As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Is There A Sporting Competition Today?

Before I sit down to another orgy of American football excess, I wanted to note this weird story claiming that the NFL is getting away from using military metaphors to describe the sport.

In a little-discussed shift in recent years, the NFL has moved away from depicting its games in military terms. While the league continues to embrace the military as an entity, inviting Gen. David H. Petraeus, the head of Central Command, to make the Super Bowl's opening coin toss and having the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds perform a pregame flyover at Raymond James Stadium, the NFL no longer endorses using military terminology to describe its contests.

It is inappropriate, league officials say, to do so at a time when American forces are fighting two wars halfway around the globe.

"It's a matter of common sense," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said as he stood outside the stadium the other day.

The same is true at NFL Films, an arm of the league that perpetuated for decades the image of football as controlled warfare by producing movies glorifying the game's violence with phrases like "linebacker search and destroy." In recent years the company's president, Steve Sabol, ordered all allusions to war be removed from its new films.

"I don't think you will ever see those references coming back," he said. "They won't be back in our scripts, certainly not in my lifetime."

Speaking as (in all likelihood) the only person in the political blogosphere who has worked for Steve Sabol and NFL Films, I can say unequivocally that he's full of shit. He never read a script in the time I was there, let alone make changes, and I'm virtually certain that continues today. Plus the script (which Sabol is probably lying about) is immaterial and inescapable; most of the combat-like terminology is embedded into the language of football (offense, defense, blitz, ground game, long bomb, etc.) It's the way in which the games are filmed, in super slo-mo with low angles, that glorifies and mythologizes and provides the lizard brain connections to war.

On a related note, do read Marcy Wheeler's great post about an actual warrior and former Arizona Cardinal, whose death was used by the military as a propaganda tool through deliberate lies. This is Pat Tillman's Super Bowl.

Enjoy the game.

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