Tag Archives: football

Taking a Page from a Different Playbook

As I have stated many times before, I am a huge football fan.  College or Pro – it doesn’t matter.  I am a fan and have been for as long as I can remember.  As a small child I recall begging my mom and dad to buy me a pair of Dallas Cowboys shoes out of the Sears and Roebuck catalog circa 1978.  I lugged my school books around Pulaski Elementary in a Cowboys book bag that was bigger than I was.  Football is something I have never grown out of and likely never will.

Sadly there is a lot about college and professional football I don’t like.  You may have read some of my previous posts about that.  It seems we can barely go a month without reading another headline about some player being arrested for beating his girlfriend or for raping a stripper.  Stories of homophobia, violence, drugs, and murder at the hands of current and former players seem to be rolling on a continuous loop.  They have become the dominant narrative for football and sports in general.

Yet from time to time a story emerges from the abyss that blind sides us like Demarcus Ware coming unblocked on a jailbreak blitz.  They are stories that are shocking, not because they are horrific or disturbing, but because they go against everything we’ve been taught to believe about football players.  During the week of the 2010 Superbowl,  two of those stories managed to find the light of day.

The first was in the days prior to the game.  I read an article at Jezebel.com about New Orleans Saints linebacker Scott Fujita.  In the article I learned that Fujita had recently given an interview with the New York Times where he “diplomatically but firmly” opposed the Tim Tebow ad that eventually aired during the Superbowl.  While I thought it strange that a football player would publicly state his stance on such a hot button issue, I didn’t think too much else about it.  However, from that same article in Jezebel, I learned that Fujita also lent his name to the 2009 National Equality March and has been quite outspoken on many gay rights issues. Now that got my attention!  Why was this story not dominating sports headlines in October of 2009?  Fujita’s surprises don’t stop there.  Check out the entire Jezebel article here.

The second story came moments after the Superbowl ended.  Amidst the boom mic jungle and the on-field  mass hysteria, television cameras caught something extremely rare and beautiful.  Take a look… [watch it a second time with the sound muted ;-)]

With the world intently watching their every move, it was as if Brees and his son were the only two people in the stadium.  During the most watched event in television history we witnessed an NFL champion football player turn into a world class dad.  Brees could have just as easily handed his son off to his wife or a nanny and celebrated with his teammates.  It would have been fine for is son to be in the stands or at home getting a wave or a wink from the Superbowl MVP.  Nobody would have even questioned it.  Instead, on the biggest of stages, we saw a caring father telling his son that he loves him.  We saw a father holding, hugging, and kissing his son in exactly the ways we, as men and as fathers, have been socialized to not do because it isn’t considered “manly.”  And as if that weren’t enough, we witness the moment where the enormity of it all hit Brees right in the heart.  It was the moment he realized that he was sharing this incredible moment with the most special person in the world to him.  And then, his brow buckled, his head turned and his eyes filled with tears of joy.  That was truly a beautiful moment that I feel fortunate to have seen.

What am I taking away from all of this?  Well, I realized that as an armchair media critic I often lose site of the good stuff in the media.  It is sometimes a little harder to find, but it is there.  I guess in some ways when I blog about the latest Axe Body Spray ad I am also recirculating that ad into the media landscape.  I am not sure that is a bad thing, but it is a missed opportunity to recirculate stories like these.  So, I am going to take a page out of the Scott Fujita/Drew Brees playbook and, well, throw out the playbook every now and again. I am going to  look for media examples that highlight positive masculinity, uplift and empower women and model the world I want to see rather than the one I’ve got.  In the meantime, I hope that other men will take some plays from their playbook as well.  Or…we could all get together and draw up a few of our own in the dirt.

Go deep on 2…ready…BREAK!

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Beer Me!

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*taken from The Inactivist Blog

I love beer!  Not in the “if I drink enough of it I will forget my troubles” sense.  I love it because it is a refreshing, relaxing, interesting, complex, thirst-quenching roller of good times.  We can come together over a beer and talk about the world’s problems or the stupid things we did in high school (or still do).  Not to mention it is the perfect way to wash down a pile of Buffalo Wings from any place other than Hooter’s (I really need to blog about them – stay tuned).  Ah, beer.

Sadly, the beer industry does some pretty hefty social and environmental damage as it cranks out gallon after gallon of the golden nectar.  The industry has made a habit out of sexualizing and objectifying women to make a profit.  Companies like Budweiser, Miller and Coors are notorious for using images of scantily clad women in their advertisments.  Who could forget the Coors Light TWIIINNS???

Of course this is just one example out of literally thousands and thousands of print ads, tv commercials, billboards, and internet ads that bombard the advertising landscape from September to February.  Why you ask???  The answer is simple – football season.  This is a time of year that companies desperately clamor for the business of men by appealing to their inner man.  Sexy women doing sexy things in sexy clothing is one of the main sales mechanisms employed by these large beer companies.  In a hypermasculine culture, sexism sells.

This type of advertising is damaging in several ways.  Obviously, it objectifies and sexualizes women.  This teaches men and boys to value women for their looks and sexuality first (if not only).  It also teaches women and girls that in order to gain the interest of a male, you must behave in a sexual way – even if you aren’t interest in actually having sex.  It also socializes men to believe that men must act like the men in the commercials in order to be a “real man” or perhaps more accurately all men should behave like the men in the commercial because that is what is normal.  Naturally, if men are taught that women are sex objects that are available to them at any time and women are taught to behave sexually even if they aren’t interested in having sex, then you are bound to have scenarios in real life where men force themselves on women sexually.

Environmentally speaking, the beer industry makes a significant ecological footprint.  On the whole, the industry uses nearly 500 million tons of grains every year.  Since beer isn’t chunky, you have to wonder where all of the grain goes after it has been boiled and the sugars extracted?  In the pre-Budweiser days, smaller breweries would give their “spent” to local farmers who would used it for cattle feed.  This was a tremendous help to farmers and breweries.  It even kept costs lower on beer and dairy products because a production expense has been eliminated (there must be someting to this symbiosis thing after all).  Also, think about the amount of waste that is created during this time of year from the number of bottles and cans of beer consumed is staggering.  What about the massive amounts of petroleum products it takes to deliver the beer across the country to every grocery, liquor store, quick mart and bar in America?  The industry’s environmental load is taxing to say the least.

So, what should an Inactivist do?  Consider drinking craft beers or microbrews made in your state (or locally if possible).  Here is why:

1.  Smaller, independent breweries typically spend their advertising budget (if they have one) on showing you how good the beer is rather than using half naked women to divert your attention from the actual taste of the beer – AND TWIIINNS!!!  Taking your money out of the large corporate pockets just might get those companies to evaluate their advertising practices.

2.  If you buy your beer from a producer that is in your town or in your state, then you are helping to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil and cutting down on the automobile emissions that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere, and helping local farmers keep their feed costs low.

3.  Buying locally made beer supports the people who live in or near your community.  Keeping your money local will help put food on the table for people who are trying to do things the right way and it send a loud and clear message to the large beer companies.

I did a quick Google search for “TEXAS BEER” since I live in Austin.  The first listing that popped up was http://texasbeer.blogspot.com.  Here I found a great list of existing craft beer breweries all in the state of Texas.  I have had most of these beers myself and they are quite good.  I especially like “Fireman’s 4” made by Real Ale Brewing  Company in Blanco, Texas (70 miles from my door) and “Blonde Bombshell” by Southern Star Brewing Company in Conroe, Texas (200 miles from my door).  Honorable mention has to go to “Live Oak Pilz” from Live Oak Brewing Company right here in Austin.

I encourage you to do a quick google search of your own to see what beers can be found in your neck of the woods.  You just might stumble on something you really like.  Craft beers might cost a few dollars more, but you can’t put a price justice.

Here’s to making the world a better place 12 ounces at a time this football season and beyond.

BeerMeWordle

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Worth a Thousand Words

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So I am wondering which words you would choose to describe the advertising practices of Nikon – the camera company. Take a look at some of these Nikon ads:

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Sadly Nikon, like so many companies, has chosen to exploit women to sell their products. We’ve come to expect it from beer companies and the like (not that being a beer company makes it alright), but a camera company??? Seriously? I mean do they really think they are going to sell more cameras by showing “hot girl on girl action”?

I am honestly insulted that companies resort to this tactic. I consider myself to be a typical guy who like a lot of stereotypical guy things. I like football, buffalo wings, classic cars and stupid movies. However, I am smart enough to recognize that when companies use women’s sexuality to sell their products they are degrading and marginalizing women. That allows men to see women as sex objects rather than human beings. It is in that space that domestic and sexual violence exists.

I know that a lot of men who will read this will say that there is nothing wrong with “sexy”. In fact, my friend Andy said those exact words when I was encouraging him to stop buying American Apparel t-shirts. I told him about their horrible advertising practices like this:

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I get that these images are intended to be arousing so that we, as men, associate that feeling with that product (that sounds strange but it is true). It is about pleasure. If we associate a product with a pleasurable feeling, we are more likely to buy it. Some men can’t see past the sexual nature of these images and see the real damage they cause. In fact, this never registers with most men until a woman close to them experiences domestic or sexual violence. It is time for men to be enlightened.

Most men are good guys who believe that violence against women is wrong. They just don’t realize how violence against women comes about and why it still exists. They also don’t realize that they may be contributing to it by supporting these companies (and thousands of others), by laughing at a sexist joke, or by staring at a woman’s chest instead of her eyes during a conversation. These things seem innocent enough and are an accepted part of our culture, but this is where men must check themselves and each other. We must begin to change our culture so that these sorts of behaviors no longer go unchecked or unnoticed. If we do this, we will begin to create change. It will take time, but it will happen. It starts now…

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A Little “Rey” of Sunshine

It seems that there is a never ending stream of men, who are in the national spotlight, that perpetuate sexism and violence against women. From athletes to actors to politicians they just keep on coming. The latest example is USC Linebacker, Rey Maualuga. To celebrate the Trojan’s 2009 Rose Bowl victory, Rey decided to have a little fun with ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews. Take a look…

Many would argue that Maualuga was just having a little fun or that his actions were harmless. On message boards everywhere, men and women are dismissing this incident as no big deal. They are saying that Erin Andrews should have a tough skin and should expect this sort of treatment. After all, this is what happens to a woman on the sideline of a football game, right? Others are saying that the dance wasn’t derogatory or sexual. However, it is clear to me that it was. If you think it was not, ask yourself this – would Maualuga do the same thing to a teammate? A coach? A male reporter? Of course not. In the hyper-masculine and heterosexist world of NCAA football and male culture in general, he would be risking his social standing (regardless of his actual sexual orientation) because dancing like that behind another man implies homosexuality. It’s like the scene from Pulp Fiction were Jules Winfield was trying to convince Vincent Vega that foot massages aren’t sexual. Vincent makes his point with one simple question – “Would you give a man a foot massage?” Jules simply but definitively replied “Fuck you.”

It is time for people to stop making excuses for this sort of behavior. Maualuga’s actions clearly reinforce the notion that it is OK for men to treat women as less than equal or as sex objects. As long as this is the norm things like domestic violence and rape will continue to have a place in our world. Just listen to the reaction of the guys watching from the stands. They quickly cheered him on and praised him for treating her that way. The message was loud and clear for those men and many others that have seen it since. Maualuga needs to step up, be a real man, and sincerely apologize for this. Then he needs to volunteer at a rape crisis center or domestic violence shelter for about 6 months so he can see the real impact of sexism. Perhaps he will also realize that his actions weren’t too bright after all.

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