Breaking-up is hard to do

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Football. I. L-O-V-E. It.

Growing up, I learned to love football as part of my household chores. Nearly every Saturday and Sunday I ironed my dad’s shirts and hander kerchiefs in our basement standing in front of our black and white television with not one but four channels! During the fall and winter that meant there was a lot of football to be watched while ironing.

In the watching and the ironing, I learned the basics of the game. Beyond the basics, I got bit by the excitement and the rituals of football from the fans’ colorful and amusing couture, to the teams’ fight songs, to the last-second heart-pounding touchdown wins.

My love for football became even stronger during my Centerville High School (Ohio) years watching the mighty, mighty Elks play – my high school team only lost one time during my four-years. In stark contrast to the next four years cheering the Purdue Boilermakers better known for engineering than football!!!

Truth is, I’ve been slowly breaking up with football over the last few years.

The seedier aspects that I had long imagined were probably associated with football, I shoved to the back of my mind. Once the Penn State Jerry Sandusky scandal broke (former assistant Penn State coach originally charged with 52 counts of child sexual assault, found guilty of 42 charges and now serving prison time), I could no longer ignore the seedier sides of what was happening in football at the college level let alone on the national level.

Over the last several weeks the headlines have once again been filled with the seedier side of football: Baltimore Raven Ray Rice’s domestic violence assault; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s silence regarding the Rice incident followed by his bungled press conference; Florida State University, Heisman-winning, sophomore quarterback Jameis Winston’s unfortunate on-campus comments this past week in a year that for him has included a sexual assault complaint.

In reading Sara Shoup’s courageous voice in her blog post entitled “Dear Jameis Winston” I realize there’s still the opportunity to love the game of football while advocating for a multitude of challenging issues that unfortunately seem to be indigenous to the game of football.

How have you stayed in-love or fallen out-of-love with your favorite football teams?

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kay
    Sep 21, 2014 @ 21:19:27

    From sports, to business, and even religion, when money or reputation is at stake, the worst of human nature can come out and improprieties swept under the rug. There will always be good guys and bad guys…you can still root for the good ones.

    I haven’t cared about football one way or the other – golf was always on at our house – but the memory of ironing my dad’s handkerchiefs came back to me and made me smile. Thanks, Linda!

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    • Linda R Neff
      Sep 22, 2014 @ 11:00:32

      That’s a good reminder Kay – we can and need to root for the good guys!

      There was quite a ritual in ironing my dad’s handkerchiefs. I would lay them out flat and stack about 8 of them. The next step was to sprinkle water in between the layers, jelly roll them and wrap them in a tea towel. The roll would then be placed in the refrigerator for several hours prior to them being ironed. I can still remember how wonderful those dampened handkerchiefs smelled when ironing them and what satisfaction I had when each one was complete! I never minded ironing because it was a way to show my intense love for my father!

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  2. garyhollander
    Sep 22, 2014 @ 05:56:23

    Breaking up was not hard for me. I didn’t love football at any time. Oh, I attended a half dozen high school games and maybe three college games. I never watched an entire televised NFL game and have turned down a Packers ticket.

    (Complete disclosure: I can say the same about my limited connection to all professional and televised sport except for a period of 20+ years when I watched Olympic telecasts. A childhood of bullying and social exclusion as a gay boy, teen, and young adult did not propel me to sports. I did participate in track and still run regularly, but I don’t watch track on TV. In regard to ironing, while I did iron a few of my dad’s handkerchiefs and tee-shirts, I did so less frequently than my sisters or mother. I was, however, expected to do my own ironing sometime before age 10.)

    The news in recent weeks about NFL players and their league have shocked and disappointed many. Not me. I have wondered for decades about the practice and support for brutality for entertainment. I have asked when the collective bubble of denial will pop, the denial that this is no longer sport but violent entertainment that makes a few people enormously wealthy. One only need look at the NFL defense against addressing the scores of brain injuries inflicted on the field to see the greed behind it. For how many years have we known that there are spikes of domestic violence on Super Bowl Sunday?

    But last week I could feel my blood pressure rise when I was reminded of the NFL’s nonprofit tax status. Please don’t tell me that Las Vegas casinos, bars, Nintendo, Facebook, and porn shops are nonprofits, too. Because, in most ways, professional football and these other entities have more in common than they do with recreation, physical activity, or play. They have become the circuses of Rome and Berlin, distracting us from war and poverty and abuse and neglect.

    That the NFL and professional sport takes up all this bandwidth in our lives bothers me. The joy of movement, cooperation, and creativity is lost in them. And in us when we remain by their side.

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    • Linda R Neff
      Sep 22, 2014 @ 10:52:42

      Gary thank you for your wise words. There are so many important lessons in what you’ve written.

      Today I’m going to especially hold on to your words that carry the lesson of “the joy of movement, cooperation and creativity.” It is through experiencing these joys that we begin to fuel our individual and collective abilities to be the change we want for the world.

      Thank you for being a role model who consistently brings relentless joy to your work and your life – you are an inspiration!

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  3. garyhollander
    Sep 22, 2014 @ 06:14:05

    Oh, and then there is nutrition:

    Yesterday I stopped at the market after kick-off apparently. Serenity itself reigned in the store. Shelves were being stocked. Produce was being arranged and watered. I eavesdropped on this exchange at checkout:

    “Seems quiet here.”
    “It wasn’t an hour ago. People were racing around and pushing to get beer, chips and cheese trays.”
    “You make it sound hostile.”
    “It was. And unhealthy.”

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  4. Deborah Hobbins
    Sep 22, 2014 @ 10:06:47

    Grew up when girls were thought not capable of “understanding” such a “complex” game. Was a young woman when football was seen as a silly game and academics were most important. What I now appreciate about football is you can go to the hardware store when there is a game on and have it mostly to yourself. I dislike the game very much mostly because people think it is way more important in our world than it is or should be. How do you like that?!!!!!!!

    Sent by iPhone.

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