|painting by Adrian Tans|
Football. I really like football. Even more so when it's being played nearly perfectly like my boyfriend Tom Brady did last night. But there are certain things I just can't stomach about the game. I covered a few of them a while back in the this post Sports are violent, athletes are idiots, and fans are boors. Who cares? Sports rule.
Particularly problematic for me is the whole "Professional sports are misogynistic and homophobic and nationalistic" problem, because, to be honest, sports fans, and football fans in particular, are the worst people in the world. Just take a look at this scenario that went down at the New York Jets versus Dallas Cowboys game the other day in New Jersey, when Leroy McKelvey was arrested for using a stun gun on another fan. (On 9/11 by the way. Have you no decency, sirs?)
So far, so boorish and violent, right? But it's the motivation for the fracas that concerns me more. Something called Cliffview Pilot (via Deadspin) has the details.
"A Marine at the end of the row noticed that McKelvey and three others in his party would not stand or take their hats off for the national anthem," a law enforcement officer told CLIFFVIEW PILOT. "So the Marine tells McKelvey he better not have to get out of the row cause he won't let him out."
Sure enough, during the halftime show, McKelvey got up. Words were exhanged.
Kind of hard to choose who to side with here, on account of everyone being a violent douche. But it reminded me of a similar incident I had, a story I trot out every time something like this happens at a football game. Sadly I've had a lot of chances to tell it, like in this piece from last year Why the "blue collar" New England Patriots are really the NFL's Most Republican Football Team, which, come on, should have been way more of a thing.
"You know what happened last time I went to a Patriots game? I basically got called a treasonous commie by all the people in the stands around me when I didn't support the troops hard enough with some phony gesture or another.
...It makes sense that in our sporting temples, where people are buzzed on competition, patriotism has been celebrated above all else. But unlike sports, politics and national interest have no defined boundaries. Their reality is arbitrary, messy and cruel.
I experienced this firsthand at Gillette Stadium two years ago. Neglecting to stand for some display of nationalistic pride, I found myself demonized by a group of overly concerned citizens. Perhaps they took the name of the home team too literally.
An unassuming, middle-aged woman transformed into a guardian of groupthink, and barked out marching orders: "Stand up. Why won't you stand up?" You'd have thought I'd denounced capitalism in French, then wrapped a bald eagle in an American flag and set it on fire.
I have as much respect for the military as the next guy, if the next guy is a terrorist-loving freedom-hating liberal. Obviously it's a hard job and etc etc etc, and thanks for keeping the barbarians at the gate or whatever, but if you need me to stand up and pretend to respect some fairy tale concept about George Washington being nailed to the cross for our hamburgers every time I want to go watch a football game, and my not doing so somehow makes everything you've dedicated your life to less meaningful, then I don't think you're doing the whole America thing right.
Wonder how the right to bear arms crowd is going to come down on this one? A stun gun is still a gun, no? *Checks McKelvey's melanin level* Oh. Right.