Here is what is irremediably, irredeemably, intrinsically wrong with the game of professional football: it is like the worst aspects of American life. Individuals are expected to sacrifice their bodies and minds for the benefit of the collective endeavor, just as office workers are expected to be team players, meaning that they should put the company before themselves, their families, and their communities.
Just as American office workers work longer hours for the same pay, it being understood that if they don’t, they will be replaced by overseas workers, most football players are paid relatively poorly (with very few exceptions), especially given the short life expectancy of their jobs. Moreover, like all American workers, football players have no guarantee of keeping their jobs or of catching on with another team, particularly if they are cut near the end of training camp or in mid-season.
They owe the team everything, and the team owes them nothing. They suffer clauses in their employment contracts that threaten them with unemployment for actions that embarrass the team, but the team cannot be punished for embarrassing its players. American workers can be fired for failing a drug test, sharing a pornographic joke via email, and professional football players can be fined or fired for disparaging the organization to the news media. But no football player ever got a raise because his coach scalped tickets, signed with another team, or management raised ticket prices despite a losing season. Likewise, no American worker ever got a bonus because executives at their company took or gave bribes, inflated revenues, or stuffed a channel.
Once their playing careers are over, professional football players are usually physically damaged, and face very uncertain futures. Like most Americans, their pensions are unequal to even the minimum standard of living they were able to achieve during their working lives.
The average lifespan of a former professional football player is further attenuated by abnormal physiognomy as a result of several factors, including a strenuous exercise regime that cannot be maintained in the course of normal life, difficulties in adjusting to normal eating and sleeping patterns, the body’s decreased capacity for absorbing and metabolizing alcohol, loneliness, frustration at a lack of recognition in the community, and attendant feelings of self-loathing. Most American workers eat unhealthy foods throughout the day, endure the deleterious effects of alcohol consumption while watching football on Sundays, suffer the alienation of their families, realize, often too late, that they play no meaningful role in their communities, and sink into inevitable feelings of self-loathing.
Former professional football players who failed to achieve star status or name recognition cannot earn endorsement contracts or other commercial ambassadorships, and have sacrificed the academic or employment history necessary for earning a high standard of living. If they have not suffered brain damage or debilitating injury during their playing careers, they can find blue collar employment at standard wages. If they were lucky enough to play for successful teams, they can sell championship trophies and rings to collectors, albeit for amounts below their actual pecuniary value, and well below the emotional value of those items as the last remaining vestiges of their success. In this way they are even worse off than typical American workers, who are stuck with the Little League and Pop Warner trophies they were given as children, and which they cannot even give away at yard sales.
Long live Football!