We are learning that the National Football League provides equal-opportunity fairness.
While encouraging male athletes to ruin their brains, one club has also put female cheerleaders in danger by shuttling them out of the country, confiscating their passports, and telling them to get naked around wealthy creeps.
Just about all sports are corrupt – from so-called “college” basketball and football to gymnastics to the National Hockey League. I’m not even getting into the steroid era of baseball.
The N.F.L. is the most popular sport in the U.S. as well as the most pompous, overlooking the fact that in recent years former athletes have been shooting themselves in the chest to preserve their brains for the autopsy that will confirm the trauma.
Now, my colleague Juliet Macur has written a grim and comprehensive article about the expectations of the Washington football team (that goes by a racist nickname.)
Under owner Daniel Snyder, the cheerleaders were expected to do more than the traditional NFL duties of performing while network camera-wielders wriggle on the ground for the so-called “honey shot.” (One TV production guy became famous for encouraging up-close-and-personal glimpses of cheerleaders.)
The Washington cheerleaders were encouraged to take evening cruises on the Potomac as part of their “job” (for which they receive minimal compensation, unless you want to count photo shoots observed by leering rich guys with yachts.)
In Macur’s excellent article, the female overseer of the cheerleaders expressed shock, shock, that some of her charges felt used by these experiences.
In fairness to the N.F.L., the league has been busy lately, dealing with evidence of brain damage – over 100 former players, by recent count. The league had third-and-long defensive specialists and snapping specialists for punting but for many years, for its neurological expertise, the N.F.L. relied on a doctor who, well, knew nothing about brains.
But don’t worry, the owners are vigilant about something: they are all over the kneeling demonstrations by some players during the national anthem.
In other recent sporting developments, it turns out that the sainted Karolyis, Bela and Martha, had a glimmer of the widespread abuse by the now-convicted gymnastics doctor in Michigan.
Martha Karolyi heard about it years ago but, in classic boarding-school in-loco-parentis tradition, she did nothing to warn the girls and their parents. After all, she and Bela had to keep the production line humming at their gymnastics ranch in deepest Texas.
Then there is the National Hockey League, which traditionally tolerated the unofficial but very real job of “goon” – a player paid to fight opponents. To its credit, the league has cut back on mass brawls that were common a generation ago, but too late to help Jeff Parker, a former enforcer who died last year at 53 and was diagnosed, posthumously, as having
C.T.E., or chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
The N.H.L. seems to be taking its medical advice from the long-time avoidance tactics of the N.F.L. At least the N.H.L. does not stoop to confiscating passports from cheerleaders ferried out of the country.
Enough of this sordid business. It’s time for a truly clean sport: Coming up next month – from Russia! – the FIFA World Cup.
5/5/2018 01:58:22 pm
Why are cheerleaders a thing at all?
5/8/2018 06:12:21 am
From a Rhoden column of a few years ago, one owner keeps a tradition of his Father and Grandfather:
5/8/2018 08:36:30 am
Brian: thanks for remembering Rhoden's column. He's a good friend. I have known John Mara since he was a young ballboy at Giant camp. He and his dad and george young and Ernie Accorsi made me respect Giants and Mara values. What a great quote for Rhoden to use and you to remember. GV
Edwin W Martin
5/5/2018 05:01:02 pm
Time to forget about cheerleaders at all levels. Girls, women Excel at many sports and participate in virtually all.
5/6/2018 02:34:26 pm
Bravo. As always.
5/6/2018 07:26:03 pm
Dear Mendel, Ed and John: Thank you for the comments. It's shocking how many sordid stories can hit at once.
5/7/2018 12:26:10 pm
I can't watch (American) football anymore, not that I was ever a big fan. It is like watching slo-mo suicide or watching someone chain smoke for two hours.. Perhaps they can post a picture of each player's most recent brain scan along with his stats when they announce the starters. .We know too much now.
5/8/2018 08:40:20 am
I prefer the individual choices, offense and defense, in the real football. Footballers must make dozens and dozens of snap judgments -- sometimes sheer genius, sometimes disasters. GV
5/9/2018 04:18:06 pm
Janet Macur has done an excellent job covering many aspects of women’s sports over the years.
5/9/2018 07:39:57 pm
After 🤔 thinking about Alan’s observation on the girls and boys he coaches, it occurred to me, that maybe the boys should be the cheerleaders and the girls the “jocks.” ( we will need a new word.”
5/10/2018 08:41:05 am
Alan, Juliet was a rower at Columbia. And she is a great reporter -- her work on Lance Armstrong has been terrific.
5/10/2018 08:41:43 am
male/female (stuck keys) GV
5/10/2018 08:16:22 am
Ed--Lehigh was all male when I attended in the 1950's. The football team had two strong seasons then, 15-3. In 1957 their only loss was to 20th ranked VMI 12-7 with the game ending with Lehigh on VMI's 5 yard line.
5/10/2018 08:47:19 am
The real football doesn;t need cheerleaders because any crowd -- not just British singalong fans -- will rise to the flow of the match. But I do recall how nice it was to have a few fans for our home games at Jamaica High. One friend, Ronnie Hammer, came out to cheer; her kid brother Jerry Warshaw was on the squad....and one day the cheerleaders, gearing up for the basketball season, came out and cheered for us. Grover Cleveland played at Met Oval in Ridgewood -- the Colosseum of Queens -- and had real fans who knew the game. GV
5/10/2018 09:29:02 am
George, you are right about small crowds being very supportive. We changed sides every quarter back then, but came to the bench at half time. Friends would come close to the huddle and give words of praise or encouragement. Nice feeling.
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From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.