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December 3, 2012

The NFL, Domestic Violence and Mourning Mid-Field

I cannot say how paradoxical it is to see two teams, otherwise tasked to beat on each other, gathered in a prayer circle before tens of thousands of fans in the name of domestic violence and violence toward the self. If you’re not aware of the backstory, the caption reads:

Kansas City Chiefs and Carolina Panthers players form a prayer circle after the Chiefs’ win in a NFL football game in Kansas City, Missouri December 2, 2012. The previous day, Chiefs’ linebacker Jovan Belcher killed himself after fatally shooting his girlfriend in an action witnessed by head coach Romeo Crennel and other Chiefs personnel.

What’s all the more odd, almost stomach turning, is how the letters “KC” inside the Chief’s arrowhead symbol at the center of the field makes the ground looked blood-soaked (which is not far from reality given that Belcher turned a gun on himself in front of team officials at the Chief’s training facility). Perhaps its disrespectful to make too much of the symbolism, but with sports teams playing specifically on cultural icons (like Cowboys and Indians), and with all the long term debilitating injuries meted out and absorbed at places like Arrowhead, the allusion to killing grounds in this violent culture of ours is probably not that far afield.

(photo: Dave Kaup/Reuters caption: Kansas City Chiefs and Carolina Panthers players form a prayer circle after the Chiefs’ win in a NFL football game in Kansas City, Missouri December 2, 2012. The previous day, Chiefs’ linebacker Jovan Belcher killed himself after fatally shooting his girlfriend in an action witnessed by head coach Romeo Crennel and other Chiefs personnel. .)

  • Oaken Bucket

    Football is a “violent” sport only in a metaphorical sense. Actual violence is penalized as unsportsmanlike conduct. There’s no connection between football and murder except that football players, being human, do the same things that other humans do . . . including murder.

    Identifying Jovan Belcher as a Chiefs’ linebacker should not imply that murder comes more easily to football players than it does to the rest of us. Such a facile implication suggests that people who play robust sports are somehow less civilized.

    If there is a link between football and actual violence, the argument should be made explcitly. If Jovan Belcher as football player is more disposed to murder-suicide, don’t just imply such a connection, come right out and state it.

    • Thomas

      Hilarious.

    • http://www.bagnewsnotes.com Michael Shaw

      I understanding what your saying, but your also placing metaphor on injured reserve. If we talk about James Holmes and the Dark Knight shooting in Aurora, it is one thing to demand a causal link between between Holmes and Batman and Hollywood, and another to see that surface connection as being reflective (along with the accessibility of handguns and this country’s miserable level of mental health awareness and prevention) as reflections of a sportingly violent culture.

  • bks3bks

    It’s time to outlaw prayer circles and the national anthem at sporting events.

    –bks

    • LanceThruster

      My two favorite “prayer” quotes are –
      Nothing fails like prayer.
      &
      Prayer. It’s the *least* you can do.

  • Oaken Bucket

    Great line – “placing metaphor on injured reserve.” Yes, I did undervalue metaphor’s role in motivating actual behavior. My thinking went more towards the coping skills of football players, who are celebrated and indulged from high school on. Perhaps they don’t learn how to cope with life’s ordinary disappointments, such as being spurned by a lover. There’s no referee imposing 15-yard penalties in real life.

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