Kris: “So, Murphy, did you hear the news?”
Murphy: “Not if I can help it. If it’s ‘news’, it’s toxic, and if it’s not toxic, it’s not news.”
Kris: “Then you missed it. Indianapolis is out of luck.”
Murphy: “What? What happened? Did a tornado wipe it out or something? It’s a little late for tornadoes, and way too early for blizzards!”
Kris: “No tornadoes. Or snowstorms. It’s a shitstorm. Their quarterback quit. Announced his retirement, walked off the gridiron field to a chorus of boos. Got most of the sports yahoos on radio, TV, the streams, and social media screaming Quitter! at him.”
Murphy: “So the boo-ers were boo-rish?”
Kris: “Argh. Go to your room.”
Murphy: “Ha ha. The reason for this, ah, retirement?”
Kris: “Injuries. Not willing to do a Peyton Manning, I guess.”
Murphy: “How old was this guy? 40?”
Murphy: “[…] He went to university?“
Kris: “Yeah …”
Murphy: “How the hell did he wind up with a degree that was actually worth the faux parchment it was printed on?!?”
Kris: “Um … Stanford? And how do you figure? Most of us wouldn’t be keen to be hated on by millions of people.”
Murphy: “He got a profit out of the gladiatorial arena, and bailed on it before it killed him! That’s how I figure! You know that I grew up in New England, right?”
Kris: “I do.”
Murphy: “And growing up in New England meant following the sport of ice hockey. I did. And I remember when none of the players wore helmets or masks. Or had teeth. Hockey pucks took them out. Goalies had it worst. This fellow Terry Sawchuk had a 16-year career as a goaltender, and, one time, a magazine got a makeup artist to show where the cuts were on his face, all 400 stitches worth. Or, most of them – he didn’t have enough face to show them all.
“In the ’60s, the goalies started wearing masks. Gerry Cheevers of the Boston Bruins had one of the most famous ones – on which he had a trainer draw stitches every time he reckoned that the mask saved him a cut or other injury.”
Kris: “And when the other players saw this, and realized that the masks would help them save face – literally – they all started wearing them.”
Murphy: “That they did not. Neither players nor fans were happy – because the masks get in the way of seeing the faces of the players, and then how could you tell who’s who?”
Kris: “Their uniform numbers? Their names on the uniforms?”
Murphy: “Not good enough. Could be anyone in those sweaters. Unless you – and the sponsors – can see the face.”
Kris: “So you play hockey, get your face torn to ribbons, get your teeth knocked out, and probably wreck your knees, to name three. Subjecting yourself to a lifetime of pain, suffering, and inconvenience. Why would you do that?”
Murphy: “Funny you should mention ‘lifetimes’. What’s the average lifespan of an American male of European descent today?”
Kris: “Hm. Searching … About 75 years.”
Murphy: “Yep. How about 1900?”
Kris: “Um … forty-seven?!?“
Murphy: “Uh huh. And what about those teeth? OK, a hockey puck takes them out before you’re 20. They were probably mostly rotten anyway. You may as well lose them while charging the net for an attempt at a rebound than just sitting at home feeling them rot.
“Of course you rack your body playing sports. Or at highly dangerous jobs. Civilian jobs, never mind military service. You do it, and suffer the consequences, because you’re not going to be around to put up with those consequences. And if you don’t do it, you go lower on the social totem pole and probably die soon anyway, from conflicts for living space, or the diseases associated with crowding, or poor nutrition. So you may as well go for the glory.
“Nowadays? When medicine is likely to give you a lot longer to put up with the consequences of racking yourself when you’re young, without actually being able to do much about those consequences? You want to be protecting your face, your teeth, your knees, your back while you’re doing that work, playing those sports. And if you can’t do that, for whatever reason, you have ample incentive to walk away. And if our university degrees were worth anything, the folk possessing them would be smart and knowledgeable enough to know these things, and behave accordingly. This macho crap from the sports guys is so 19th century. It’s pandering to the mob, and the mob should be ashamed of itself.”
Kris: “So you think that the football players taking early retirement to preserve their bodies (or what’s left of them), like Andrew Luck and Rob Gronkowski, are doing exactly the right thing?”
Murphy: “Belatedly, yes. It would have been even better for them to have never gotten into this miserable American excuse for football in the first place. And certainly not at the university! Tertiary institutions that run professional sports franchises – and if you’re competing for a spot in a bowl game, you’re running a professional sports franchise – are guilty of criminal exploitation of their ‘student’ athletes, and should have all public support, and all finances, withdrawn from them.”
Kris: “You mean, like our university?”
Kris: “So why haven’t we resigned our tenured faculty positions? By keeping them, we’re aiding and abetting the crime, aren’t we?”
Murphy: “[…] Why haven’t you opened that bottle yet, Kris? Dammit.”
Roman arena — gridiron: what’s the difference?
We are NOT better than our forefathers, in fact, we may be WORSE because we think we’re better.