Football Players = Bullies
I had just moved to Virginia from Utah. It was the beginning of my junior year. You would think as we grow into young adults that teenagers start learning how to respect each other better, but that is just not the case. For some reason the kicker on our football team had singled me out. I hadn't spent more than a month at my new school before I started dealing with his taunting in the lunch room.
At this point in my life I can't even remember if he was a grade older, but I remember eventually it stopped. The bullying, however, didn't until I was well past college. I know I am not alone being someone who was at the other end of a football players berating or physical abuse.
It's the sport and the players and their coaches
Seriously. When is the last time a tennis team or swim team in high school had members arrested? We've all turned on the news and nine times out of ten when a young woman is assaulted it is a football player at the other end of the hand cuffs.
In middle America it is seen as a way to fame and glory in your local community. Granted, it is usually quite localized and unless a person goes on to actual fame and glory they usually become that sad sorry towny, losing their hair, and forever referred to as "that guy who took us to states." Maybe that is why I chose to live in the city? So I never have to deal with those sorts of people again?
Coaches, who in most schools either serve as physical education instructors, history teachers, or administrators are one of the keys to this abusive culture. They serve as the guardian angels over their teams forever getting their players out of trouble or reframing their behavior as "just kids having a good time." How many people, like myself, try to report the behavior only to be brushed off by the administration?
America will be better without Gladiators
As our empire continues to dry, crust, and fall apart our institutions, which serve as "bread and circuses" will inevitably begin to falter. Football has served its purpose. Whole portions of the population would prefer to do nothing on the weekends but gorge themselves on wings and watch human beings, in body armor, crash into each other.
We have many issues in our country. We have a mental health crisis, an opiate epidemic, mass shootings, and rampant homelessness in the cities. Our jobless rates no longer include those who are longtime unemployed.
Perhaps as everyone boycotts the NFL (both Left and Right now for very opposite reasons) we can refocus in on the real issues and help some of our citizens out.
All photos copyright Brandon Ruckdashel from the "Bros" series