Star, returned to our school as coach and then AD, now retired with new gym named for him. The football team has become the boys’ soccer team and he has coached the girls’ tennis team to several state titles. Many Asian girls on this one. The school is a very small suburban NY school. Our class had 88 in it. We were in a sports league with similar small school districts. My senior year, the football team won the League Championship. It was so exciting for EVERYONE. I was the Majorette and led the band down the field at halftime. My best friend was Head Cheerleader. Our games were either on weekday afternoons where we would “motorcade” a bunch of convertibles w/ tops down, out of the students’ parking lot, sitting on top of the back seat (no seatbelts!) 15 miles to the other school’s stadium. Saturday afternoons, also, game time. The band did not travel to the other schools, but the cheerleaders did. Happy days;-)

  6. One side I think is overlooked is the equipment side of things. The new helmet designs are presumably more effective at “reducing” the risk of concussion and have caused the market to replace all their equipment from high school on up. And I am sure, although I have no numbers at hand, that the price tag is astronomical to achieve said proportional “reduction” in risk. And those cost increases are now fixed for the future so equipment manufacturers have implemented, in effect, a price increase through social justice.

    This is just like every liberal (crony capitalism marketing) well-intentioned effort which aims at protecting without thought to the actual cost of achieving the marginal gains in safety. Instead of seeking better coaching and officiating with stiffer penalties for “headhunting” the gains from all this fluff of activity will still be “marginal.”

    As with any other aspect of life, we simply need to enforce the rules that exist, not write new ones or make cost prohibitive decisions that change the game for everyone.

  7. “My guess here is the Cold Civil War is at the root of this. Football is a Southern sport now so that means the neo-Puritans of New England must try to ban it as immoral.”

    How NASCAR fits into this ZMan?

  8. I grew up in the South but moved to Connecticut in 10th grade. My new high school played football games on Saturday afternoons, not because the stadium didn’t have lights (it didn’t) but because the locals insisted that HS football was properly played on Saturday afternoons. When I pointed out that literally everyone else in the country played HS football on Friday nights, I’d either be told I was wrong about that fact or that the rest of the country had it all wrong.

    This little anecdote really summed up my take on New Englanders … simultaneously incurious about the rest of the country yet certain of their own superiority in all things.

    Also … Mr Z-Man, first you make your way to Dublin for the season opener, and then make a reference to Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate … THWG?

  9. Callmelennie’s comment took me to the Wayback Machine,1968,St Mary’s.the poor Catholic high school. I was a freshman.The previous year,Coach Ed Doherty’s team took State. It was an electric shock to the local Sportsworld,how could this small downtown school accomplish this? Probably a fluke. Next year,1968,they did it again,with their 5’4″ quarterback,Joe Fierros.who as Lennie said, “lacked both overwhelming size and speed,but compensated with quickness and toughness and mental acuity.” Yes,he did. So did the team,assorted Mex,White,Catholic kids all. We were immensely proud to share in their Herculean accomplishment as a school. Checking St Mary’s website today,there’s no mention of that Championship season. Nothing. It’s like Lou Holtz being absent from Notre Dame. There’s plenty of Social Justicism and female sportlyness on the current webpages. Yawn… those long ago Friday nights at the home games are the one thing I loved about that school.

      • Spartan,the Billy Bob Thornton movie “Friday Night Lights” did a good job capturing the pain,blood,exhaustion,busting your ass ethics that go in to a season,only to have it dissolve at the end. I’ve always thought one of the big motivators for the 67-68 St Mary’s team was the Valleywide poor relation underdog status. Those guys didn’t even have their own field to practice on-the school leased Phx Union HS’s field,blocks away. There was a lot of heart in those teams.

    • Nori, my older brother played against Joe Fierros. Jose Fierros was the scat-back. The QB was Bill Mannion, who was most likely Hispanic. I remember the Brophy-St Mary’s game in ’68. The Brophy defense, which was the best D in the state, was knocking the crap out of Mannion the entire first half. Then, sometime near halftime, Mannion goes back to pass and it looks like he’s about to be engulfed by the entire Brophy defense when suddenly the ball squirts out like a wet bar of soap to Joe Fierros in the flat and — Oh $&*t, it’s a SCREEN PASS!

      And little Joe Fierros proceeds to flit back and forth across the field like a waterbug for a 60 yard touchdown, and Brophy goes into halftime down 7-0 and completely demoralized. But that was St Mary’s football for ya. BTW, I was still in grade school at the time

  10. It’s hard to gauge. Boxing is on the decline but MMA is on the rise. Football has surpassed baseball as America’s true pastime. Video games are a lot more violent than they used to be, as is popular culture in the form of movies and tv series.

    One issue I took with Pinker’s Better Angels is that he used violence in popular culture as a barometer of violence in society in general through history. The US’ collective culture–in sports, video games, and movies–is a lot more violent than it was three decades ago even though real life was more violent then than it is now.

  11. “….Wrestling and boxing are the only comparisons…..”

    Well, Rugby also compares to football.

    I’ve seen on TV the World Championships of Rugby, and that is one tough, “manly” sport.
    I still can’t figure out what the scrum is all about (why? when? do they get into that formation? how is it decided who “wins” the scrum; all a big mystery to me).
    Those rugby guys are literally animals; they look like cartoon/Hollywood “action figures.” And those guys are really in shape, running up and down the field (the pitch? or is that just soccer?) non-stop.
    I think they are allowed to call a time out when someone on the field is killed, but that’s it.
    You will NEVER see some idiot fan run across a rugby field during a game; that would literally be suicide.

    Actually, it’s more fun to watch than US football.

    And as hard as it is to believe, France actually has a very competitive world class rugby team !! For sure, their players will all be voting for Marine LePen !!

  12. The demise of western Pennsylvania football is directly attributable to school “desegregation”. There were, literally, hundreds of school districts with 600-1000 kids, big enough to field very good teams. The competitive level in WPIAL football was enormous, which produced rafts of talent. In the early 60’s more than half of Nebraska’s and Miami’s team were WPIAL Alumni. My high school, with a 4-5-1 record my senior year wound up with all but one of the graduating seniors with athletic scholarships, most to smaller colleges, but a couple to the big boys.

    Then came the federal court control of the schools, with the smaller, racially segregated (because of housing segregation- some due to “we don’t sell to them”, but much due to natural clustering) districts merged into 5000-15000 student mega-schools, and the number of available high quality teams for players to develop dropped drastically, and the WPIAL sank into the sea of mediocrity it is today.

  13. Football players at all levels are exponentially bigger, stronger and faster than they were 50 or so years ago. There is so much money in the game now that any semblance of amateurism is all but extinguished. I sometimes watch high school games for the fun of it and they are not only scary good but professional looking at all aspects of the game. It is a profession now at all levels, with all involved working at it year round. The huge cash flow has driven the changes. The colleges and pro franchises, in partnership with the tv networks, are making so much money they do not want their product viewed as deadly violent. I saw a player get ejected from a game yesterday because of a hit that would have been applauded ten years ago. Bad head injuries, paralysis and death are the last things the owners/tv people want to be associated with the game.

  14. An coordanate adverse trend for HS football, in addition to a feminized culture, is cost (particularly for over-lawyerd blue states). I played (badly) in an exurb in the late ’50’s and early ’60’s. At that time your summer job in construction or farm labor was your summer conditioning program. IOW, summer conditioning paid YOU to become physically competitive. And the program fee was easily affordable from a guy’s minimum wage summer earnings. I recall that it was ~$60: Less than two week’s take-home and about $240 in today’s dollars. IOW, regardless of your skill level, HS football participation was easily self-funding.

    Now, to be physically competitive at the big, consolidated HS level, you have to have summer conditioning that somebody pays for (~$500+), usually only available by having your parents join a health/sport club (at ~$200/month). And that program precludes holding a summer job, even if you could find one that the illegals missed scarfing up. State rules here prohibit HS’s from running their own summer conditioning programs in a futile effort to level the playing field between suburban and rural areas.*

    And the equipment fees (which must cover liability insurance – the now-dominatant cost driver – as well as keeping even in the equipment armaments race) can run into the low $ thousands in some metro areas. No way most single moms can cover that ~$4 – $5 thousand cost package. Even for intact families participation unavoidably becomes an economic decision where potential skill level can’t help being a factor.

    So, for a single mom with a sad, average-skilled son, being opposed to the violence of it all is a handy out.

    *Urban teams’ games are just excuses for gang fights these days, so participation is well down out of other prudential safety fears (that are well justified).

  15. “New England is honky town. Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire are the three whitest states in the country. Massachusetts is 8% black.” On the other hand, they have the largest community of Brazilians in the country, several hundred thousand. So far as I can tell, white Brazilians. I’ve twice had a Brazilian as a seat mate in the air, and got an education. We never hear about them because they don’t demand anything of anybody (that may be the type of immigrant Massholes want–send the Samali’s to Minnesota). It is an ordeal to open or operate a business or to get anything else done in the homeland. I didn’t hear the slightest affinity for the old country. Here, by comparison, in their judgement you just do whatever you want. You work wherever you want,opportunities are unlimited, it’s paradise. It’s ironic because our betters are taking us down the Brazilian road.

  16. “prim-faced lesbians from Boston”
    Funniest true line I’ve read in a month.
    Now to wipe coffee off my computer screen…

  17. Growing up near the border with Tijuana, we had Mexican kids on the football team. They just were too friendly and couldn’t get angry or aggressive enough to lay on a big hit. Now the Samoan kids (and they were big guys)….

  18. The first Harvard-Yale football game was in 1875. It was a pick up game challenge, and a brutal affair. It became a yearly tradition, as were the ambulances waiting to cart off the gouged and mangled scholars. Pretty soon they had to build the country’s first football stadium. They were sons of the War Between the States, not great-grandchildren of Frankfort School.

  19. “New England is honky town. Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire are the three whitest states in the country. Massachusetts is 8% black.”

    And these parts of the country also have the least problem with immigration and illegal immigration. One suspects that if it was more visible to them, people in the more Democrat portions of this country might have a little more of a sense of urgency about this issue.

    Given how things happen in America, my guess is football is headed for the same end as boxing.

    Wrong cause, right effect. The death of boxing coincided with the greed motivation. The money got so big and they got so greedy that they went to pay-per-view to extract the maximum amount of money. But only die-hard fans and gamblers are willing to shell out money to watch on pay-per-view. Without exposure to the casual fan, the casual fan loses interest.

    I see the same thing happening to football and really all forms of media. We were trying to pull up a movie this weekend at my brother’s house. We search YouTube first — trailers only. We go to Netflix — not there. We find it on another site — can’t play over the X-box; video rights not authorized. We finally find another movie on U-Verse, but not the one we wanted. This is a lot of effort to go through just to watch a stinking movie!!!

    Same thing is going to happen to football.

    • I was never a boxing fan but as a sports fan I was always left with the notion that it’s decline was due largely to fights being “fixed.” Corruption, the mob, especially with blacks and the Islam bunch dealing early on with jailed convicts to fill fight cards on the cheap but raking in the big dough for largely disposable “talent.” The sport never cleaned up it’s act and left the door open for the eventual formation of something the likes of MIxed Martial Arts. Now with the big money flowing there, I see a similar scenario developing but with different actors.

  20. Football, that’s the one with the pointy ball?

    As an euro-honky i just don’t get it, what’s so great about saying hut hut, and then running across the field to touch a pole? If i want pole action, I’ll go to the strip bar! You should see those moves…

  21. I haven’t seen football linked with ALS, just CTE. Zman, most posts I have no disagreement with your position; this one I do. In fact, I will come right out and say you are being disingenuous 😛 You played the game so I know you know former players — all of whom have fukked up bodies. And that’s if you only take it to the HS level. Play college ball and your brain will be damaged as well. This sport is inherently damaging to all who participate in it, so it’s no surprise many parents won’t allow their sons to play it. You can get 99% of the character building (that football provides) from any competitive sport without all the brain and body damage. Think I’m wrong? Then explain why so may pro players are retiring after a year of two of play….

    • I quit after my junior year in high school, when I got a big concussion in a scrimmage. Never did tell anyone about it, but I had a headache for a week.

    • HS level: ruined ankles after one year. Being a NYer preppie type, I ended up fencing and playing squash, both of which are viewed as faggy by pretty much everyone, but both are highly competitive and require considerable skill. Didn’t last past freshman year on the college fencing team, but was a good squash player well into adulthood. From here on out, it’ll be whiffle ball with the grandsons.

      • Learned to play squash at Vassar. They also had a giant old handball type of court that was hardly ever used (back in the 60s) that my friend and I would just go crazy in, whaling on some little hard rock of a ball, ducking and laughing as the thing ricocheted off the walls. My boyfriend played squash at his NE prep school and had his top front teeth knocked out by his opponent, so he had a large dental repair bill. Squash and indoor “court tennis,” played off a roof alongside the court, are still popular at men’s clubs in some old cities like Boston and Cleveland. Not sure if very many of these are still around, though.

    • I played some high school football and done my share of running over people and getting my ass run over too. I think what you refer to and I have observed the same is that over time the game has changed while controls have loosened. What I mean is that players are bigger, faster, stronger and the collisions are inherently more damaging. However, there has been no compensation on the “rules” side of things to protect players. And the “aiding and abetting” of literal convicts who are hired guns to go out and hurt people … well, those are not athletes. Those are headhunters and shouldn’t be allowed into the game. But the big money speaks and so the ethics of the game slide from the pros down to the high school level and probably to even Pop Warner and the Dad’s who want their son’s to “knock the shit out of someone!”

      So I it all depends on when you grew up and where you played in my opinion. I’ve taken my knocks in mountain bike riding, road biking, and the grand finale was a car accident that caused me to wind up with a TBI, Traumatic Brain Injury that put me into early retirement. I’m still taking meds for headaches and such. But I don’t blame the sport. Some of the cheap shots were from clowns who took them and didn’t get caught. Some where of my own doing. Doing your job and stopping the opposing running back by planting yourself directly between you and the end zone and taking him out. Times to remember. But everyone knows the score. If you want to play, you gots to pay. No way around it.

      What next? Oh, someone lost their shirt in the stock market? We can’t have that! We should outlaw the gambling of investing and make the world a safer place! No, YOU get out of MY life. Let me enjoy what I like and you do what you like. Typical liberals always wanting to tell everyone else what to do, to control everyone else’s life. Go get your own. Leave me the fuck alone.

  22. We had 40 kids on the 7th grade team here in South Carolina, which was actually a light turnout. Last year they had so many kids they fielded two 7th grade teams.

    One of the smaller schools we played had 48 kids on their 7th grade team and their school only had a total of 189 kids, which means essentially every boy in the 7th grade was on the football team.

  23. Don’t forget state high school championship games. Michigan just finished its playoffs, and it’s great watching lower division games where entire rural, small towns turn out at Ford Field to watch their kids. As a side note, some of these high schools run offensive schemes like the single wing that you might’ve thought had disappeared 60 years ago. No advertising stops in play, just football the way it was meant to be played.

  24. I’ve taken a lot of blows to the head between football, boxing, skiing and some other activities. I still do pretty well on standardized tests, having taken one just a couple of months ago.

    In defense of my homeland, SoCal still plays a lot of football. My Mexican and Asian brothers just don’t get big enough to make it to the big time.

    In the Northeast, several schools play in the Sprint Football League, which is for men 158 lbs or less. IMO, that needs to spread.

    • You certainly see more Mexican kids in youth sports, but it has been a very slow process. I’m not sure why that is. Soccer should be a natural draw, but the youth leagues in America are a trainwreck run by single mothers. Still, football and baseball are accessible, but Mexicans have been slow to join. Boxing in the Southwest, however, is dominated by Mexicans. I often laugh seeing a Mexican kid waving around the Mexican flag before a fight, despite the fact he grew up in Arizona and speaks no Spanish. Maybe there’s just a culture issue at play where Mexicans prefer solo sports over teams sports.

      • In what I call the second and third generation suburban Mexican towns, the high schools have no problems filling the football team rosters. Of course, my info is getting pretty stale. Someday I’ll get back.

        • You see many more Spanish surnames in football than in years past so I guess it takes time. There’s also the fact that Mexican kids may be a little smaller in general. I have no data on that, but my time in Mexico suggests there’s a size element too. Of course, Mexican kids have the same challenges in the modern age as everyone else. XBox and junk food. Mexico is now the fattest country on earth.

      • “…but Mexicans have been slow to join.”

        Perhaps in places like Little Leauges, but in SoCal they sure are rabid Dodger fans.

      • I played high school ball in Arizona in the Seventies and our big rival was St Mary’s, the poor Catholic school in town — so I encountered numerous Mexicans. My take on them — they lacked both overwhelming size and speed, but compensated with quickness and toughness and mental acuity. Mexicans were well suited for the inner line positions like guard and inside linebacker. They were more than willing to slug it out with you, and they really did pack a punch for their size — they were hard hitters. One other thing — they seemed to mature physically earlier, so that the Mexican running back who ran over you as a freshman turned into a scat back who tried to outfox you as a senior.

        Perhaps one of the reasons Mexicans prefer individual sports is because there are weight divisions. There are more opportunities for males who aren’t overwhelmingly big or tall to prove their manhood. And that’s important to them

      • It is a very complicated place. You could write a later day _Chinatown_ with El M ethnically cleansing the black neighborhoods, West Side progressives paying off Mexican pols to sponsor environmental legislation in the Assembly and Senate against the best interests of their own communities, Asians buying up every piece of real estate they can lay hands on, and — here and there — pockets of second and third generation Anglos, Asians and Mexicans desperately trying to keep the schools, hospitals, and infrastructure running in the midst of all the insanity and corruption and everyone would call it a lie, but you’d be closer to the truth than anything you could read in the media.

        Not very pretty, but it’s home. I keep going back.

    • Standardized tests don’t measure the blackouts, bleeding tongue from chewing it, or burns from falling in the shower and turning the hot water up high as you fell. Didn’t play sports but did hit my head several times growing up. I take two seizure medications twice a day now. I will put my word skills up against anyone’s on a standardized test.

    • American football is much more violent than rugby. One reason is the body armor. It makes you feel indestructible. The other reason is the stoppage in play. Those breaks allow the players to rest and go into hyper drive on each play. Rugby requires a degree of stamina and players have to pace themselves.

      • Back when I was the chairman of a UK American Football team, one of the players told me that a friend of his had said he wanted to try the game at practice. After all he had seen it on TV. He borrowed all the pads and helmet and went out on to the field. First hit and he ran off, thrusting the now unwanted helmet at the player I knew. “But it still hurts” the lad gasped, determined never to play another down.

        Armour, after all, is only as strong as the person inside it.

    • Rugby is more in the same space as hockey, metric football, and lacrosse in that except for scoring and penalties, you could keep playing for the duration without ever stopping. The breaks after every play and the very lax substitution rules make gridiron a very strategic game. It’s hard to explain unless you grew up with it. I don’t think you have to memorize a 50-page play book in any other sport.

      • That’s a great point about the playbook. When I played in little league, everyone ran the wishbone or single wing so you grew up learning those offenses. In high school, I got a book of plays we started learning as freshman and it got thicker each year. You get homework in football, which is weird when you think about it.

      • Can we clarify this nonsense about imperial and metric in football?

        A lot of Americans believe for reasons that escape we Brits, that we in the UK are in love with metric measures. We aren’t. I accept our children are being steamrollered into believing in kilometres instead of miles, etc, but trust me, football pitches in the UK are measured in yards. True, there are feeble attempts to make metres important, but the penalty spot is 12 yards from the goal line, even if the French and Germans mark it as 11 metres.

        Football (soccer, if you really must use that dreadful name) is a UK invention. Currently we just aren’t very good at it.

        Mind you, egg-chasing in the Union code is imbued now with metric measures, but that is a London/southern softie thing.

      • Yes – I played rugby. It’s a game where you can grind down an opponent with better stamina. It’s violent and brutal, but is a different way. It’s rarely about one big hit – it’s cumulative pain and exhaustion. Two 40-minute halves of violence and endurance without timeouts is brutal.

  25. As I recall, a Russian Army officer, on watching a game of college football, said something like ‘ with a game like that, how can you lose!’….

    • I spent a lot of time after the Cold War trying to figure out how we had won given the pundits and often our own intel was constantly saying that the Russians were these chess playing strategic geniuses who would bury us unserious westerners. Then one day it dawned on me. Football is chess with the other side trying to hurt you.

      • Yeah, but football has boundaries and the Russians don’t. I don’t think we have the guts to burn down an entire continent or storm a movie theater to rescue hostages without regard to any collateral damage.

        • We have boundaries but Russia has borders. With North Korea, China, Japan, China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Norway, Poland…

          You can forgive them being occasionally a little overzealous.

  26. It’s no coincidence that football culture follows the same geographic arc as military recruitment–from southern VA through the southeast region, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Colorado. The rituals of manhood still matter in these regions. California is probably the exception that proves the rule, but that’s mostly because of sheer population numbers and the relatively large portion of black athletes in SoCal.

    I’m finished with the NFL. The league’s support of players sitting out the national anthem was the final straw. #NFLBoycott

    • Honkies play Hockey in New England. Most of the Div 1A power conferences in hockey are in the Northeast. Additional to that is Lacrosse, which kids start young in Grade school. If you played football (metric and imperial) in the fall, chances are you were playing Lax in the spring. If you played Hockey in the winter, you play lax in the spring. If you are looking for a scholarship to college, hockey and lax are your best options, especially when your name does not start with a “Le” or “De” something.

      Most people don’t realize that Jim Brown was a Div 1 caliber lax player at Syracuse before he played football in the NFL.

    • MMA’s rise came at the cost of boxing’s popularity. Many young men who would have been interested in boxing 30 or more years ago (c. 1980-1990) got into MMA because, in part, it didn’t have the stigma of corruption that surrounded boxing. By the time one got to 1990, boxing’s corruption had become so bad that it was joked about incessantly. And who wanted to pay hundreds of dollars to see a fight that was more likely than not rigged? MMA started as cage fighting between fat bouncers and clueless guys in small, poor towns in “fly over country.” Then smart and savvy promoters who learned from the boxing industry’s mistakes arrived, standardized rules, cleaned up the sport and started to attract true athletes. Once they had good fighters, the promoters garnered very profitable pay-for-view television coverage.

      It also is no coincidence that MMA is far more racially and ethnically diverse than boxing. White boxers stopped being household names in the 1960s; by the 1970s the most famous boxers known in the US were black (hence the popularity of the “Rocky” movies.). Contrast that demographic reality with MMA. There is a great mix of white, black, Hispanic, Asian, etc. fighters on the cards on the big name MMA fight nights. The fighters come from all over the world and big MMA fight venues are not restricted to Las Vegas or Atlantic City.

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