Thursday, 22 September 2011

Fumbling Freedom at the NFL

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I’m not much of a football fan. In fact, we can broaden that to say I loathe every sport but Scrabble. If the entertainment involves chasing a ball, count me out.

Thank God I’ve endured only one football game in my life, when a friend with two free tickets dragged me to see Giants or Yankees or something. But I managed to grab a book before he trussed me and threw me in the back of his car. Burying my nose in its pages kept me from dying of boredom while men who were old enough to know better scrimmaged for home runs or whatever it is they do.

So I could be wildly mistaken in my impression of football’s average enthusiast. But I’ve always assumed he’s blessed with an abundance of testosterone. And that he doesn’t take kindly to another guy’s even noticing his “junk,” let alone massaging it on the preposterous pretense that explosives lurk there.

I’m as ignorant of the NFL as I am of sports. But I’ll bet that money drives the League, that while its executives may enjoy watching players putt or whatever, their ultimate concern is the bottom line. Bingo: the NFL’s “Constitution and Bylaws” defines the “purpose and objects for which the League is organized” as “promot[ing] and foster[ing] the primary business of League members, each member being an owner of a professional football club located in the United States.” Sans subsidies, such “promoting and fostering” requires pleasing customers. And sexually assaulting them generally displeases them. Big-time.

So my jaw nearly hit the floor when I read that the “NFL wants all fans patted down from the ankles up this season…” What? And why? The usual excuse, of course: sexually molesting people protects them.

We might well ask what the NFL is protecting them from. Silly me, I thought slipping in a puddle of spilled beer was about as dangerous as watching football got. But what do I know? Perhaps the field’s murder and mayhem regularly invade the stands; maybe massacres with thousands of casualties thin rooters’ ranks. Indeed, “NFL officials have contended that pat-down searches, which began in 2005, provide an essential layer of security in an age of constant terrorism threats.”

Oh, come off it: Are you big, brawny footballers or little ‘fraidy cats? Only one of those alleged threats concerned football, and it was a hoax that the Feds, as usual, ballyhooed into a crisis. Which confirms my suspicion that indigestion from the tailgate-party is a spectator’s greatest peril. And the NFL itself tacitly admits this: it devotes an entire webpage to “Health & Safety” — of athletes, not aficionados. So insisting that a good grope “improve[s] fan safety” becomes all the more offensive.

And inexplicable: why would professional football teams — which provide no essential service or product, whose supporters buy tickets with discretionary dollars, and whose attendance has steadily declined since the NFL began attacking customers, angering them so much that one sued — deliberately antagonize those devotees still forking over megabucks for a seat?

Whenever a private party’s policies seem wasteful, self-defeating and downright stupid, look for the State’s involvement. And indeed, the Feds have steadily suborned not only the NFL but “dozens of other companies and organizations” by granting them “exemption from lawsuits…” It seems “a post-9/11 law … prohibits them from being sued if terrorists attack a site they are protecting. The law, called the SAFETY Act (Support Anti-terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies) … guarantee[s] they will not pay any claims that terror victims might file after an attack.”

And what do the Feds take from this deal? The League and the “dozens of other companies and organizations” sign on to the agenda of installing a police-state: “The NFL got the protection after the government approved the league's nine-page stadium-security guidelines.”

No wonder the NFL pretends that "pat-downs are an important part of our comprehensive security procedures, including secure facility perimeters and bag searches … These limited, consensual security screenings are designed to enhance the protection and safety of our fans."

Where have we heard that before? Yep, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) paws passengers at checkpoints with the same excuse: that fondling us protects us. The TSA even lends the NFL its euphemistic jargon as the latter prattles about “implementing an enhanced pat-down procedure.”

At Our Rulers’ urging, the NFL has sexually assaulted some of football’s fans for six years; now it threatens to manhandle all of them. Time to remember where your spines are, gentlemen, and tackle the League’s vile “partnership” with the DHS. And yes, that’s easy for me to say since I care diddly about football. But by staying home, you could roll back the police-state, one game at a time.

Boycott the NFL, I say.

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