Monday, February 05, 2018

Does Trump hope to be hailed as "Slayer of American Football"?

Yes, yesterday's game was a truly great Super Bowl and we enjoyed it immensely.

But I haven't been watching much football this past season and not feeling much deprivation. When I think of the sport, I can't get out of the back of my mind that these magnificent athletes are probably damaging not only their bodies, but also their brains, for my entertainment. I know I'm not the only one. NFL ratings were down this season. Perhaps David Remmick's wistful musing which echoes my misgivings is correct.

Parents are asking the question once asked of boxing: Do you want your kids to play football?

This will not be the last Super Bowl any more than Ali–Frazier III was the last heavyweight-championship fight. But, just as boxing inexorably shifted to the margins of American life, this might be, for football, the start of the long eclipse.

Perhaps the POTUS sees the trend and amalgamates it with his own longstanding grievances, and sees a chance to grab credit for something that was going to happen without his intervention.

You see, for all his chumminess with some NFL owners today, Trump has a longstanding beef with the league. Thirty years ago he owned the New Jersey Generals of the United States Football League. USFL owners shelled out enough money to sign some quality football players. (San Franciscans should know that was where Steve Young got his start.) But they weren't the big time and could never be since they played in the spring, not the traditional fall season. Trump persuaded these rich men to sue the NFL. CNN tells the story:

Trump's plan? Convince his fellow owners to move the USFL's season to the fall.

But he also wanted to do something even more daring: Sue the NFL itself, alleging its stranglehold on stadiums and TV rights violated anti-trust laws.

The trial became a national sensation, with Trump himself taking the stand.

The NFL "portrayed him as the big powerful guy who was trying to take advantage of the poor little old NFL, you know: These guys are suffering. Donald Trump is beating them up. And that's the message that they got across to the jury," [former USFL Executive Director Steve] Ehrhart recalled.

But as the jury returned its verdict, it appeared Trump -- and the USFL -- had prevailed. The jury found against the NFL. But then the USFL owners read the entire 26-page decision.

The jury awarded them just $1 in damages.

Trump had been humiliated; the USFL went out of business like so many Trump businesses.

So perhaps when Trump blusters that football is "boring" because it has outlawed helmet to helmet hits -- and when he teaches his followers to think of players as uppity unpatriotic black billionaires -- he's just trying to position himself as the colossus that struck down what was once the dominant league in the dominant U.S. sport.

Since he has taken office, despite his unforeseen election, I think we can say that we've learned that Trump has not repealed the laws of political gravity. Responsible institutions and organized people continue to impede his whims.

Maybe his true talent has been to sniff out shrouded undercurrents and claim authorship. He intuited that racism and nationalism were ripe to be inflamed -- for his benefit. Might the NFL's decline be another such shocking, already ripe, opportunity to claim credit for something he merely latched onto? If so, this is far from the most significant of Trump's transgressions, but still an instance of a pattern worth noting.


Rain Trueax said...

People who consistently self-aggrandize eventually wear out their welcome. Trump needs some honest friends who can tell him the truth but bet he doesn't tolerate that and hence he's his own worst enemy.

We watched the game and enjoyed it especially since we didn't care a lot who won. It's neat though to see a backup quarterback and a team virtually put together on the run and then execute so well :)

What I didn't like was Timberlake's halftime show. I was no fan of boy bands when they were popular and had to wonder if he never got over being in one. Some of his performance was funny if you saw Rock of Ages and how it ridiculed that period in music.

I also wasn't much for the commercials though I've heard others liked a lot of them. I kind of felt like so what on most and a few seemed like a waste of what had to be a lot of money!

Celia said...

I didn't watch the game. Watching young men destroy each others bodies and brains for money is not what I want anymore. Gladiators that die. Reminds me of the circuses and bread of the ancient Romans.