But as a lockout between NFL players and owners drags on, the only thing I want from the 2011 NFL season is for it to go away. That’s right: a year without football. Our country would be better for it.
During the lockout squabble, I’ve been reminded that football is fine entertainment and premier distraction, but it’s just that: entertainment and distraction. Several years ago, the Bears’ first game of the year fell on my mother’s birthday. wholesale nfl jerseys from china All she wanted was an afternoon stroll at the Indiana Dunes and dinner. Not too much to ask from the person who gave you life. But it left a stark choice: treat my mother to her minimal birthday request or whine like a baby. I opted for both. We had a fine afternoon, but I was half distracted, wondering if the Bears would win a meaningless game in another season when they wouldn’t win the Super Bowl.
I tell that story to make a simple point: a year without football would liberate us all. The game has invaded and, to a degree, overwhelmed our culture. For five months, we discuss it at the water cooler and the bar. We listen to grown men analyze and agonize over it on AM radio. We monitor our fantasy teams with devotion our significant others would be lucky to get. We spend our money on it like few other sports (the 10 best selling sports jerseys in America come from the NFL). From September through the Super Bowl, we are one nation under football. It might even be more popular than that other thing people do on Sundays.
Yes, the games are entertaining and there is value in identifying yourself as part of a community. But it seems we’ve forgotten a simple truth: which team wins a football game doesn’t matter (or hockey game, Vancouver rioters). I’ve come to loathe LeBron James as much as anyone, but when he lashed out at his critics following the Miami Heat’s loss in the NBA finals «They have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today; they have the same personal problems» he was right.
Sports don’t change our lives in any meaningful way. That’s why I say: Let us live a year without the king of them all. Imagine what can be done with those liberated Sunday afternoons, Monday nights and hours lost to perusing the fantasy waiver wire. Teach your kid to ride a bike. Take up exercise so you don’t drop dead of a heart attack at 65. Learn to brew beer or cook the perfect chili. Those things will give back far longer than any Bears win.
Should you think my heresy deserves a one way ticket to Canada, even some football players see opportunity in football’s absence. Since the lockout began, according to the New York Times, Atlanta Falcons running back Jason Snelling has obtained his automobile dealer license and started hunting for, and selling, high end used cars.
«I don’t say this lightly, but in a way, the lockout has been good, in the sense where it gives you an opportunity to look past football,» Snelling told the Times. «I want to play. But you have to look at the positive.»
Snelling is a model for us all unlike Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who only cemented my wish for an NFL hiatus when he told an ESPN reporter, «Do this research: if we don’t have a season, watch how much evil, which we call crime, watch how much crime picks up, if you take away our game.»
Such sentiment seems strange from a person once indicted for murder (though convicted only of obstruction of justice). Asked why he thought crime would increase if Americans were not able to watch large men throw, carry and kick a ball across a 100 yard field, he said: «There’s nothing else to do.»
I fear that too many people agree, but I promise those people that there is plenty to do. We’ll be better off without football for a year if we make it a point to be. After that we’ll be better still if the Bears whip Green Bay on their way to a Super Bowl win.