Sunday, November 30, 2014

Library of America Story of the Week Read-Along 251: Bryan Curtis, Friday Night Tykes (#251) (Catching up)

Bryan Curtis, "Friday Night Tykes" (2013) from Football: Great Writing about the National Sport:

I like to think of myself as an easy-going, live-and-let-live sort of person, but there are some substantial holes in that blanket statement. One of those holes is sports: I used to play and love soccer; I used to be a varsity fencer (foil); I loved playing ping pong at MakerSquare. (Check out my blog from then, which has a ping pong tag.)

And yet, reading Bryan Curtis's article about youth league football in Texas made my skin crawl. It's not that the youth league is committed to playing football, a sport that has a demonstrated negative effect on a statistically significant portion of pro athletes. (Although there is that.) It's not that the pretty conservative town/exurb of Allen raised taxes to build a large new stadium. (Although there is something there; would they have raised taxes to build something like a homeless or rape crisis shelter?)

It's really everything around the fetishization of football: the hero worship of little kids; the bleacher-parenting of adults pushing their kids--take this supplement, don't take no for an answer from the coach (or, presumably from anyone else); the toxic masculinity that makes parents upset to have a daughter (and then name her after a football coach).

See, here's the thing: I like competing in sports. I like pushing myself. I like playing in a team.

But when I'm not on the field, I get on with my life. Pushing kids into this world where this is the one thing that matters doesn't feel like the right way to build a sustainable society that values the right things.

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