Frank DeFord’s latest weekly segment on NPR, in advance of tomorrow night’s kickoff of the National Football League’s 2010 season, offers the scribe’s opinion why the popularity of professional football continues to grow.
First, DeFord argues, America’s affinity for football has grown as our "success" in actual wars has declined. As he writes, “It makes me wonder if, ironically, football doesn’t provide us more with nostalgia for the way war used to be — with clear battle maps, focused campaigns, simple battle lines.”
He added, “And, of course, football games have neat conclusions — they’re simply won or lost. But our wars are precisely not settled that way anymore; their goals are vague and imprecise and they just drag on and on, without resolution.”
The other reason for the explosion in the NFL’s popularity is its violence according to DeFord, since “we prefer more violence in most all phases of our entertainment today.”
DeFord continued, saving his most creative descriptor for the interactive industry:
Mixed martial arts is more violent than traditional boxing, auto racing is more violent than horse racing, and professional wrestling makes comedy out of brutality. Our movies and television, too, are more violent, and our children grow up devoted to incredibly bloodthirsty video games. Even our music, that which soothes the savage beast, is more savage today.
As Vince Lombardi once said, "Football isn’t a contact sport; it’s a collision sport. Dancing is a contact sport."