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Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 18,883

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I'm Going to Offend a Bunch of NFL Fans (Maybe all of them...)

Also to be offended: Players, players' families, team owners (but who the hell cares about them), team employees like coaches, front office people, etc.

Oh, and probably a good many NCAA Football fans, and the coaches, employees, and alumni of those schools.

But here goes, anyway:

Kill it.

It has morphed into a terrible "sport."

Mind you, my stepfather had season Vikings tickets when I was a kid, and I thought it was fun to go to the games back at the old Met Stadium, tailgating in the snow, bringing along our "stadium bags" to snuggle into, and thermoses full of hot cocoa (coffee laced with booze for the grups), and watch Tark and Alan Page and Foreman and Marinaro and Carl Eller run rings around some poor schmucks whose idea of "bad weather" was a little rain.

Back in those days, though, linemen generally averaged in the 250-260 lb. range (yep, there were some bigger- and a good many smaller, too-) and around 6'3" - 6'4". They were big guys, sure. But nothing like today's behemoths.

Also back in those days, the college athletes were more about getting an education as well as playing their way through. Alan Page graduated Notre Dame, went to law school while he was playing for the Vikings and is now an Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. And while head coaches at major college programs have always been well-compensated, in 1981 Michigan's Bo Schembechler (at the time the highest-paid college head coach) took home the equivalent (in 2014 dollars) of $285,771.

In 2017, Alabama's Nick Saban banked $11.1 million in compensation.

People got hurt playing football back then- there were some nasty ones, indeed. But we didn't know about CTE. And mortality studies of players from the 50s, 60s, and 70s show longer post-career lifespans with fewer health complications related to their football careers.

Back then, it was still a sport, more or less. Sure, the league and the owners made a lot of money and the network broadcast contract pretty much kept ABC in business. But in the days before the casino gambling boom, before Fantasy Football and high-stakes betting, the stakes were a lot lower.

Football was a path for young black men who had both intellectual and athletic abilities to break through the walls. They knew damn' well they were being exploited, to an extent (I recall Carl Eller telling a roomful of fans about hearing a (white, of course) UCLA alum tell a (also white, of course) Minnesota alum at the Rose Bowl "You're gonna have to watch our >n-word<s beat the tar right out of your >n-word<s." But the ratio of risk to return was a little better.

What is football now?

It's a high-stakes, big-money form of gladiatorial combat, stoked by media oligarchs, and dependent on the desperation of young athletes willing to risk their health and sanity in a game that's become far more brutal, far more physically debilitating to play. We're seeing signs of CTE in High School football players, now.

Young men willing to put their bodies and brains into a crushing mill, from an early age, to be winnowed through High School and College competition, to make a chance at one of a couple of hundred draftees, to get yet another chance to not be cut and hopefully stay on a roster, get some playing time, get a marginally better contract and a chance at one of those million-dollar salaries.

And while they're doing that- pounding hell out of their bodies and brains, ensuring themselves a future of pain and confusion and an early death, they get the "privilege" of being part of a milieu that enables and encourages brutality, domestic violence, and extreme behaviors of many other damaging kinds.

While the owners and media barons get wealth beyond the dreams of avarice.

And when the players stand up for themselves, when they make a push to be something more than the docile human tanks they're expected to be, they're vilified, fined, and punished.

This is not a game.

This is the bread-and-circuses of a post-democratic authoritarian oligarchy.

Its time is over. Its real value to everyone but the media oligarchs and league owners is gone.

And it should die.


I Call It "Leetsplaining". And I'm Done With It.

A discussion began on a blog I follow: Reader Request Week 2018 #6: The Fall(?!?!?) of Heinlein

(Capsule summary for those who missed the last 20 years of posthumous literary dissection of RAH --aka "Robert A. Heinlein"-- and his ouevre: He started writing Sci-Fi stories in the 30s and 40s, became something of a phenomenon in the 50s with popular YA-oriented Sci-Fi novels, hit the Cultural Fooforaw jackpot in the 1960s with "Stranger In A Strange Land" and kept on writing a buttload of novels.

Many of his novels were controversial in their depictions of alternate histories, societies, etc., based on ideologies and concepts that ranged from hippie-lefty-libertarianism to anarcho-libertarianism to rightwing neo-fascist authoritarianism with a libertarian cherry on top. His depictions of women have been widely criticized as misogynistic in the extreme, and much discussion has focused on evidence of racism and white supremacy in his framing of cultures and characters. But even many of his most passionate detractors grant his storytelling expertise and his influence on speculative fiction and storytelling. He remains popular, his books still sell.)

I put in my two cents' worth on the discussion. I'd read and enjoyed some of RAH's oeuvre, then I ran across "Farnham's Freehold" which slammed every "squick" button I had, even at a much younger and less-philisophically-developed age. And that was more or less the end of my enjoyment of the RAH oeuvre, with one or two exceptions.

But people started talking about "Farnham's Freehold" ("FF" ) and it was pointed out that no, no, people who thought it was racist, misogynist dreck were all wrong, it was SATIRE (or maybe "zany madcap humor" or something.) And how RAH, in spite of his quite freely expressed embrace of white supremacy, was actually making a courageous stand on behalf of civil rights in a time before the great victories of the Movement.

Thing is, none of the folks carefully providing their highly enlightened literary interpretation of RAH and his underlying motivations, themes, and accomplishments in "FF" mentioned being African American, and, I strongly suspect, none of them were.

Which meant they were Leetsplaining.

Leetsplaining happens when guys tell women about how some misogynist fuckery isn't really all that reprehensible because (insert pseudo-concerned/reasonable/intellectual WHARRRGLLLE here.) Or when white people analyze for black people why "all lives matter" can't be racist because (insert pseudo-concerned/reasonable/intellectual WHARRRGLLLE here.) Or when straight people provide copious philosophical and ideological glosses on why opposing gay marriage isn't an expression of actual homophobia because (insert pseudo-concerned/reasonable/intellectual WHARRRGLLLE here.)

Or when people without any kind of physiological or cognitive impairment or challenge present the case for why making public facilities accessible just isn't reasonable because (insert pseudo-concerned/reasonable/intellectual WHARRRGLLLE here.) Or when cisgendered individuals defend other cisgendered individuals' (rarely their own-- isn't that peculiar?) "right" to be squicked out by trans people because (insert pseudo-concerned/reasonable/intellectual WHARRRGLLLE here.)

Let me be very clear, here: I'm not saying that white readers and fans of RAH have no right to have, or express, an opinion of "FF" that differs from mine. Had such a reader responded with, "Well, I didn't read it that way, it felt like satire to me," well, fine. Your experience, your opinion. We can happily discuss why we think each other are deluded without ever hitting leetsplaining territory.

But when that reader presumes, from their place of omniscience and, very likely, shared privilege with RAH (who was, well, yeah... caucasian, duh) to analyze and explain why "FF" isn't actually racist, it's kind of a classic example of leetsplaining.

And I have to say, I'm done with that shit. In all its forms. I expect to be called on it if I do it.

To be ultra-ultra-ultra clear: As someone who's been negatively affected by misogyny, I will identify misogyny, describe it, and call it out. I may even take it upon myself to dismiss something others who do not share the experience of being negatively affected by misogyny claim to be offensively misogynistic as not offensive. Ditto on other kinds of shit that's negatively affected me because I don't enjoy the privilege of an exclusively heterosexual orientation or the privilege of never experiencing mental illness and its stigma and consequences. None of that is leetsplaining.

But if I, who enjoy the privilege of a melanin deficiency, decide to explain why something isn't really racist, I am leetsplaining. Call me on that shit.

And if someone who does not have a melanin deficiency but who DOES have a Y chromosome decides to expound on the whys and wherefores of how something makes it okay to treat someone without a Y chromosome as less than fully human, and I call them on that leetsplaining, I am not speaking from my privilege as melanin-deficient, but from my lack thereof in respect to not having a Y chromosome.

This shit gets complicated fast, I know. But the essentials are fairly clear: If you enjoy some type of privilege, then analyzing, dissecting, and/or deconstructing oppression against others who do not enjoy that privilege in any way that contradicts or invalidates their experience with that lack of privilege becomes leetsplaining. And it makes you look like an ass.

Expressing an opinion based on your privilege may make you look a bit ignorant and unenlightened. I have done this, and learned from it. I think everyone does. But asserting some kind of Higher Knowledge of What Really Is and bloviating thereupon with an assertive assumption that You Have The Real Answer? That's leetsplaining and it puts you squarely in "asshole" territory.

And all of the foregoing is, of course, my opinion.

See what I did there?

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