A football girl’s dilemma


I am a football girl (a long-time, long-suffering but ever hopeful diehard Bears fan) who cheered last night’s win over the Jets on Monday Night Football. GO BEARS!

I am also a woman, a feminist even, horrified and disgusted by the Ray Rice video and the subsequent alleged cover up by the Ravens organization.  Rice isn’t the only batterer, of course.  He is just more famous because he played in the NFL. Perhaps only boxer Floyd Mayweather is more notorious now for his female-punching ways.

Yet I still watch football.  I’m conflicted, but I watch.  Other sports, like hockey (Go Hawks!), just don’t have this kind of swirling controversy, misogynistic or otherwise.  The NHL, though, is small potatoes compared to the behemoth NFL.

The recent NBC News/Marist poll showed 86% of fans haven’t changed the amount of professional football they watch.  That means that 14% that have stopped watching, or are watching less.

The problem isn’t NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.  He didn’t punch Rice’s fiancée in the face, knocking her unconscious. This is just the most recent NFL black eye (ugh, sorry) which reveals a deeper, disturbing, systemic malignancy now dragged into the sunlight by the press and social media.

Yet I still watch football. It’s a dilemma for me, and others, I’d bet. The NFL counts on this cognitive dissonance, or holding two opposing views at the same time, to keep the money rolling in.  George Orwell called it double-think.  Football is good AND football is bad.

The problem is the “bad” is piling up.  Let’s look at just the past ten years:

– Concussions.

– Brain damage – Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE.

– Multiple suicides of retired players (including beloved Bear Dave Duerson in 2011) suffering from CTE.

– Multiple players going to prison – former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez now a current convicted murderer. Michael Vick served time for dog fighting.

– Animal abuse

– Drug abuse

– Gun charges

– Rape charges

– Domestic violence

– Child abuse

Holy crap (pun intended).  That lump under the rug is a small mountain now. And it stinks.

As part of the forty percent of female NFL fan base, I’m a football girl teetering on the edge.  I love the game.  I hate the reprehensible actions of some players.  Although I speak only for myself, I know I am not alone.  Many fans, men and women, are teetering, too.

NFL, clean your $10 billion dollar house.  Quickly. Show us you care about the integrity of the sport, not just the money. Show us that you actually want to put a stop to your players’ reckless, violent, illegal behavior and not just to bad publicity. Draw a line.  Enforce it.

The mountain of sh*t is rising. The stink can no longer be ignored. Our patience is waning.  We want to stay with you. Give us a reason.  Fix it.  We love our (insert your fav NFL team name here) but our love isn’t blind.

Football is not the only game in town.