The NFL's Role in Society

ARLINGTON TX - FEBRUARY 06: The Green Bay Packers celebrate defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 31 to 25 in Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6 2011 in Arlington Texas. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

½ the population of the United States tuned in for Super Bowl XLV. Think about that number. That includes the people who couldn't watch the game, working at your local pizzeria and grocery store. That includes the doctors in the emergency room, the police on duty, the traveling businessman and the guy broken down on the side of I-287 who would all love to be watching the game.

I cannot think of another activity this country does as a whole that is as practiced as the ritual we have made out of the Super Bowl. Okay, maybe Christmas wins by a hair. Or does it?

As our country is still finding its way out of this recession and a war continues on in the Middle East, a 9 year old girl is shot down in a local mall in Arizona. Jobs are lost by the thousands, family and friends are shipped to Iraq, once-retired couples are forced to sell insurance to make ends meet and try to pay for medications they can't afford.

As bad as things can get in our country and throughout the world, sports and the NFL provide an outlet that allows us to escape our problems for a few hours. We can focus on issues about sports and care so deeply about things that amount to, well, absolutely nothing. If the Jets were to win the Super Bowl, would your life REALLY change? You would be in a good mood for about a week or so, and then you'll lose $3000 in the stock market one day to erase such fond feelings.

Or is it really about winning a championship? Perhaps it is about the journey; the ability to focus our thoughts into a fantasy realm of rich athletes we call the NFL. This league is like a drug; except it won't ruin you private life and cost you all of your money (unless you bought PSLs).

Read on after the jump:

 I turn on Mike Francesca on most afternoons, even though I know he is slightly anti-Jets because they won't allow him to interview Jets players. We all know that. But his ratings are through the roof. Why? We love to invest our emotions in something that has no physical impact on our lives. I hear the listeners call in saying they have been listening for 30 years or whatever, even though their team has not won a single title in that time. Their passion is just as strong, if not stronger, as it was back then.

You can love the Jets or any team you want, no matter how bad they are. You can care about them as much as you want or you can be a casual fan. You can study draft prospects even though you have absolutely no impact on the player your team drafts (like myself). There are ta lot of alternatives to our realities, some more harmful than others. I would consider following the NFL as harmless of an addiction as possible.

As the season exits stage left and the offseason schedule beckons, there is the demon in the form of the CBA that threatens to end this great tradition. There is nothing a fan, coach, executive, analyst or anyone else can do to make this go away. To deal with the uneasiness that will reside in the back of our minds over the next few months, I recommend that you just almost ignore the issue altogether; yes, read the updates and keep track of what it going on, but don't worry about what is going to happen to player x or whether the franchise tag is coming back. Life is too complex to throw yourself into that kind of mess.

So try to enjoy your first football-free sunday, and let's hope we can keep these to a minimum.


Here's a little video I made a while ago. Enjoy.

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