Let me preface this by saying I am not trying to write an article. I simply had a thought and decided to run with it, in an attempt to generate discussion. I am not a sports writer, nor am I skilled in breaking down play. If John Morgan is the brain of this blog, then I am the libido.
How many times have we heard the comparison of football to warfare: over/under three times a Sunday? I was listening to Rich Eisen's inaugural podcast, with guest Ray Lewis. During the interview, while explaining how he gets "psyched" for a game, the Chaplain of the NFL said "On the field it's battle...I just got a text from Double J saying that 'it's an honor to die at my side', that's men, you know, creating relationships!"
My initial reaction was: Wai-what? Who is the last player to die on the football field in the NFL? Let's not blow this out of proportion Ray-Rave; you're playing a game, not taking Bunker Hill. This isn't a fantasy, you can't blow up Saturn in real life. If Football is war, then Chess is war. The parallels of course are easy to draw.
--There is a gameplan involved, a strategy to help you defeat your oponent.
--The Home Team is defending their fortress from a 53-man horde of savage athletes, who have come into their city state to lay waste to their season.
--The contact is physical, brutal, and takes a measurable toll on a body.
--Look at the vernacular: blitz, trenches, Field General, bombs, gunslinger.
All-in-all it is not so unlike warfare is it? I played football in Pop Warner (Jaguars), then Middle School (Hawks), then High School (Cougars), and finally one year of college (Vikings). There were fellows on my teams that I had absolutely nothing in common with outside of football, but the game was enough. On a sports team (especially one like football, where so much of your success depends on the people surrounding you) there is a level of masculine intimacy built that you only see clearly portrayed in war movies, or buddy cop shows. It always seemed natural for us to reference it as such. Maybe because we had nothing else to base it off of.
As I got older, and the level of testosterone my body produced declined (that's a lie, I'm 25. My testosterone levels are alive and well), I realized that this is a pretty ridiculous assertion. Football is nothing like war. I once got punched in the neck at Autzen while 1.8 million people screamed for my family's blood, but that does not compare to the rigors of war--does it?
Really, I have no way to answer this question. Sure, I've played football for (at most) a shitty D2 school that periodically got blown out by Montana, but I've never been in a war. Thus, I was forced to ask a friend of mine what he thinks about NFLers reveling in the comparison of Professional Football to Professional Warfare.
Nate was once a Sergeant in the Army Rangers. He had 7 confirmed kills at Kandahar, and 2 more while assisting Australian Special Forces in a city he won't tell me the name of. Nate is now working on a degree in Accounting, because that is the best way to get into the FBI. Nate played football for Wisconsin. When I asked him the above question, it turned into a long discussion. Part of his answer was this:
"...I'll use hiking. Say there are these two mountains, both are the exact same height, I mean to the inch. Both are ludicrously high, more high than a sane person should want to handle, and both have just a nut-busting grade to them. You start hiking your mountain, and it's just craggy as hell. You're having to dodge these obstacles, scale these cliffs. You have to tip-toe on this cliff, all the while just looking down, preparing yourself to slip and die. You have to overcome all this shit, and you know that if you fail at all, if you let it down even one notch, then everyone you love will be raped and murdered. You know this because you have someone telling it to you constantly, and you have believe every word of it, you have to, or else there is no way you climb this mountain.
You finally reach the peak of your mountain, after the worst hike of your life. It was so bad, some of the people you started with couldn't make it all the way up. Then you look over at the other mountain; you see that it had a path right up to the top, with plenty of switch backs. Sure, it was still hard as shit, but there was no real danger of you being hurt. Now you see a bunch of people standing on the top of it, high-fiving each other, and talking about how hard their mountain was, how much sweat and blood it took to get there.
How would you feel?"
I would be not happy.
Is the football player a modern gladiator? Sure, I can buy that. Would I like to see the Seahawks invade 31 towns in the USofA and wreck their shit? Obviously. Is comparing football to war fair? Probably not, no, but I like doing it. Just as I enjoy playing Halo, and Cops n' Robbers. What do the rest of you Twelves think?