Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Dilly Dilly!

Sir Brad is ready to begin the Pit of Misery tour

Wild Card Weekend was wonderful. It was much too cold to go outside Saturday and Sunday here in Maine, but there were two football games between high-level teams to watch both days. What’s not to like? Next weekend will be similar: two games Saturday — including one with the hometown Patriots at Gillette Stadium — and two more on Sunday. Tremendous athletes at the top of their abilities will compete and I’m a football fan again.

Readers of this column know I’m a political junkie, studying the latest developments for at least two hours every day. I watch Sunday morning political programs on at least two networks, but when afternoon comes I don’t want any more politics. I want to watch football. This season, however, politics creeped into the game during the national anthem and that put a damper on Sunday afternoons for millions of us. It wasn’t good for the teams as they saw lots of empty stadium seats. It wasn’t good for TV networks or the NFL either because they lost viewers. I kept watching Patriots games but some of the shine had gone.

Mainstream media gave national anthem sit-downs and kneel-downs plenty of attention at first. Then it all backfired after President Trump weighed in and accused players of lacking patriotism. Many fans agreed and voted with their feet by staying away from games. They voted with their remotes by refusing to tune in at home on their TVs. Revenue declined. After that, media stopped their political coverage by refusing to film the playing of the national anthem before gametime. Politics went out the exits. Football fields went back to being exclusively athletic arenas and politics didn’t make the playoffs. Hurray for that.

When my family was young there wasn’t time to watch football, but by the Tom Brady era our nest had emptied and suddenly there was time. I could again experience total immersion in a sea of testosterone. Football is a male world and I hadn’t realized how much I missed it. Don’t misunderstand; I love women. I’ve been sleeping next to one for almost forty-seven years. I have a mother, four sisters, three daughters, two granddaughters and love them all. I also spent thirty-six years in education — a female-dominated profession. Even our two family dogs were females. Can I be forgiven if sometimes I prefer the exclusive company of men? Too bad if I can’t.

It’s not just the football that I enjoy. Televised games are full of commercials aimed at men too. They’re mostly ads for pick-up trucks and beer and some are very funny. In one, various people bring gifts of Bud Light beer to a medieval king, who thanks them by saying, “Dilly dilly!” Others present raise their bottles in toast and repeat: “Dilly-dilly!” Then, an unfortunate fellow puts some mead before the king, who is displeased. The king looks at him and says: “Please follow Sir Brad. He is going to give you a private tour of the pit of misery.” As the king’s torturer, Sir Brad, drags the poor guy away, others hold up their beers in toast, chanting: “Pit of misery! Dilly dilly!

The commercial doesn’t sound funny in the least, right? But somehow it is. There’s no explanation beyond that it probably reminds men of ridiculous things they’ve done and laughed about while drinking beer together. It’s 21st century code for, “Eat, drink, and be merry!” It’s completely unserious and beckons others to join the mirth. If “dilly dilly” has any real meaning, nobody can find it.

So what’s the purpose of football? What’s the point of eleven men carrying, throwing, catching, and kicking an oblong piece of inflated leather a hundred yards down a field while eleven other strong, swift men try to stop them? It’s a guy thing, like war without the killing. It satisfies something in the male psyche, but it’s not unrestrained violence. It has rules all participants must obey or be penalized, even ordered to leave the field. Players are judged by their physical ability which is remarkable, their mental acuity under pressure, their teamwork, perseverance, and heart.

And there’s nothing new in all this. The earliest Olympic Games in the 8th century BC were exclusively for men as I learned when visiting the site in 2014. Married women were banned both from competition and from viewing as well, but “maidens” were allowed. Why that distinction was made our guide didn’t say. Perhaps the “maidens” were an ancient equivalent of today’s cheerleaders. Perhaps it was because the men competed while oiled and naked, but then homosexuality was widespread in ancient Greece by some accounts. Maybe it was that.

Whatever the reasons for men wishing to spend time away from women once in a while, they go back a long way. It may have become politically incorrect in the 21st century, but it’s not going away.


Brian said...

First off, there is no evidence that ratings went down because of protests. The TV ratings took a dip between the 2015 and 2016 season when the matter of protests were not a factor. TV ratings are also more effected now by alternate watching methods like live streaming. Also, the rating dip Trump referred to was only the first two weeks of the season, in which Hurricane Irma was responsible for less viewing of football.

Calling the protest "unpatriotic" is just plain goofy. Let's say the protests were being done for another reason. Say that catholic churches countrywide were being raided by the feds, who would rough up churchgoers and ministers. Would it be unpatriotic for football players to kneel in protest then? Doesn't the flag represent our freedoms, including the freedom of free speech and protest? Didn't many, many brave soldiers die fighting for these ideals?

Anonymous said...

Uber_Fritz said...

An article in Forbes indicates that NFL ratings did, indeed, drop:

CJ Johnson said...

Great article Tom. Concise, precise, good advice.
We can tell when you have hit the nail when Brian comes out of the woodwork to criticize.
Keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

"They answered as follows: 32% said they stopped watching or attending NFL games “in support of Donald Trump”; 22% said “in solidarity with players kneeling”; 13% said “no interest in the teams playing”; 12% said “in support of Colin Kaepernick”; and 11% said “news about traumatic brain injuries among players.” Another 8% said “games are boring.” 46% chose “some other reason.” "

Brian said...

I'm not sure if the last post was trying to take a side, but it was interesting that more people were cited for not watching because they SUPPORTED the protests (the 34% that sided with the kneelers and Kaepernick vs. the 32% who blindly follow Trump)

I tried the Forbes link to see what they were going by but it didn't work. I'm not even sure why argument? Did the protests effect attendance? I doubt it, but who cares? Is this supposed to be some wider referendum on the popularity of Mr. lowest rated president ever? Even on this issue 68 percent of Americans felt that Trump’s comments were inappropriate, according to a survey by USA TODAY/Suffolk University. About the same percentage who don't approve of him in general. Tell yourself what you want, but elections have already began to make a statement, and just wait for November!

Anonymous said...

While I was negotiating a private used car sale, the seller informed me
Do NOT call during Glenn Beck! (Took a panel of five to replace HIM, before he went on to the BIG bucks.)
In fairness, in our house, it's...
Do NOT call during Jeopardy!
(The conversation it sparks is often more engaging than the "quiz" show.)

Anonymous said...

Leave politics out of football?

How is a protest against police brutality "politics" to begin with?

Anonymous said...

If you don't want the NFL "politicized" then I guess you don't want the National Anthem played at all.

Also, the players are not burning the flag, turning their back on it, etc.
The following is from Luke Bretherton, a professor of theological ethics:

"The act of kneeling in a stadium during the national anthem is, therefore, an act of good citizenship. Drawing on a rich Christian heritage, it venerates a foundational and transcendent good of democracy: the rule of law. Without the commitment that all be treated fairly before the law, whatever their color or creed, democratic citizenship is meaningless. If anyone is showing respect and deference to the American tradition, it is the players who have the courage to call on America to be all that it dreams it is."

Anonymous said...

I think "Dilly Dilly" COULD be a nod to
Ziggy Zaggy, Ziggy Zaggy, Oy! Oy! Oy!

Anonymous said...

Tom, nobody gives a hoot that you occasionally prefer the company of men and I have never heard mention that it is now considered to be "politically incorrect" to feel that way. Your apology is stupid. Where do you get these absurd ideas?

Face it said...

The radical right tends to make up excuses in order to foam at the mouth against "politically correct" liberals - take the so-called "war on Christmas" as a prime example.

The whole concept of "political correctness" is itself a farce. When the hyper sensitive right gets offended it is just a clear case of....well, I don't really know how they make the distinction, but they don't see themselves as being "PC", just offended.

"Claiming others are being politically correct is nothing more than a scapegoat term used to smear the other side of a discussion.

For something to be "Politically Correct," there would have to be some sort of political ideology that correctness identities with. Conservatives often use the term as a blanket complaint of Liberalism.

In the 90s, everyone's drunk uncle complained that it was because of "political correctness" that it was no longer acceptable to refer to black people as "coloreds." In their "Archie Bunker had some good ideas" world, things were so much better back when white people could just "speak their minds" without repercussions.

Nowadays, racist rants can get you fired... and apparently political correctness is to blame.

There is no such thing as "political correctness." Not when those who complain about the world being too easily offended find themselves so easily offended.

But that's not "PC," it's just the changing societal norms around you. Eighty years ago, negative stereotypes about the Polish were the norm and blackface was a popular form of entertainment.

Today, a majority of people would be shocked and offended by it. That kind of humor is not politically incorrect anymore; it's just incorrect.

Societal norms change all the time. It's nothing new."

-Ward Anderson

Rick said...

The hypocricy is astounding. How can people like Tom not see that getting into a tizzy because some football players are not doing the politically correct thing (standing for the national anthem) is being incredibly "PC", while in the same breath they are whining about others being PC!

Brian said...

If it actually were considered "politically incorrect" for men to get together without women to watch football, then that would indeed be a great example of being "PC" run amok. But there is a not so fine line between an example of silly "PC" and outright ignorant racism, such as displayed by Trump with his desire for Norwegian immigrants over those from "shithole" places like Haiti and Africa, a case of absolute textbook racism. We have now passed the point of Hillary's "half of Trump supporters are deplorable" to the vast majority being deplorable if they still support this obnoxious cretin.

The Daily Stormer, the largest neo-Nazi website online, welcomed Trump's reported remark, saying it was evidence he was "more or less on the same page with us."

“This is encouraging and refreshing, as it indicates Trump is more or less on the same page as us with regards to race and immigration,” the site said.

Neo Nazi's are on Trump's side with this....great company the other Trump supporters. These are some "very fine people" you stand with in support of our Fake-President.

Peter said...

It is sad that there are so few Republicans with enough of a backbone to stand up to Trump and his abhorrent behavior. What happened to the Republican party that my grandfather was proud of, the party of Lincoln?

GEORGE WASHINGTON: "The bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent and respectable stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions, whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment."

Stopp Planned Parenthood of Connecticut said...

Temptations, fighting not dallying with them.
As far as my president goes I'm very proud and happy the American people put a prolife, sound in mind, president in year ago. Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition, as my father used to say, especially on the anniversary of one of the most unjust laws in history, Roe v. Wade, this month.
As far as Hillary and the looney left goes, " You're a nut, nothing but, squirrels hang around you.

Anonymous said...

If you're a black person in the U.S. whose grown up in a poor area, you've almost certainly been exposed to police violence.
Player A, had one of his friends shot in the back by a police officer when he was standing with his hands raised over his head which was witnessed by 5 other people and the official ruling is killed resisting arrest.
There was a cop in Player B's town that would beat any black person found walking around alone after a certain time of night and just let him lie bleeding on the ground. When player B is nine years old, his older brother goes out late at night to buy medicine for their mother. He crawls back into the apartment a few hours later beaten to a pulp. He is never the same and dies young.

The NFL is 70% black. If you go around and talk to black players you can find hundreds of stories like these that have either happened to players or to someone that players care about. They decide to bring attention to this problem with a quiet peaceful protest that doesn't interfere with anything. The response is that they must hate america.

The reason that the games aren't being watched is that the games aren't very good. There are 16 teams in the AFC. The Patriots have been one of the best teams since the turn of the century. But there really are only 2 or 3 other teams that are close to the Patriots in the AFC and 4 or 5 in the NFC. Out of 32 teams there are maybe 7 or 8 real contenders and the remaining 25 or so teams don't have a chance. Many teams repeatedly make mistakes that a high school team would get yelled at for.

One example, the Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the top teams in football. They played the Patriots a few weeks ago in the regular season. Very near the end of the game, they scored what appeared to be the winning score. By rule the score was reviewed by a referee in NY. Now if you watch football, it is quite common for the referee in NY to see something on tape that wasn't seen live and reverse the call. Once the review started, the Patriots used the two minutes or so to plan what they would do in the unlikely event that the touchdown was overturned. The Steelers stood around cheering and high fiving each other. The call was overturned. The Patriots lined up knowing exactly what they were going to do. The Steelers had absolutely no plans and 10 seconds to line up and snap the ball. Different coaches gave different orders to the team. The Steelers players had no clue what the plan was and in the total confusion that followed the Steelers Quarterback threw an interception that lost them the game. Of course, the response around the country was that the Patriots cheated.

You see teams all over america doing things that a well prepared high school team wouldn't do. Clock management at the end of the game is terrible. Players forget to run out of bounds to stop the clock near the ends of games. Players commit foolish penalties right in front of the refs. In the Patriots game last week, James White for the Patriots scored a touchdown. A player from the other team pretty much body slammed him to the ground after the play was over and punched him in the face when he started to get back up. Lucky for him the penalty wasn't called.

If you're the fan of a team that loses close games by foolish decisions by coaches and players over and over again, it gets to the point that the games aren't worth watching.

In football today, there are only a handful of really good quarterbacks and a handful of really good head coaches. The Patriots have both and that's why they are in the Superbowl.