Wednesday, March 7, 2012


When I went to work as a filmartist at NFL Films in '68, violence was one of the reasons given why NFL Football was not the most popular sport in America; baseball was "way back then". The brutality of football did not appeal to women. In a perfect storm of unpredictable coincidences, that year I created a football ballet, "The Headcracker Suite", which aired on the Emmy show in '69, introduced by the hero of the Super Bowl, Joe "Willie" Namath (a cool, hot stud), and the ladies were impressed. Watch the football audience expanding.

Slow motion revealed the amazing grace and athleticism of these men in tight pants and, without a helmet and pads, these guys could be HOT. And the Emmys was a prime time roll out, not just for cigar chomping Sunday afternoons in front of a TV with the faithful; this was a wholesome, family demographic. TV was the last straw in this storm; an outdoor sport to watch in your own "private box" complete with a roof, a thermostat, a potty and a fridge. HEAVEN!!! And a sport seemingly made for TV; not fast and jumbled like soccer, hockey, or even basketball. Baseball was on snooze control. And the game itself with its breaks between plays and scores and commercials meant its snack time! Potty time! Bingo!

Football like every other sport is just a reality show, another piece of the entertainment feast the world devours. What you want to avoid is heartburn; like watching someone you love and admire being eaten by the Bears, the Lions, or heaven forbid, the freakin Saints! Will this damage this brutal sports popularity? As a kid, I saw football as a trial of manhood; could I face the the violence, the pain, the injuries and BE A MAN. I could and did and even turned down a half scholarship to play in college back when one could earn one's tuition each summer. I preferred playing on stages where the blood was fake, and I had had my "Bounty" moment in high school more than 50 years ago.

My high school team was playing against a dominant halfback and the coach I worshiped, A BIG, STRONG, MAN, our leader. our idol, was giving us the final chalk talk before the game. He put the halfback's number on the board and said if he couldn't finish the game, our chances for winning improved greatly. He then circled the number. On the opening kickoff, we broke his leg and won the game.

Then there is the cheating; the holding, the punching, not with fists but with elbows. One of our starters proudly said, "if you're not cheating, you're not playing the game". I had admired him but not so much anymore. I had a "high road vision" of good sportsmanship where there were no bounties, no cheating BECAUSE THIS IS JUST A FREAKIN GAME!!! It's not life and death. It's fun if you're just doing it for the play and even avoid hurting each other so that the roughhousing can continue. I always thought if a player who deliberately unloads on another and causes that injured player to leave the game, I say, throw out the bum for as long as the injured player sits, even if its forever. (God Bless You, D. Stingley)

Sure you could cheat but there is no nobility in that. Why do we play? Is it to make money? Then it's a job. And you work in a Roman Coliseum where accidents are planned and the benefits of lingering injuries suck. Yes, I want to change the game. I want to take the game back to just being a game and not "WINNING IS THE ONLY FREAKIN THING!" When fun leads to joy, it doesn't matter who wins unless you bet the rent money or bought a franchise to a brutal nightmare that calls itself a SPORT.

I took up that BS in another film I made for the NFL; a PR film that mocks PR Films. I called it "The Football Follies", and its distributor called it, "the most popular sport film ever made".

No comments: