That's right, sorry to be the one to tell you ... Americans love violence. Oh yes, we feign outrage. We put warnings on movies and video games and maybe even trigger warnings on books. We are clearly offended by simulated violence. I could play Call of Duty (rated M for Mature) all day and then watch all the Die Hard movies (rated R for violence) and by the end, not a single person would have gotten hurt. Yet, a sport where people pound either causing bodily harm and in many cases brain damage, Americans welcome it into their homes every Autumn Sunday, no warning, rating or censorship. Simulate violence: bad. Real violence: a-okay.
How do football fans rationalize this? I can't say I know. They are experiencing cognitive dissonance perhaps. People seem to have an uncanny ability to compartmentalize what they call their beliefs from their actions. I once had a co-worker who used to claim he was a vegetarian then I'd go out to lunch with him at some of greasiest wiener joints in Providence and he'd not see a problem with this. I once went to lunch with friends who complained about tax loopholes throughout the meal and then take a receipt for our non-work related meal for his tax write off. When I pointed out to him that this write-off is a loop hole, he looked at me with complete confusion. We all know people like this, right? Like someone who complains about GMOs in her food or chemicals in her lawn, because they might cause cancer, as she smokes away at a cigarette. Among these cognitively dissonant friends, I put the person who claims that they abhor violence while wearing an NFL jersey. Football is violent. If you like football, you like violence. Admit it and move on.
Football is America's favorite sport. America loves violence. We have a history of violence, founded on violence. We were founded by a bloody revolution, a bloody civil war preserved us and bloody massacres expanded our borders for our Manifest Destiny. We all know this. Just admit America ... you love violence. Stop pretending that you don't. Denial is unhealthy.
I didn't always feel this way. When I was young, I thought I lived in a peaceful nation. I used to say, silly stuff, "there will never be another American war in our lifetime" and "after Viet Nam, we don't have an appetite for war." Then, in 1990, the first George Bush went into Iraq and people loved it. You'd ask them what they were doing for Friday evening, they'd said they were staying home and watching the war on CNN. They'd stop off on their way from work to get a pizza and a 12 pack and hurry to the comfort of their couch to watch the missiles hammer Baghdad. Peace loving folk. Maybe not.
I had a similar epiphany a few years ago when the reports came out about concussions and Repetitive Head Injury Syndrome in football, I thought, well that's it, no more football. We now have proof that long term brain damage is being caused by playing football for a long-time. Today, 1-3 NFL players will have some sort of brain injury in their lifetimes. We haven't stopped watching football after this information came out, of course not, if anything viewership has increased. The bloodier the better I guess. I still see people signing up their kid's for youth football. The trend continues.
As our daily news programs continues to report about brutality that these players commit off the field, the beating of a wife in an elevator or the hospitalization of a child from being hit with a stick, we have to wonder who is to blame? These guys were once very little boys, we told them to go hit someone hard. If you do it well enough, you might make a lot of money. Turn on the television and watch a few more games, drink a few more beers, eat a few more chips and watch those commercials. The violence you are buying is no longer only on the field or on the screen. How many more of these thugs do you need to turn off the television or change the channel. In a capitalistic society, demand is consent. If you stop demanding it, the supply will disappear.