Sunday, May 1, 2016

America, Seen Through The Draft

Sometimes, I speak about things unrelated to politics because I think they are interesting or have good lessons about life, humanity or America. This is one of those. The NFL draft is an amazing spectacle. The NFL puts on an incredibly compelling and interesting show, and they are rewarded with more people watching it than watch the NBA all-star game. For our purposes though, the NFL draft offers a tremendous look into the mindset of the American public. Indeed, the draft IS America in microcosm.

It Is... The American Dream: The NFL draft represents the American dream perfectly. You take a kid from the ghetto, or the suburbs, or even a foreign country. They have a dream: to be an NFL star. They work their butts off – there are no shortcuts, no cheating, no way to fake it. Indeed, they work harder than anyone else. Their effort slowly but surely leads them to this moment. Then their name gets called from the podium. In that moment, with their mom and dad sitting next to them, they become an instant star, known to millions with a million dollar paycheck coming. What could be more American?

It Is... A Cautionary Tale: While the draft is the ultimate dream come true, it also provides a cautionary tale. Those with talent they fail to develop... those who don't maintain their level of excellence... those who misbehave, i.e. athletes who alienate their teammates, commit crimes or do drugs, all find themselves crashing through the draft and sometimes out of it. Laremy Tunsil lost around $12 million because he got caught smoking pot in a gas mask this year. Just as America requires continued vigilance to remain a success, the draft requires athletes to keep striving.

That said, the NFL, like America, is forgiving too. All of these players who undermine themselves have a chance to redeem themselves. If they can overcome their flaws and prove themselves to these teams, they can still earn what they lost at the draft in later contracts. Just like America, the NFL believes in fresh starts and second chances.

It Is... Opinionated: Americans love to have opinions. They love to hear opinions. Ditto the draft. The NFL draft has become the biggest festival of armchair experts in the world. Everyone has opinions which they use to fill mock drafts, draft grades and spread in the comment sections of news sites. Every pick is analyzed, as are every non-pick, every trade, every non-trade, and just about everything else. The public just can't get enough. This tells us something really interesting about America. First, it tells us that Americans love to state their opinions. That fits with a people who like to make their own decisions. We also love being informed in our opinions. And we have a strong sense of community as it interests us what everyone else is thinking. This tells us that Americans are independent but not isolationist or loners. It also tells us that we value intellectual pursuits as a hobby. Americans really are thinkers. And it tells us that we are adept at sifting competing opinions to develop our own. Finally, it tells us that we love to second guess "the experts," i.e we judge our self-proclaimed superiors.

It is... All About Heroes: One of the things the NFL excels at is pageantry. Part of that is how they present the picks. Rather than just having an NFL person read them, they have different people do it who the NFL thinks will appeal to us and make the pick something special. This includes having picks read by retired NFL players, NFL players who win awards for charity, make-a-wish foundation kids, police, firemen, and soldiers. America loves its every-day heroes, and this is a microcosm of the people Americans feel most proudly about. Notice a complete lack of politicians and celebrities, the people our media normally views as representing America. Interesting, isn't it?

It is... Compassionate: It’s interesting that the biggest stories are those involving players who fall in the draft because of an unfortunate injury. Even more interestingly, these aren’t train-wreck stories presented for our schadenfreude. To the contrary, the public quickly gets behind these players and roots for them to get picked, and when the player is finally picked, the draft hall erupts in applause. Clearly, Americans sympathize with misfortune. What's more, it’s fascinating that these are billionaires making contracts with soon-to-be millionaires to play a meaningless game, and yet average people genuinely shed tears for their stories. That speaks volumes about America, and it belies the left's classism. Indeed, it suggests that Americans largely ignore a person's wealth or status and instead judge them by their behavior (see "cautionary tale" above) or by their circumstance. Indeed, no one looks at these kids and their mothers crying tears of joy next to them and says, "She must be happy about the money." Everyone is happy for what these kids have earned.

It is... Non-Racial: Everywhere you look at the draft, you see black and white players huddled together, black and white coaches in draft rooms, black executives, white executives, and black and white fans sitting side by side watching the event. Everyone is cheering on everyone else, no matter the race, and there is no mention of race whatsoever. This really is what we're starting to see throughout America. That should give everyone hope.

Interestingly, all of this non-racial interaction is despite the best efforts of the sports media, who cry racism at everything. Indeed, this desire to find racism is so ingrained in leftist journalists that just firing a black coach, hiring a white coach, benching a black quarterback, or even criticizing a black quarterback leads to howls of racism by them. One dipsh*t recent claimed that just comparing a black quarterback prospect to a failed black quarterback was racist, even though he admitted that other white quarterbacks were being given the same comparison. Nevertheless, the efforts of these people to stir up hate go ignored by the football public... just like is happening in our national race debate.

It is... Hope: America's greatest strength is its ability to renew itself constantly. When we make a mistake, we fix it. When something isn't working, we change it. Dying neighborhoods get gentrified. Fading businesses get turned around or become something new. People with dead-end careers go back to school and find something new. America is a land of perpetual hope for a better day tomorrow. The NFL draft mirrors that perfectly. The NFL draft is a chance for teams to turn themselves around or make themselves stronger. Whether you just won the superbowl or haven't had a winning season since Nixon was President, the NFL draft lets teams start fresh.

It is... Hated: Finally, the NFL draft also reveals the ugliness of a certain slice of the American public... usually leftists. There are people in this country who just hate everything about it. They hate its success. They hate its happiness. They hate the fact the public doesn't agree with them. The draft is the same, and these cynical assholes never miss a chance to attack it. The NFL players union misconstrued a quote from the commissioner and used that to claim the NFL wants the players to fall to create drama at the draft. It then issued a statement warning the draftees that the NFL is “not family,” it’s a business and it’s using them. Several "journalists" went on a crusade against the NFL inviting players to attend the draft because they supposedly became “unpaid tools” for the NFL to generate television ratings... as if that was a bad thing (fyi, the NFL shares its income 50%/50% between owners and player’s salaries and ratings drive revenues). Some wrote articles attacking the draft itself by claiming the NFL uses the draft to brainwash kids into giving up their freedom to choose their own team. Others attack the draft for robbing colleges of players (the same idiots hypocritically attack colleges for not paying their players) and for "misleading" the kids who won't be drafted. The NFL draft is worse than Hitler, apparently.

Yet, the public doesn't care. Ratings and revenues just keep going up as the game's popularity (and the popularity of the draft) spreads. Just like big-picture America, this show that (1) no matter how inspiring something is, someone will twist it and hate it and will seek to destroy it, and (2) the public ignores those people.

There are a lot of lessons here for anyone interested in winning over the public. Indeed, this tells us very clearly what the public values and what it does not, what it will tolerate and what it will not, and when it will listen and when it will not. Conservatives could learn a lot by watching the draft.


Kit said...

OT: Post on Game of Thrones over at Commentarama Films: LINK

If you have not seen the most recent episode then don't click it.

Patriot said...

Andrew...Great article. Whenever I watch the NFL or read about it's particular players I'm reminded of the movies Rollerblade and Running Man and how we're almost there with regards to the fan worship of particular players and the frisson of knowing that the controlled violence could cause one of these players to be seriously injured.

On the other hand, look at what has happened with knee surgeries and replacements as a result of football injuries. So maybe the way to look at the NFL is like NASA where they are in the forefront of medical advances like NASA was in the forefront of scientific advances. Maybe they'll be able to find solutions to concussions and neck/spinal cord injuries in the future. There's definitely enough money motivating the advances.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Patriot! Our sports medicine has really excelled in this country and I do suspect that groups like the NFL have been at least partially responsible for that. And like you, I suspect their concussion and neck/spinal cord injury efforts will probably contribute to those fields as well.

The NFL has also taken the lead in trying to get kids to exercise. They run a number of charities related to helping poor people get houses too.

On the Rollerball stuff, that's true. It is disturbing how obsessed people can get with athletes, but on the other hand, better that than having them obsess over something that could lead them to be terrorists.

Anthony said...

I pay minimal attention to sports, but this is a very interesting article.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Anthony. I think it's an interesting topic which provides us with a great way to observe the American public.

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