Will football follow the circus into oblivion?

As a fan, I’ll mourn the demise of football. What happens at football games during the national anthem is bad, and I’ll get to it in a moment. But what may end the game is what happens after the anthem.

Post-mortem dissections of the brains of 112 former NFL players recently revealed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (or CTE) in 111 of them. The study was published last summer in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association and summarized by the New York Times.

The Times reports that the symptoms of CTE include “memory loss, confusion, depression and dementia. The problems can arise years after the blows have stopped.”

Football players sustain CTE through frequent impacts to their heads. Their helmeted heads routinely collide violently with other helmets, shoulder pads and the ground. Even with a helmet, the impact is equivalent to driving a car into a brick wall at 30 miles per hour.

You may respond that playing football is voluntary. You may say that if people want to risk their brains and bodies to be rich and idolized, that’s their right.

I disagree. We don’t allow people to play Russian roulette, and we don’t allow them to sell their lives or limbs.

We draw the line on activities that are consensual but destructive to our psyche, our soul and our civilization.

Remember the circus? In the ancient circus, it was considered sporting to watch people stab, dismember and kill one another with swords and spears. In Rome, bread and circus mollified the masses. So long as the masses were kept fed and entertained, the thinking went, they wouldn’t make trouble.

We eventually evolved past that.

But the evolution took time. In the modern circus as recently as the last century, it was considered sporting to torment and mock caged animals.

But we eventually evolved past that, too.

Maybe it’s time to evolve past football. The impact of football on the players is appalling, but the impact to the rest of us is troubling as well.

It plays to our worst traits – our violence and our tribalism. I suppose it’s better for people to be tribal about Broncos and Raiders than to be tribal about blacks and whites, but tribalism of any kind is habit forming.

Don’t even get me started on the colossal office time-waster called “fantasy football.” Or end-zone dancing and other poor sportsmanship in front of children, some of whom are in their 60s. Or the football factories that used to be institutions of higher education.

The violence of football so placates people that we subsidize it with billions of dollars. In Green Bay, Wisconsin, the team, the league and its stadium district anted up $312 million for renovations to their football stadium and the quarterback just signed a $110 million contract. Meanwhile, the struggling symphony orchestra went out of business.

In Atlanta, taxpayers help fund a new $1.5 billion stadium and the quarterback has a $104 million contract while the school district is running a $12 million shortfall and there’s a postcard campaign to fund the struggling arts.

What does this say about society’s priorities? Is this a good use of our resources?

Now, about that kneeling stuff. One week, the players were so outraged by the injustice of white-on-black violence that they felt compelled to display their conscience by disrespecting the flag and those who died for it (a large number of whom in recent generations were black). Their outrage apparently did not extend to the disproportionate victims of black-on-white violence or the epidemic of black-on-black violence but, OK, I suppose their conscience goes where it goes.

But then the next week, after realizing that their conscience threatened their livelihood, they effectively muttered, “Never mind.”

In short, their conscience overrides their respect for their flag and country but not their respect for their paychecks.

The owners didn’t exactly wrap themselves in glory either. They chose to pander to the players by pretending to sympathize with their racial cause, but only until the mood of the masses turned against them and threatened their profits. Then they too muttered, “Never mind.”

Hypocrisy, greed, violence, tribalism and muttering are part of human nature. But let’s stop glorifying it in football.

I’ll miss it. Football is the greatest spectacle since, well, the Roman circus, but a bright sunny afternoon beckons. Maybe I’ll call a friend and get a life.

(Published Oct 15, 2017 in the Aspen Times at http://www.aspentimes.com/opinion/glenn-k-beaton-will-football-follow-the-circus-into-oblivion/)


Does Aspen Really Need Silver Plated Sidewalks?

Here in Gucci Gulch, the enviros once tried to outlaw fur coats. And the lefty mayor once decried rooftop hot tubs atop private $20 million penthouses that are not even visible from the street on the grounds that they’re “excessive.” The hot tubs, that is.

But nothing is too excessive if the bill is paid by taxpayers. Here’s the story.

Local government bureaucrats with too much time on their hands and taxpayer money in their pockets want to use some of both to build an elevated sidewalk. It would be cantilevered over an embankment alongside Castle Creek Road, which threads through a beautiful canyon that has the misfortune of being within the jurisdictional kingdom of these rich and idle bureaucrats.

The sidewalk would run about a half mile and cost about $6 million.

Let’s do some math on this $6 million sidewalk. Continue reading

Like Herpes, Hillary won’t go away

Certain dread diseases are not curable.  They might go away for a while but eventually they come back with ugly pus-filled sores that itch, fester and ooze.  They’re painful and embarrassing.

Hillary Clinton is like that.

Just when we thought she’d gone away, she’s flaring up worse than ever.  She has a new book out, for which she’s started tours.  You have to pay money to come to the book tour to hear her pitch this book that she wants you to pay money to buy to read about what a generous person she is.

We shouldn’t be surprised.  This is the woman who was charging public universities and charities a quarter million for one-hour speeches.

This book – her latest vehicle for monetizing the American political system – is about how she was humiliated by an amateur in the last election. It’s called “What Happened.”

No, it’s not called “What the f— Happened.”  And it’s not called “S— Happens.”  It’s called “What Happened.”

Everyone else already knows what happened.  Continue reading

The Pirates of Antifa are headed to Davey Jones’ locker

“Argh, I’m a pirate!” So says every boy after watching the animated movie Peter Pan.

Then he slips into his daddy’s boots, makes a cardboard sword and puts on a funny hat. He prances around in his getup imitating Captain Hook.

His mom is delighted. “Oh, indeed you are. You’re quite a daring and darling pirate.” She videotapes him and posts it on Facebook for everyone to adore. “Now go to bed, you cutie-pie pirate.” So the boy goes to bed.

Most boys outgrow this, but not the left. They imagine themselves as outlaw swashbucklers even as they slavishly conform to establishment politics. Think of bands of pirates marching in formation and saluting. Dressed identically, each compliments the other on his creative and non-conformist attire.

“Argh, we’re a motley crew of pirates,” they chant in unison.

Now the left has a new prancing pirate department. They call it “Antifa.” It’s supposed to be a contraction of “antifascism.”

Uh huh.  OK, cutie pie.

These pirates of Antifa are men and women (and others, I suppose) of ages 20 to 60, going on 7, prancing around cities looking for sea monsters to slay. They pose as daring and darling individualists while chanting tired leftist slogans in unison.

Sea monsters being mostly fished out from our cities, Continue reading

There were no good guys in Charlottesville

“Two sides” didn’t produce the horrifying violence at Charlottesville.  There were many sides.  All were bad in varying degrees.

The worst of the bad guys, of course, was the homicidal loser who drove a van into a crowd of people to kill as many as he could.  This is the guy who once assaulted his mother and was drummed out of the army after four months.

The next-worst were the Neo-Nazi’s.  Yes, other groups are equally violent, equally racist, equally hateful and equally stupid.  But Neo-Nazi’s are in a special category because their predecessors – the ones that were just as violent, racist and hateful but not as stupid – nearly succeeded in plots of worldwide genocide and totalitarianism.

Neo-Nazi’s are even worse than the originals in some ways.  The originals mistakenly believed they were in the right, while the new ones know they’re not.  Nazism is not the political philosophy of the Neo’s – what do these morons know about politics or philosophy? – but is just an excuse for being ugly.

The next worst at Charleston were the groups that have coalesced like sticky grime under the pseudo-mysterious name “Antifa.”  That’s supposed to be a contraction of “anti-fascism.”

The Orwellian irony to Antifa and their bombastic name is that they’re not anti-fascist at all.  They’re fascists.  Like other fascists, they censor, shout down, intimidate, threaten and sometimes assault anyone they don’t like.

And like other fascists, Antifa’s rationale for their violence is that they’re right and their victims are wrong, and so shut up.

Some of the Antifa fascists and some of the Neo-Nazi fascists were at Charlottesville for the express purpose of picking fights in front of TV cameras.  That’s what fascists do.  These two fascist groups succeeded in their common objective.

The next-worst were the politicians.  The mayor of Charlottesville and the governor of Virginia apparently gave advance orders for the cops not to intervene in the anticipated violence.

This misguided order originates in the myth propagated in the political quarters occupied by these particular politicians that, as between a guy with a baseball bat who wants to beat the daylights out of a bystander, and a guy with a badge who wants to stop him, the latter is the bad guy. And if only the latter will stay clear of the former, the former will put away the bat.

It’s time to reaffirm what we all used to take for granted – that the thin blue line of men and women with badges who want to  defend us even though they are sometimes killed in doing so are good guys.  At Charlottesville, the politicians ordered these good guys not to do their job.

Next is the media.  CNN, for example, has gone from a respected news source to a partisan propaganda machine staffed by weaponized info-entertainers waging an endless war of rhetoric against President Trump.

The media didn’t exactly cause Charlottesville, nor did they exactly cause the earlier mass-shooting of GOP Congressmen by a Bernie Sanders supporter.  But they have legitimized violence in the name of “Resistance” to the president duly chosen by the people in the last election.

The supposedly unbiased media rationalize that the election was invalid because the people were too stupid to elect the media’s chosen candidate – even as that same media fear that those same people were not too stupid to see that the media chose one.

The media is not only biased, arrogant and deceitful, but cheap.  Before the murdered woman at Charlottesville was even buried, the media had already shifted away from news and onto their anti-Trump propagandizing.  News reporting is difficult and expensive, but propagandizing is easy and cheap – it requires no more than a free talking head talking out of his fat lazy butt.

The media should be ashamed.

Next I blame Trump.  I don’t think he produced Charlottesville either, but his garbled post-Charlottesville statements made things worse.  It is true, as Trump said then and as I write here, that lots of people were bad actors.  But the day after mayhem a president should console and unite us in mourning.  There is always time later to consider policy questions and causes.

In this regard, Trump is singularly lacking in political competence, and seems unable to learn from his mistakes.

Like many other people, I don’t respect politicians much.  I initially believed that an incompetent politician like Trump is less bad than a competent one, just as an incompetent criminal is less bad than a competent one.  But I’ve reconsidered that view.

I now think a politician needs to be competent in his craft.  Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton were, and got things done.  Jimmy Carter, and now Donald Trump, were not and didn’t.

Mr. President, you’re no longer an apprentice.  Grow into the office.

(Published Aug. 27, 2017 in the Aspen Times at http://www.aspentimes.com/opinion/glenn-k-beaton-there-were-no-good-guys-at-charlottesville/)

Continue reading

Go all the way, Juice

“He … could … go … all … the … way!” — Catchphrase for a touchdown run in-progress made famous by sportscaster Chris Berman

Orenthal James Simpson was born in 1947 in a San Francisco housing project. He was soon dubbed “O.J.”

His father was a drag queen, literally. His parents divorced and he was raised by his mother. His father later died of AIDS.

O.J. developed rickets as a child, which is typically caused by a vitamin deficiency. He wore braces on his legs and had the weak-boned bow-leggedness that is a characteristic of rickets survivors.

He joined a gang at age 13. He was arrested three times by age 15 and was briefly incarcerated in a juvenile facility. He married at 18. He was a father at 21.

About that time, he became a superstar college football player and was the runaway winner of the Heisman Trophy. Coming out of college, he was the No. 1 choice in the pro draft.

O.J. was named an All Pro six times, the Most Valuable Player in the league once and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was one of the greatest.

But not in all ways. Continue reading

Meet Walther Ramos, American

As we celebrated the birthday of our nation last month, I thought about a Brazilian friend named Walther Ramos.

Walther grew up in an ordinary middle-class family in Brazil. As a teenager he became a terrific swimmer.

Walther has always been headstrong and didn’t get along with the Brazilian swimming establishment. But a Jewish swim team in Brazil noticed his talent and invited him to join. He thrived, and later came to America on a college swimming scholarship.

Walther stayed in contact with his Jewish friends back home and they introduced him to Israel. He got to know the Israelis and their admirable culture, religion and cause.

It culminated with his conversion to Judaism. His official position is that he converted only to qualify for a spot on the Brazilian swim team competing in the Maccabiah Games (which are something like Jewish Olympics) and that he isn’t religious.

I don’t believe him.

After injuries and open heart surgery Continue reading