The NFL lockout might end today, as some have predicted. It also might not. It’s just as likely to continue through Friday and into the following week. Chester Pitts says two more weeks until a deal gets done. The lockout, of course, could still conceivably go on forever, becoming a permanent unfortunate fixture of the human condition, like war, disease and jam bands. Hell, the lockout might have ended any of the past 127 days. It didn’t. But reports that players and owners are readying to vote on acceptance of a comprehensive deal certainly makes it seem as though we’re on the cusp of getting football again. More so than the last dozen times we’ve been on the cusp.
F*ck and yes.
The lifting of the lockout, in addition to providing for a full NFL season, will set forth a dizzying succession of trades and signings, transforming the usually plodding month of August into a delightful frenzied madhouse of activity. A veritable freeagentkkake, as it were. We can also get back to the business at hand of calling Jay Cutler a sulky, quitty bitch. If there’s a downside to that scenario to be found, it’s that some members of the media, mainstream and independent, will attempt to shame football fans for being overjoyed that the 2011 season was spared. “How can you just gleefully flock back to them,” they’ll ask trollishly, “after they saddled you with months and months of torturous anxiety?” Others will suggest that the NFL simply doesn’t deserve to resume without some form of blowback from the public.
This premise is not only facile, but ignores the basic dynamic that exists between the NFL and its fans, which is that fans get fucked and stay fucked. I wish it weren’t so, but then I also wish people wiped the pet hair off their shitty furniture before I had to move it for them. This dynamic isn’t unique to pro football, obviously. It exists across all major sports, but tends to get ignored once work stoppages begin. It seems somewhat arbitrary to be enraged to the point of abandonment at the owners for a lockout that occurred in the offseason, where games aren’t being canceled, when owners have been fleecing fans for decades and strong-arming cities into building them stadia with public money. The only difference is that the lockout has been about them trying to bleed the players, as opposed to us, for a little bit more. Not that that’s not a shitty thing, but should we really shocked that the owners are horrible people?
I was at a wedding reception on Saturday and had to spend a few minutes between tossing back drinks talking to a guy who teaches at Harvard. Upon hearing that I write about sports, he launched into a lecture about how athletics are generally a drain on society. About what you would expect in tenor and content out of some supercilious academia cockwallet you’d want to sledge hammer in the nuts. But even as I stood there and tried to kill him with my booze-addled thoughts, I had to concede that he wasn’t wrong. A cock-quaffing shithead, but not wrong.
After all, most everything about sports is pointless and stupid. That we get emotional about people we will never meet who play a game for a living is stupid. That we live and die with the fortunes of teams, whose chief aim is to take our money in exchange for letting us be their supporters, is stupid. That government places sports above the needs of its citizens is stupid. That we care about players’ personal lives is stupid. That supposed professionals can dedicate their careers to saying deliberately trite and lazy things about sports in print and broadcast and call it a respectable – and sometimes lucrative – living is fucking stupid. That the blogosphere exists in large part only to point out just how trite and lazy the things that the established media says about sports is stupid. None of it matters. Spent energy that could be better utilized elsewhere. None of it will change the course of civilization in any meaningful way, other than maybe some of our cities will be reduced to rubble in a post-championship riot. Stupid piled high on stupid, like it were double meat on a Subway club, which is a stupid simile.
I don’t mean to chide or pretend that last paragraph is at all revelatory. I’m a willful, even gleeful, participant in it. It’s like how we say we love our country, even though it is run by those who are either outright corrupt or venal to the point of complicity. If you want to play idealist, go fix all that shit before getting on me about how retarded my interests are.
Football is fun. Like most things in life that are fun, it is pointless, stupid and ultimately bad for us. It also happens to be one of a million types of escapism available to the average American, no more practically useless than any of the others. So if you catch flak for being excited again for football, be sure to take aim at whatever non-eating-breathing-procreating hobby the complaining dickhead in question favors. Chances are, it’s fucking up the world somehow, too.
More to the point, when football isn’t around, I’m forced to deal with larger, knottier life questions than who’s in my fantasy line-up. I’d just prefer not. It’s really a lot more uplifting to imagine Kenny Britt crashing a stolen car into Tony Romo’s face. So if the owners and players would be so kind as to just get this thing closed out already, that’d be super.