Brainiac On Banjo: I’m Gonna Get A Lotta Shit For This…

Life’s a football game, as every chump and champ knows. We don’t touch, we collide, till we’re worn out inside. We’re kicking each other, right where it hurts, setting up the big play, and trying to score. — “Football” written by Iggy Pop, Whitey Kirst, and Whitney Kirst.

Art by Jack Davis

Yeah, I know I’m going to get a lot of shit for this, but the worst thing that ever happened to America is football.

OK. Breathe into a paper bag for a minute and then read my explanation.

As George Carlin told us back in 1975 during the very first episode of Saturday Night Live, and I excerpt, “football has hitting, clipping, spearing, piling on, personal fouls, late hitting and unnecessary roughness. Football is played in any kind of weather: rain, snow, sleet, hail, fog. In football, you can be sure that at least twenty-seven times you’re capable of taking the life of a fellow human being. In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy’s defensive line.”

Art by Jack Davis

Fine. That’s the sport of football. Compared to the way the rest of the world plays their football, very few people actually get killed. Except in Canada, where they play a different game of football altogether and they are very polite, once they get outside of a hockey arena. But the culture of American football — and that’s the last time I’ll use that adjective with respect to sport — well, that’s a whole different thing. It is much more dangerous.

At a game (in person or via broadcast) football fans see the world as Us versus Them. No matter who wins the game, we are the winners and they are the losers; they only won because they cheated and the referees let them get away with it. Our devotion to this bipolar reasoning boarders on complete. Solid. It’s a game.

Until you extend that to all of the other aspects of American life. We have a strong tendency to use that militarized football Us versus Them worldview in damn never everything we can. Our political affiliation? Democrats and Republicans hate each other. Liberals and conservatives (two totally meaningless terms) loathe one another. Vegans hate carnivores. People in North Dakota dislike people from South Dakota, and vice versa. Religion? Mine is right, sorry about yours, you losers, and stop trying to murder us with your viruses. My daddy can beat up your daddy. And, please, don’t get me started on race relations.

For all too many of us, it’s America über alles. “America is the greatest nation in the world,” according to millions of people who have spent little if any time in any other nation — or can even find most other nations on a map. America is the greatest nation in history? There are only two beings qualified to make that statement: Mr. Peabody and Sherman.

Football is a game. America is life. Games end, but zealots are immortal. The football culture has become a religion, but pigskin is not the weapon of choice of these fine Americans.

Treating America as football gets people killed. Weirdly, most people who think Covid is a Chinese plot to take over whatever is left are completely comfortable ordering Asian fusion meals. Well, except for those who, during the lockdown, went out of their way to kill the Asian-Americans they encountered.

So when Robert Kennedy Junior tells us Ashkenazi Jews and the Chinese people designed Covid to kill everybody else, he is simply honoring his family’s long-held lust for the game of football.

As a fucking bigot would.