Despite what those voices of dissent might say, there is a dominant religion in the United States. It’s not Christianity. It’s not even “social justice.” It has seemingly infinite reach, at least within American boundaries, so that even those that don’t want to be a part of it are in some ways forced to. You’ll hear about this religion all year, but it is in some ways a cult celebratory of the decline of the sun and the oncoming cold, and as soon as the summer wanes and the autumnal equinox looms, the ritual equipment comes out, and the adherents profess their fondest devotion. Yes, I’m talking about the National Football League.
The NFL is everywhere this time of the year. You simply can’t escape it. I’ll fully profess that I’m biased in this article, as I have a severe dislike of the NFL, not for the faux moral outrages of the week that maybe rocked the boat an inch last year, but for the virtues the league (not so much the sport itself) encourages its adherents to have – indolence, gluttony, a complete waste of emotional energy, and a caricatured, faux masculinity. All spectator sports convey these virtues to their audience to some extent, but the NFL leads the pack by a wide margin in the United States. I also strongly dislike how the NFL actually plays the sport, and I find it boring.
The conclusion is clear. If you want to be more productive, if you want to accomplish something more, if you want vitality back in your life, stop watching the NFL.
A Corollary of the American Dream:
There might be good reason to add the NFL to the prevailing narrative on how to live a good American life.
It goes something like this:
- Go to college.
- Get some corporate job.
- Get married.
- Go into debt to own a home.
- Watch the NFL and make sure you buy as much useless stuff as you can along the way.
Just like the rest, watching the National Football League as part of your lifestyle is, at best, a lie that will keep you from getting to greater heights. At worst, it will steal a ton of your life and a sizable amount of your money, just as any vampire or thief would, but the NFL is more sinister in that it will make you enjoy the process.
A Waste of Time:
To be sure, that’s a bit hyperbolic, but the effect is really the same. The biggest reason why you should stop watching the NFL is that it’s a massive waste of your time.
Each game is around three hours long. Actual game time is of course only an hour, but the NFL was so custom-fit for television that they center the game around commercials, which is a reason why advertisers pay the big bucks. In any given NFL game, you’ll probably be watching at least an hour of commercials.
Is this really the way you want to spend your time?
Additionally, the game itself is boring. I remember when I was a little kid and my father was trying to get me into baseball and football. I played baseball, so I was more naturally predisposed to the game, but football on TV bored me, though I enjoyed the game when I actually played it. I noticed a recurring theme, and no matter how old I got, that theme never disappeared.
The sequence went something like this – long pause, give the players the ball, play ends, replays up the wazoo, repeat.
Apparently, it wasn’t just me. Some astute observers have done a more thorough analysis and found that there was only around 11 minutes of total play in a typical NFL game, and even that’s most often a tackle after a “rush” for a few yards.
So that means out of 180 minutes of a National Football League broadcast, you’re only watching 11 minutes of “action.” The rest are replays, pauses, and commercials.
Is this really the way you want to spend your time?
In some respects, the massive time waste is subtly acknowledged by the fact that one of the rituals in the NFL religion, especially for its holy of holies, the Superbowl, is to enjoy the commercials. While I respect good advertising and good copy, and always seek to improve on that craft, sitting and watching commercials as some kind of enjoyable process is not what I have in mind (TV ads are incredibly low converting anyway).
Think about what you could be doing in those hours that you’re wasting, week in and week out, watching the National Football League. This is a great opportunity cost. During those hours, you can be building a business, going to the gym, talking to women, creating a product, or just damn taking a nice walk outside and clearing your mind of distracting thoughts.
I want to see some studies linking NFL intake to obesity. I believe that there would be a correlation.
Think about the foods that get promoted by the religion called the National Football League, and not just in the commercials, but in the general culture that surrounds the weekly series of masses called the games. Are they wholesome, healthy foods? No. It’s usually processed-to-death junk. Cheetos, pretzels, potato chips, and other crap. The ritual of the mass is to consume this for the hours spent watching replays and commercials egging you on to buy more junk.
To be fair, this is true for most other sports, but the NFL institutionalizes this to the highest degree.
Yeah, you can watch the National Football League and not take part in that particular ritual, but I just want to point out the perverse incentives. The NFL is part of the celebration of gluttony.
Waste of Emotional Energy:
This is a typical ad centering around the game:
Look at what they promote, or rather, the implications of it. Why are people so invested, so passionate about a mere sporting event? This is true of all sports of course, but we’re talking about the main perpetrator in the US here, the National Football League. I’ve been known to get overly excited with the Yankees in the baseball playoffs, but I realized some years ago that I was overinvesting in time and energy that could be put to better use. It’s important to have fun of course, but keep perspective.
(By the way, notice the subversive PC narrative at work in the ad as well.)
It’s certainly best not to institutionalize such frivolities like the NFL does beyond any other sport in the US. An entire culture of time wasting and emotional malinvestment is put into the NFL that is not put into the other main sporting leagues, and this brings me to the most important point…
Of all the offenses of the National Football League, this one rubs me in the worst way.
American, and Western, culture has been so stripped of masculinity, its expression becoming so gutted and so meaningless, that caricatures have filled the vacuum. The culture surrounding the NFL is one such caricature. In an attempt to express and reclaim masculinity, men have been sold this mere protracted spectator sport as a means of doing so.
Somehow we’re led to believe that watching somebody tackle somebody else is a good way to express your masculinity. Look at some of the fans. Look at the commercials showing men centering around this sport. Look at the chest bumps. The jerseys and paint are worn by fans almost as if they were battle regalia. Going out to the bars or simply having a party or watching TV on your own is essentially a ritual of going to the battlefield, to put your manhood to the test.
Masculinity is thus reduced to a laughable series of rituals involving a game played by other men.
But tackling someone, much less watching somebody else tackle someone, is not a proper expression of masculinity. It hearkens back to no tradition and offers no real challenge. The weakening of men is perfectly indicated by the NFL’s culture of faux masculinity.
I remember back when I was a kid I thought that being gung-ho about someone in the National Football League tackling someone else was “enjoying the action,” which allowed me to express a rambunctious masculine energy. It’s a lie, because behind it is simply a culture of passivity allowing the illusion of the expression of masculinity because of some ill-defined “action” in a remote place.
Other sports are again, guilty of fostering this culture, but the National Football League leads the pack in the United States.
We’ve all felt a rush of adrenaline at external things and that’s fine. I think that’s important in some ways to expressing yourself, finding your bearings, and establishing an ideal of what you envision yourself to be. But the National Football League institutionalizes faux masculine passivity as actual masculinity.
Much ado has been made about the surrender of the NFL to feminism and its pandering to women. Many have said this makes the National Football League much less enjoyable. I don’t disagree, but I think it was inevitable. In a culture that celebrates indolence, sloth, and promotes a false expression of masculinity as ritualized spectator event rather than an active and challenging identity, lifestyle, and beyond that, duty, it was bound to happen.
The National Football League never promoted masculinity, only a remote, caricatured version of it, glorifying in some ways the turning of men into children. It is therefore no surprise that women have begun to fill the vacuum, with the politically correct branding that is unfortunately wrapped up in contemporary feminine expression (an issue for another day).
To me, this is simply the final straw why men should stop watching the NFL.
If I have seemed somewhat extreme, I believe I stated my reasons very clearly for seeming so. I will admit that I am biased, as mentioned before, because I never took a liking to watching the National Football League and always found it boring. These arguments can easily be carried over to other sports, and if we were overseas I could say the same thing about events like the World Cup, which perhaps even exceeds the NFL in these rituals.
But in the United States, the National Football League is the main perpetrator of this sapping of vitality.
There are some positives to the culture. Things such as tailgate parties and going to bars for games allows you to socialize, meet new people, and maybe new women, and indeed, if you’re going to spend a large chunk of your time watching NFL games, you should be doing it this way.
But simply taking part in the spectator aspect of the sport is a horrible waste of your time. Think about how many hours of your life you’re wasting by watching the National Football League! Do something active and you’ll be amazed how much more productive your life will be.
I must confess that I spent a large portion of my time watching baseball and the Yankees up until a couple of years ago. I’m still a fan, I still pay attention somewhat, but I don’t watch constantly anymore, even with 2013 and 2014 being Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter’s last years, respectively.
Perhaps you can say that’s just a coincidence, but I believe that it isn’t. In addition to just simply using my time better, I’ve had to find other sources of energy and emotional investment. Sports can in some ways be seen as a dopamine rush. When your team wins, you feel elated, feeling like you accomplished something, when in fact, you have not. That’s a bad source of dopamine. It’s a false sense of accomplishment. Video games do the same thing.
But the National Football League elevates this false sense of accomplishment to a religion, institutionalized in the US beyond the other sports or video games.
Stop watching the NFL (unless you bet in fantasy leagues). I guarantee you will find new vitality by forcing your dopamine intake and motivation toward other sources.