And so, a couple of quick football thoughts in anticipation of the bounty of TV-watching to come:
This fall I've been slowly savoring an inherited copy of Roy Blount Jr.'s story of living among the 1973 Pittsburgh Steelers, About Three Bricks Shy of a Load. What a gem of a book if you like football! Back then, before TV contracts had set cash flowing through the game to the present extent, players were unambiguously just the working stiffs in a grimly brutal public entertainment. Think something closer to Extreme Fighting than juvenile zillionaires like Alex Smith and whiners like TO.
Blount is at his best when he got the players talking about race. The white author was particularly close to black Steeler Mel Blount -- they joked that the sportswriter's ancestors had likely owned the cornerback's people. Author Blount noted the "small" indignities blacks encountered -- while white player were mobbed for public appearances, in 1973 after four years, Mel Blount had held one autograph session.
Player Blount took racism as just one more fact of life:
I have no way of knowing whether contemporary athletes -- not the superstars, the grunts -- are able to be so matter of fact about their profession. Do pick up a copy of this fascinating book if you run across one.
Meanwhile, guess what's next on the chopping block? Our sports circuses are not immune to a national economic bread shortage. NPR's Planet Money has a good run down of the effect of the recession/depression on professional sports. Here's the NFL story, not by any means the worst of it:
They didn't choose to investigate the effect on big time college football. I fear those delightful boondoggles may survive long after many students lose educational opportunity. On the more general picture: