I have to admit, I got into football for a boy. My husband, boyfriend at the time, was an avid NFL watcher. After several of seasons of spending game time apart, I decided to give in and actually learn about it. That way I wouldn’t be miserable spending time with him and being forced to watch the game. I started asking questions as we watched. I began to understand the rules and the strategy and it was fascinating stuff. I became familiar with players and coaches and stats. My husband told me to pick a team at the beginning of a season because it’s more fun to follow a team throughout the year. I chose the Minnesota Vikings and for the silliest, girly reasons you could think of: I like Minnesota because that is where one of my favorite shows, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, took place and I thought the quarterback, Brett Favre, was pretty dreamy. My husband was right. Even though I chose a team based on non-athletic criteria it made the season so much more fun. There was a Jared Allen on the team and my last name is Allen. I bought his jersey. I planned a flag football game with our friends. My husband and I made bets and side bets with the winners getting dinner made for them or the losers doing the dishes. I anticipated Super Bowl Sunday like a child waiting for Christmas morning. I planned our anniversary around a football game. We went down to San Diego to see the Chargers and the Niners play and I thought it was super romantic. I was totally hooked on this football phenomenon.
I started to notice my enthusiasm start to fade as negative stories about the football stars came out. Michael Vick and the dog fights. Ben Roethlisberger and the rape accusation. The exuberant Ray Lewis who I had come to love had been charged with murder. And my Brett Favre was in a sexting scandal! I don’t know the extent of these cases. I don’t even know or claim to speculate if these individuals are guilty or not guilty. All I know is that the stories sullied my passion for the game. I still continued to watch, though. I have a respect for the athletes that can excel in this sport. It is a beautiful thing to watch. Fast forward to this season’s opening weekend and two NFL stars’ negative news stories. Ray Rice and that awful footage of him laying out his finacée in the elevator is, unfortunately, burned in my brain. Adrian Peterson of my beloved Vikings is charged with child abuse. Ray McDonald of the 49ers and Carolina Panther Greg Hardy currently have open cases of domestic violence. I just don’t have it in my heart anymore to admire these football stars that tarnish their amazing abilities and talents with bad behavior. I don’t want to be let down anymore. It’s one thing to lose a game, fumble, or throw an interception, but to abuse another person (or animal) is difficult to stomach. I don’t want to diminish the fact that many athletes are out there doing good and giving back, but I don’t want to add to the fame of people who think they are above the law and human decency because they are really good at football. I make it a point not to watch the news because I don’t want to hear about violence and crime and now that has seeped into an entertainment activity. Watching football now includes hearing bad news right and left and I think I’m ready to throw in the towel. And I’m not going to pull a Favre and be indecisive about it.
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