After Monday night’s game featuring the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons, former NFL quarterback and current commentator Steve Young had this to say about the replacement referees currently filling in for their striking counterparts:
“Player safety? Doesn’t matter in this case. Bringing in Division III officials? Doesn’t matter. Because in the end, you’re still going to watch the game…there’s nothing that changes the demand for the NFL. So they want to break the union or send a message to them, they don’t care about player safety. It doesn’t affect the desire for the game. If it affected the desire for the game, they’d come up with a few extra million dollars.”
The cold hard dollar and America’s addiction to football are realities in today’s sports world. But it goes beyond replacement refs. It has to do with the NFL’s issues with regard to players’ health and safety (read: concussions) even when the game is played under the best conditions. It has to do with the vast amounts of money tied up in advertising and television contracts that make the sport sacrosanct. It has to do with hordes of rabid fantasy football fans that care more about the numbers on their computer screen and the bragging points they can get after a good week than the actual human beings that create those numbers. Football is our new god.
Panem et circenses. The NFL is rapidly becoming victim to the worst parts of cold capitalism and a base human nature that would rather be entertained than consider reality. For many in America, football (and/or sports in general) is transforming into the only religion that really matters. So let us together call it what it often is: a garish, greed-based, gladiatorial idol. We forget, of course, that football as sport is supposed to be re-creation, not actual Creation or the Creator Himself.
For all these reasons….perhaps, my friends, it is time to considering ending it–for our own good. That’s slowly becoming my fantasy.