I’ve never played football. I don’t read the sport’s page. I’ve never read the sport’s page. In high school, it seemed that the sport served the purpose of turning boys, not into men, but into crazy men. And recent events in high school football (e.g., Steubenville, OH) prove what I’ve long believed: while football players act out sexually violent fantasies, these fantasies are not all violent . And more recently in Sayreville, NJ, (see BBC Story) football players have been accused of sexually assaulting younger players. And even more recently players on a Pennsylvania high school football team, the Central Bucks West High School, were accused of sexually molesting younger players. How are we to understand the relationship between violence in football and sexual violence, especially when it seems to often occur as collective action, that is, groups of players acting on younger boys?
I’ve only watched the Super Bowl two or three times in my life. I’ve never fully understood the desire and I marvel at how otherwise intelligent people watch and seem to enjoy the violence. I’ve asked many people why they watch; it never seems to provoke a rational or intelligent conversation.
Today, I read in the NY Times that the Detroit Lion’s football coach, Caldwell, does not yell at his players.
And Caldwell has a zero-tolerance policy for domestic violence. The press attributes recent success of the Lion’s team to Caldwell’s demeanor.
Is his a nonviolent action within a coterie of otherwise intrinsically violent acts? Does Caldwell not act as a kind of governor on the violent impulse? Is this an attempt to help young adults master these impulses? There’s a story in here somewhere. For now, I’m trying to imagine the coach in my high school. He had no way of taming his impulse. He wore the potential for violence in his gestures and in his expressions. In his gait you could feel his potential for swift and cruel action. His laugh too.