War on Football. Those three words are about as inflammatory as it gets in modern American society. Everything is a war. Every group feels under attack. And football is the nation’s IV drip on Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. Don’t you dare take that away.
That’s the problem with Danny Kanell’s original position this week, which to be fair, he has softened on. There is no War on Football, it’s just a perfectly constructed phrase in its five-alarm howling. It can be hashtagged, splashed on screen in graphic form, repeated endlessly inside the internet echo chamber. War on Football. I mean, you have to hand it to him. It’s pretty perfect. I kinda wish I had thought of it.
I’ve met Kanell, and he seems like a good guy. We both worked at WQAM in Miami a few years ago. I once told him a story about how my parents bought me his Giants jersey for Christmas when I was in high school. I politely told them, “Mom, Dad, thank you. But we’re gonna have to exchange this. He’s not gonna be in this league long.” I returned it for a Robert Brooks’ Packers jersey. Kanell laughed when I told him.
I’ve got nothing personal against Kanell, and even he admitted this week to the New York Daily News, “it was probably a little bit of hyperbole.” In many ways it opened up the topic of player safety at all levels yet again. That’s never a bad thing. The problem is these types of instantly flammable words and ideas tend to catch fire, and poison the discussion. That’s what happened this week.
It fits this narrative that in a politically correct world yet another piece of good ol’ fashioned Americana was being snatched by the wussification crowd. And football is at the emotional crux of our country right now. But if there is a “war” or “attack” on anything sports-related it’s head trauma, not football. When MLB banned collisions at the plate, was that a “War on Baseball?” Now that headgear is mandated for some youth soccer players is that a “War on Soccer?” Head shots being eradicated by the NHL is a “War on Hockey?”
Of course not. There might be some bellyaching about over-governing, but no one frames those changes as an assault on America, because those sports don’t hold the same emotional control over us as football. Making those sports safer is seen as an evolution of the sport, not an attack on what we hold dear. I always cringe at the buzz words “war” and “attack” because it immediately taps into our ingrained human protective instincts, the fight or flight response. What happens when you’re attacked? You react. You defend. You don’t reason. You don’t think. And that’s what elected leaders and the media has taught us to do. React. Don’t think.
To read the rest of Damon Amendolara’s column visit CBS Sports where it was originally published