Does Football Serve Any Useful Purpose?

Come on, I'm sure you've thought it too.

All those people in the audience? And then all the people watching at home? Think about what else they could accomplish with two-odd hours spent sitting around munching on chips, drinking beer, and yelling generically--not including the downtime spent just making the goddamn snacks and following those players all the way through the whole season, &c. &c.

And then think about the way intellectual pursuits are ignored in favor of a bunch of sweaty giants slamming into each other and running around because they really want a stretched and stitched pigskin hide. Despite Obama's efforts to give the sciences and in particular innovators their long-overdue recognition (how cool is it that he guested on Mythbusters?!), the fact remains that most of the country is glued to the television, if not by football than by other sports or useless entertainments. (Sure, I have a weakness for sitcoms. But I usually dualscreen, so one gets the show and the other gets doodles. Um, I mean work.)

Other countries don't, I think, have it quite as bad as the U.S.--nowhere else have I seen such a ridiculous profusion of sports bars--but it's hard to think of a rationale to continue organized sports.

Until, that is, you look at when they took off. The late 1800s, in addition to signaling the end of that era of human history where communications and mobility were limited to man- and beast power, also introduced leisure for not only the wealthy classes but also that weird little thing called the "middle class." Shortly after, massive wars devastated a significant portion of the world all the way through the mid-20th century.

I'm sure sports were a useful diversion from the tribulations of war, and also a way to prepare for the shit ahead if you were subject to the draft, but today--with a volunteer army that, though currently mired, is not going to be regularly marching around the country--one could see football as a great way of getting oversized, belligerent kids off the streets where they might commit crimes or terrorize the smaller members of the species. Of course, it's equally possible to say that all these people should be encouraged to join law enforcement or the military itself, but the attitude towards the local police force is less than positive in a lot of areas (consider what was going on in Chicago in the 1970s, or the LAPD at pretty much any time ever), and it's not like the military gets the best rap today. (Except, probably, the Marines. Semper Fi. Shit.)

But, while these guys are off the streets, what about their drunken rowdy fans? Even without the disorderly kind, one imagines the waste generated by these people creates enough of a mess to compensate for the one the football players aren't making. I suppose there's a benefit to the niche of the economy known as 'restaurant services', but it's not the most essential thing ever.

In general, football players make way too much money to justify their role in society. (The amount of press they get is ridiculous, but at least it's keeping the collective eyeball off that dumbass Jenny McCarthy.)

P.S. It's kind of hilarious that a Google image search for "super bowl" (no quotes) still turns up the "wardrobe malfunction" as one of its top hits.

P.P.S. If you came here looking for information about the 2011 game between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers...Packers won by all of six points, with this lovely fourth-quarter interception that just destroyed the Steelers' chance of tying the game. ;)

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