Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cyberball 2009

For the record I consume a lot of sports information . I watch SportsCenter regularly, DVR "PTI", and listen to about two to three hours of Sports talk radio daily.

Something came across the airwaves today that I found quite interesting, and tapped into something I've been thinking about lately --> The effect of technology on people, systems and society. And I have also been thinking a lot about football, since it is the beginning of the professional and college football seasons. These things go hand and hand.

George Carlin in his famous bit called called football a "20th century technological struggle". And then went to make the very easy analogy that football is a metaphor for war, full charging into enemy territory, through the use of a "sustained ground attack" and "precision aerial assaults".
In football the players do not look human, more like superhuman. You cannot see their faces because of the helmets, and the pads and equipment the players wear make them look larger than life. The game, much like war, dehumanizes them, and maybe the people watching. The NFL is certainly aware of this, and they use it as a marketing tool. It is the team that matters, the logo on the helmet, not the person inside that matters. The players cannot take off their helmets while on the field. Lest to destroy the illusion that these are not super humans engaged in hand to hand combat for the pleasure of the cheering plebeians and treasures of sponsors and riches of owners, but just human beings like the rest of us. Quarterbacks are the only position that is really recognizable, and in most cases (aside from your Favre, Vick, Mannings and Bradys) only recognizable in their in hometown. Do you really think that any one is going to bother Trent Edwards if he was walking the streets of Seattle?

So the game is dehumanizing. So why is it so popular? Is it possible that we are becoming dehumanized too? Today's technology has allowed people to communicate with millions and millions of people instantly without seeing another person face to face, or leaving your house. So is the connection that the modern age provides us, does it really connect at all, really? People act a different way when they think no one is looking. How many pick-nose bugger eaters are their sitting in their cars compared to how many are walking on the sidewalk? This easily translates to how people interact with each other online compared to how they interact in person. A former classmate of mine when discussing this phenomenon told me a story of being on a blog comment page or something like that and disagreeing with someone there. She said "only online is responding to someone with whom you disagree with, with a picture of a cat's butt acceptable". Well it may not be acceptable, but it is funny, but I do see her point. Another classmate drew a connection between the online "Flaming" and the Town hall shenanigans that took place this August. People go to political blogs oget all enraged with the fiery rhetoric common on such sites and think that that is a way to behave in public.

Now back to football , on KJR AM this morning Sports Illustrated football editor Peter King was asked about former Seahawk quarterback, my childhood hero, and current Redskins Head Coach Jim Zorn and the possibility of him remaining at the helm of the Washington club after this season. Peter King said that he didn't stand much of a chance of retaining the job after the year because his team is most definitely the fourth best team of the NFC East. King said that it was too bad, because Mr. Zorn "is a real human being in a business that isn't filled with very many." No surprise there, not a lot of human beings in football. Because technology really has no need for humanity, and Carlin said "The technological struggle must go on." Maybe football is the most popular sport in America because not only does it reflects the ethic of capitalism (social darwinism, and advancing by exploiting opponnets weakness), but our increasingly dehumanized day to day life.

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