How the Superbowl encourages
Posted by Ed Wagemann critques America's_Game
After World War II, during the Eisenhower years America's
national past time was shifting from baseball to football. George
Carlin famously characterizes the differences between the two
games in his iconic comedy routine Football and Baseball in which
he sketches out the reasons that football has become a much
better representative of our modern national psyche than
baseball. We all know the NFL is an integral part of American
culture. The Superbowl is as important as any national holiday
with the exception of Christmas. Millions of fans shun church
each Sunday to religiously study the scriptures of fantasy
football internet pages and bow at the alter of the large screen
plasma game of the week. Other pilgrims journey to the
stadium/shrines in painted face while sporting their team's
tribal colors and logos, screaming, crying and celebrating like
no other day in their lives. Multi-national corporations invest
multi-millions of dollars in the NFL, pimping out players and
teams to promote their products. The NFL has become a symbol of
America. Our celebration of the competitive spirit where the
strongest, smartest, most poised, the sneakiest, strongest willed
and at times luckiest violent bad ass triumphs.
So it's not difficult to witness how America's obsession with the NFL is rooted in our nation's political system. Beyond the obvious similiarities that political elections and NFL contests feed America's hunger for competition as well as the primitive need for real life heroes and villians, there is a more subtle undercurrent of tension that exists when thinking of the NFL as a representative of the American Way. The NFL really began to come into its own after World War II, when millions of returning soliders were using the G.I. bill in order to get a college education. College football at that time was much more popular than the NFL, but as this influx in college-educated American males hit the work force after their four years of college, they took their love for football with them--which eventually began to translate into an interest in the NFL. In fact many of the onservative stigmas associated with pro football come from that Eisenhower era of crew cuts and white bucks of the 1950s. The NFL was the sport of this new 1950s Conservative American male--a relationship that wouldn't be challenged until the late 1960s (as best characterized by the brash, long haired Joe Namath's Superbowl III guarantee and subsequent victory over the crew cut topped Johnny Unitas). But in many ways, the American Conservatism that seemed to permeate from every oriface of the NFL has just been a front. In many ways the NFL had been actually promoting socialism since the New Deal era of FDR.
In 1933, the Philadelphia Eagles, who incidently were named after the logo on FDR's National Recovery Administration's emblem, were owned by Bert Bell (who later became commissioner of the NFL in January of 1946). As the owner of the Eagles, Bert Bell was getting tired of watching the same 2 or 3 teams always winning the league championship year after year, so at a league meeting in 1935 he addressed the other team owners, saying this "I've always had the theory that pro football is like a chain. The league is no stronger than its weakest link...Every year the rich get richer and the poor get poorer...I propose, at the end of each football season...that we pool the names of all eligible college seniors. Then we make our selections in the reverse order of the standings--that is, the lowest-ranked team picks first. We do this round after round until we have exhausted the supply of college players." The idea of the wieghted draft, in which the weakest teams would get the better pick of the college talent was a direct shot at free market capitalism if there ever was one. I mean substitute the words "pro football" and "college players" with "the auto industry" and "electric cars" and you have the makings of Barack Obama stump speech.
In 1947, (now Commissioner) Bell was foreshadowing Obama campaign rhetoric once again when, after a gambling scandal threatened the NFL, he put forth a measure to insure that the league conveyed the utmost transparency in terms of reporting the playing condition of each player by requiring that the league "publish in advance of each game a list of players who were injured and would be unable or unlikely to play." This laid the groundwork for the detailed weekly injury lists that have become such a large part of the NFL experience. Bell stated that "Professional football cannot continue to exist unless it is based on absolute honesty...the game and its players must be kept free from corruption." Once again, a far cry from Romeny-esque Deregulation ideology.
By the 1980s as the NFL evolved, it digested other Socialistic mechanisms. Revenue sharing for instance, which allows each team in the league an equal share of all TV revenue that the league brings in--thereby "spreading the wealth around". We have also seen the NFL adopt salary minimums and salary maximums (Those Marxist bastards!!!). We have seen the league adopt Regulations that protect the health and safety and working conditions of its players (too bad we can't just fire the players and replace them with half-clothed children in China, Romney must be thinking). And we have seen the NFL take a pro-union stance. In short, the longest-lasting, most successful Industry in America right now has a socialistic business model. Which beckons the question that "If socialism worked for the NFL then why not try it on other U.S. industries?" MORE HERE: http://generation-add.blogspot.com/2012/01/americas-game-epic-story-of-how-pro.html
with Ed Wagemann, thinkingblue
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