Sassafras House is a land where the sports calendar matters, both in terms of playing and viewing. These days, JT is a runner and a wrestler, and I am there to watch and cheer him on. When it comes to watching sports, our first love is baseball, both the MLB and college baseball and softball. But we regularly make time for college basketball, both women and men, and for years we’ve watched college football and the NFL.
I believe in the power of sport to unite people, to provide enjoyment and excitement, to teach us all lessons about human achievement. I think that there are times when sports can transcend our individual identities to teach us universal human truths. For my son, sports and being part of a team has taught him lifelong lessons about the power of perseverance; it’s showed him that a work ethic matters. I encourage my middle school students to participate on teams and I go to their games. I’m enough of a fan that this Fall I taught a Middle School course on sports statistics and when the students in the course wanted to talk all NFL, all the time, I was a good sport about it.
My appetite for football has faded in recent years, largely as a result of the growing evidence that the sport is damaging to the brains of its players. The more I understand brain science, the more I find football uncomfortable. I’m glad that JT doesn’t play and in recent years I’ve watched less and less. I did pay attention to the NFL on the weekends after President Trump decided to attack Colin Kaepernick, because I respect Kaepernick and his actions. The spector of NFL players standing up to the president was appealing.
My respect for Kaepernick extended to the hope that he would once-again find employment in the NFL. I may not enjoy football as much as I once did, but Kaepernick wants to play and I respect him. The outcome of that story is well-known: no team in the NFL sought the services of Kaepernick and, as this article by Dave Zirin makes perfectly clear, the reason is obvious.
Read it for yourself and draw your own conclusions. For me, the conclusion is that NFL owners are a privileged, racist lot of men, the sort who want their fans to pay extra taxes for their stadiums, and otherwise spend our hard-earned money to line the owners’ pockets. They aren't looking to field winning teams as much as they seek a football universe on their terms, not ours. I am done with the NFL. I'm still a sports fan; I'm teaching sports statistics once again this Spring. This time, the course has a new title: "Baseball Statistics".