Mercifully, college football can now be ignored in my timezone.
I doubt many around the land will tune in to Monday’s CFP national championship game—the emerging news that America’s wilting and confused commander-in-chief will be there is even more reason to skip the non-event.
The teams in question are Georgia and Alabama, squads from the same college football division, the SEC. Their campuses are approximately 275 miles apart. While Athens, GA, the town that spawned the B-52s and REM can be considered the more progressive of the two, Tuscaloosa, AL did just help put a Democratic senator into office, a feat not accomplished in Alabama since the early ‘90s.
But, for the fleshy, southern-fried football-loving republic that can afford (and still cares) to take a day or two off work just after the holidays to overpay for filler seats and watch an early spring intra-conference scrimmage in Atlanta Monday, verily, they will ultimately be disappointed—if not alone both physically and ideologically.
Which is why I’m assuming the 45th and perhaps final (if he has anything to do with it) democratically elected president of the United States will be in attendance grimacing like the white guy plantation owner he aspires to be, laughing Jabba-like from behind the bullet-proof glass near the rafters of Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Mind you, this is the same Trump who wouldn’t dare do what all presidents do and throw out a ceremonial first pitch during last spring’s MLB opening day. The chorus of boos and detritus raining down upon him at Nationals Park last April would have been a systemic rebuffing of his ineptitude—which is now, thanks to a salacious new book from Michael Wolff, known to be more robust than feared.
Here is a man whose brain has shriveled like burnt bacon from its peak mediocrity two decades ago, a diseased sponge subsisting off the battery acid flavor of Diet Coke and the raw gristle of McDonald’s cheeseburgers (in bed). Three hundred plus pounds of gas station nacho cheese dumped in a mound back by the dumpster, spiked with hatred and capped by a surgically reduced scalp. The whole package, wrapped, pig-in-a-blanket-style, in a cheap suit’d ball of lament, grandiosity, forgetfulness and ignorance—and blessed by a tiny and disappearing minority of the republic who dares see their image in him, who dares pitch our system of tolerance and forbearance overboard for an aspiring and incapable autocrat.
It is this cohort I want to discuss briefly. It is the white people, all self-loathing and afraid of the actual future of this country—one that they surely will not and do not plan to see—that will be in attendance and tuning in, to a person, to this game.
The folks who hark back to the good-ol’-days of black and white TV, giant, rumbling SUVs and houses with lawns stretching out as far as the sit-down mower would take them. Before their sons and daughters moved off to the city and got in a relationship with someone brown, or of the same gender, or brown and of the same gender! Before their grandchildren had kinks in their hair and lovely cocoa skin, before their warblings and rantings were tuned out at the family table in favor of whatever was playing on their devices.
Summarily, Trump is visiting this misbegotten faction because, very similar to his rallies, this is when he can get his fix of a bunch of cranky, dying, misinformed white people who are gripping onto ideals that passed them by five decades back. They are his base. This calcified blob are all he’s got. And vice versa.
Regardless of what institution prevails, the real losers of this game will be the actual players on the field. Young men, most of whom from untenable economic circumstances, who somehow—through untold physical gifts and a work ethic unparalleled—have made it to the top of the amateur rankings of their sport. Even so, fewer than two percent who are feted Monday, even those who hoist a giant silver vulva trophy with red and white confetti stuck to it, will not make a single dime off playing football. They are, to a person, indentured servants to a profit machine. And they are, to a person, sacrificing years if not decades from their lives by smashing into one another as emerging science shows just one collision can have dire effects on their viability to come not so many decades from now.
Here on the West Coast, it’s easy to tune out. The weather is unseasonably warm, which means are trees are dying, rapidly. But the sun (for now) still sets over the Pacific and the days are getting slightly longer. Our own college football teams unilaterally had seasons ending in the abyss as Pac-12 coaches fled or got fired in twos and threes. The result, most weren’t up to the task of trying to compete in their respective bowl games. Why bother when nothing’s on the line? Many elite players set to enter this April’s NFL draft sat the post-season altogether or only played a handful of downs as to not spoil a career with a torn ACL in a garbage late-December last-ditch money grab by their respective institutions.
I think football is spiraling here in the West Coast in general. I am representative of a tiny cohort, but none of the folks I know, even those who played—some through college—want their kids anywhere near to sport, or even follow it all that much anymore. There are other youth endeavors to chew away their weekends: swimming, tennis, lacrosse, water polo, soccer, dance, basketball, baseball, junior guards, volleyball, running, skateboarding, surfing, pottery, poetry slams—even team Lego builds, that are from the near distance safer, more affordable and more sustainable activities.
Over the next decade, I expect to see the quality of prep and collegiate football deteriorate rapidly here in the PST. And that’s fine. When I look out at the sea of football lovers that exists today, and their dear leader, it sickens me to the extent that no longer being a part of it… just feels right.