[T]he fiasco over locker-room bullying between the Miami Dolphins’ Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito reminded everyone this season how eccentric football now is culturally — not because of a hidden health problem, but just in its explicit, inherent violence. The battle fought in the press between the players’ “sources” unveiled football as a dark, subterranean hive of old-school warrior values and character-building sadism. Taunts and racial imprecations were openly justified, the way military floggings once were: as salutary hide-tougheners.

It’s funny to watch jock schools like Colorado and Chapel Hill hyperventilate about their integrity when football, in all its dark subterranean hiviness, is such an important part of their institutions.

This blog has duly chronicled several sadistic university football coaches (basketball too, of course, but we don’t want this post to get too long) – men who, with each new revelation of their treatment of players, get fired and then passed off to a new school.

Maybe football should be spun out and – in accordance with its actual nature – made just one more non-academic bloodsport:

It is interesting how the increasingly popular spectacle of mixed martial arts (MMA) competition so quickly secured a perimeter of social acceptance for itself. MMA is not only violent; it is violence. But the risks are blatant enough for us not to pity the competitors. (Their locker rooms are probably pretty crude places, too.) Football players, by contrast, are not supposed to be pure, uncivilized instruments of brutality. They are supposed to be technicians, strategists, artists whose work involves only a limited element of cruelty.

Moreover, they are nurtured in a system of universities as “student-athletes,” and a corrupt, increasingly bizarre system at that. The game grew out of educational establishments in the first place. No one is trying to integrate MMA with the curriculum at Notre Dame or Harvard; MMA was invented too late for that.

Think of this observation when you read (as you often read) commentators arguing that the solution to the problem of corrupt university football is to make football an academic major. As the game gets more and more purely violent, its claims to intellectuality, disciplinarity, grow.

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6 Responses to “Football: By Far, The American University’s Most Popular Activity.”

  1. TAFKAU Says:

    Not that it changes your larger point, but football does not dominate UNC-Chapel Hill. Basketball does. (This also goes for Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville, Duke, and Kansas.)

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    TAFKAU: Good point. I’ll edit a bit.

  3. GTWMA Says:

    Coming soon to a campus near you: https://www.facebook.com/CollegeMMA

  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    GTWMA: Well, as long as they’re just clubs

  5. GTWMA Says:

    And not just confined to America: http://www.mmafighting.com/news/2012/5/24/3041147/prestigious-british-university-cambridge-challenges-rival-oxford-to

  6. GTWMA Says:

    Who needs a major in football, when you’ve already found the enablers?


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