Does Football Make You Violent?

I played football in fifth grade. I was the only girl on the team, the Vikings. I dropped out before we played a game, but I made the cut. I liked flag (or was it touch) football in college too. We played in Central Park a few times. It was always a great work out.

I am so sick of what I am hearing about football these days.

A few weeks ago, I heard the first disturbing fact: that 30 percent of professional football players will have some kind of early onset dementia.

The other disheartening news — the uber aggressive nature of the sport. I can’t watch it without wincing or groaning. My son, friends and students are in fantasy football leagues so I hear about teams and players. And you can’t help but hear about the players’ aggressive playing. On and off the field. And aggression is different than violence.

The excessive violence of the players — and the way it spills over into their personal lives — is disturbing. Are you kidding me? It’s 2014 and some huge professional athlete beats his little kid with a switch? This is fricken’ nuts. A football player beats his wife and before it’s revealed, he’s suspended for only two games? Ugh.

But at least we’re hearing about it. We’re talking about it. Maybe that’s good. Domestic violence is too quickly shoved under the rug.

We care too much about professional athletes.

I wish people cared as much about actors and artists as much as athletes. I wish we cared about teachers. I wish we valued public servants and sanitation workers. Nurses. Bus drivers. Astronauts. I don’t know. Anyone.

It is so crazy the amount of money that these professional athletes, teams, managers, leagues make.

It’s also this brotherhood thing — that women cannot play. It’s a closed society. I found it creepy when the whole Penn State scandal was uncovered. Male fraternal organizations and any male-dominated groups (churches, boards) creep me out.

not caring

There’s a meme going around: “This is me not caring about football.” The thing is, I used to care about football. Growing up in Chicago-area, you had to love the Bears. Plus I liked playing. I liked being a part of a team.

A few years ago, I met this Ph.D. candidate — a friend of a friend’s at a party. She was a coach at UVM. She did a study surveying collegiate athletes — to find out if they were more aggressive than other students. They were. She was surprised — perhaps, she was hoping to find more examples of teamwork and positive group dynamics in sports. Me, too. We can do better.

As a girl who played football, I know the sport can be fun and a great work out. But, let’s face it, I’m not going to be playing any more.

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I wrote this from today’s prompt at the Daily Post: Today, write about anything — but you must write for exactly ten minutes, no more, no less. 

Off the Grid

On Christmas Eve day and Christmas Day, I unplugged.

Time off the grid was not boring. I had good food, good times with family — card games and board games. We played Crazy Eights, Headbanz, Funglish, Backgammon, and Taboo. We went outside and cut down a tree. We decorated the tree. We went caroling. We ate, we drank, we laughed.

I did not check email, Facebook, Twitter at all. Oh, noble me. But I made one mistake — I checked my voicemail. I wondered if one of my brothers or parents had called. No, instead there was a phone message from Elizabeth, the funny nurse at the dermatologist’s office. She said the last biopsy was fine, but that I had Grover’s Disease. She said, “It’s just a minor skin irritation that seems to strike old Italian men and you and me.” (I told you she was funny.)

How would I know how “minor” this skin irritation was if I couldn’t Google it? I wondered what Wikipedia had to say.

It was one thing not to update my Facebook status (‘I am making bacon for breakfast’), but quite another not to be able to peruse medical journals and find a cure for this disease that — who knows, could potentially ravish me in an instant? Why call it a disease if it wasn’t serious? I had a very good reason to search the world wide web. But noble me, I did not. I shrugged. What could I do about it any way?

I made a joke at the dinner table, “I just learned that I have Grover’s Disease. It sounds like something you get at Sesame Street.” My sister in law said, “You’ll soon be turning blue and furry.” Funny. (I know a lot of funny women!)

Well, my two days off the grid passed. I got on line. The first thing I did was check Grover’s Disease at Wikipedia. Indeed, it’s an uninteresting and very minor skin irritation. Thank God I did not ruin my social media and internet sabbath to learn that. Sometimes it’s just better not to know.

A Cave for Mary

Mary in a grotto! The cave walls are like walls in a zoo — they look real and touchable.  But get a little closer and they look a bit fake. Also, it’s just weird to see cave walls in a church, even if they are recreating Lourdes, France in Upper Manhattan.

I was on my lunch hour, hungry for a moment of peace. Family life and work life are way hectic at the end of September. And Michael DeBorja had Facebook messaged me the suggestion to visit this church! (Thanks Michael)

The odor of incense totally hit me when I walked into the sanctuary. There is also the wow effect of a cave wall in church and the vast, wide space and the echo-ey domed ceiling. This church totally reeked. I was thrown back to my first grammar school — St. Joan of Arc in Skokie, Illinois. It’s kindergarten on the Holy Day and the crowning of the May. I recalled wanting desperately to crown Mary and not being chosen. Hence, I’ve spent my life pursuing and getting snagged by the Good Girl syndrome.

Mary doesn’t help — with her unattainable tranquility and alabaster skin (what product could give me that smooth sheen?). Mary is also always alone. Ah, and in this church, there were five older women,  a diverse group too, all sitting alone. One wore a white veil on her head.

Their aloneness struck me as sad. But maybe, like me, these women, are surrounded everyday by people and they need this moment of solitude. Maybe it is an active aloneness. Like Anne Morrow Lindbergh said about solitude by the sea, “The loneliness you get by the sea is personal and alive. It doesn’t subdue you and make you feel abject. It’s stimulating loneliness.”

For some reason, I felt compelled to bless myself with holy water as I left. In churches I’ve visited before, I never felt the need. But yesterday, I did. It was a hot day in the city and cool water on my forehead would feel good.

I looked for the water founts and found them. I walked to the Morningside entrance to dip my fingers in. I was overcome with gratitude for my life. I walked down two blocks thinking of nothing but gratitude for everything and everyone in my life. And I named you all. It was a chant, “Thank you God for …..”

Today, when I looked up the church online to be sure I got the name right I discovered on Wikipedia the water is sent from Lourdes, France by special arrangement. I am glad. I am an unabashed Francophile and love all things French, especially the language. Around Mary’s halo are words, that begin, “Je suis….” I couldn’t read the rest. But I’ll take, “Je suis!”

If you love Mary — and who doesn’t? — this is the church for you! The Church of Notre Dame at 114th and Morningside.