Thursday, March 23, 2006

So long NFL; Hello reality

I am here stating publicly that I will no longer watch NFL football games. I recognize that the stand I have chosen to take is not likely to make a difference, but I am not boycotting the NFL per se. I am not saying that if the Cowboys get rid of Terrell Owens that I will watch again or that if the league finally does what it should have long ago to get rid of people like him. I am not holding my fandom hostage. I think I'm through with football for a very long time.

I have been a lifelong Cowboys fan. I have supported them during the good times and bad times. I have never been able to afford tickets. The only game I've seen in person was a preseason game and my ticket was a present. But I've watched faithfully since I was about five or six years old. Some of my fondest memories are wrapped up in watching my team: my step-father and I screaming at the television and only agreeing on the fact that the Steelers committed pass interference in the Super Bowl; my friends and I meeting on Sundays after lunch to scarf down Myron's chips and salsa while we rooted our boys on; people at work laughing at me when I predicted that the 1-15 Cowboys would win the Super Bowl within three years.

When Tom Landry was unceremoniously booted, I quaked with anger and thought I should find something else to do with my Sunday afternoons. But I stuck with my team. When Jimmy Johnson was fired right after winning the Super Bowl, I was aghast, but decided to hope for the best. When Bill Parcells came on board, I was excited at our chances, though sad that players, media and an egotistical owner fired others for not doing a job well that they were not given the opportunity to do.

I have supported the Cowboys even when favorite players got in trouble with the law or did things off the field that did not sit well with my sense of morality. When decisions were made that seemed to come from an un-aired episodes of The Outer Limits, I still watched, hoping. I've always been uncomfortable about the "America's Team" tag, and I do not have any illusions that players, coaches, and owners were more moral at some point in the past. I know it is a business. What I cannot stomach any longer, is that it is a business that tells the fans what to admire and love. It reminds of those punk rocks bands that would spit on and otherwise abuse members of their audience. It is not just Jerry Jones that has spit on me. It is Paul Tagliabue (sp?), the league itself, and those who make their money on the drama even as they discuss the likely consequences.

The signing of Terrell Owens by the Dallas Cowboys is not so much a sign of the beginning of the apocalypse as it is a sign that football is not really a game. I'm sure that he will make the team better. People who love Mr. Owens say that when the team wins the Super Bowl, then everyone will like him and say the move was a good one. Likely this is true. But I won't be there to see it because I don't care anymore how many more games the Cowboys win. I am troubled by an institution like the National Football League that allows such people to continue wreaking havoc. One might as well detain drug dealers for a short time and just give them a million dollars to poison lives in a different neighborhood.

But we (fans) have given fallen sports figures second chances over and over and over. We do not learn our lessons. We indulge criminals and destructive personalities and wonder what went wrong. However, I believe we need to imagine what would happen if we could do what Owens does in our own lives. We'd likely be fired the first time. Eventually we would not even be allowed in the business or field we pursued, no matter how talented we are. This isn't just about Owens getting away with something that I can't, but let's consider what this means. Already most children cannot distinguish the difference between families on television and the families they live with. Thus, I have seen child after child expect things from their parents and teachers that are outside the realm of reality in some cases or a outside the boundaries of a working society. More and more adults treat each other, their co-workers and bosses, their spouses according to the reality they prefer from situation comedies, soap operas, talk shows and pornography. What does it say about our world when a man can be criticized as a team wrecker, but continue to be allowed to rove about inflicting his damage? Those who get paid to criticize Owens and agent (or as I like to think of him, the demon without), may say that Owens shouldn't play or should be forced to behave, but they continue to give him attention. They continue to make sure that his face, his initials, his attitude are before us. We bitch, but we still pay him.

The infamous
Ty Cobb knew he could hold out for more money because people who loved him knew he was a great player. Those who hated would pay to boo him. Either way he and his team would win.

But I'm not paying any more. I'm taking my business elsewhere.

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