“The NFL commercializes everything. No team can reach the other’s 20-yard-line without our getting a “Red Zone Update” named after some laxative or motor oil. The almost theological role of beer would require an essay of its own; we won’t even broach it. The dumbing-down is not just a side-effect in a profession where brawn matters. It is actually part of the ethos of NFL football in a way it is not in other sports. (“Duane, the key for this Tennessee defense today is gonna be to keep the Dolphins out of the end zone.” “That’s right, Darrell, and you gotta think Miami’s gonna wanna putta lotta points on the board.”) Those who credit feminism for the fact that 60 percent of undergraduate degrees now go to women should examine the role of football-watching before leaping to conclusions.” –Christopher Caldwell

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9 Responses to Quote of the Day: Football

  1. DaveinHackensack says:

    Caldwell can be astute, but he’s full of crap on that. Commercial sponsorship is part of every popular sport, and there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s the reason why we can watch NFL games free on TV. And the NFL isn’t even the most extreme example of commercialization. That would be Nascar, where they sell ad space on the uniforms and cars.

    He’s also off-base on his mockery of NFL analysts. Troy Aikman and Darryl Johnson, respectively, have been color guys on Giants games this season, and they’ve had made some subtle and intelligent comments about the action.

    Finally, the popularity of the NFL has absolutely nothing to do with the percentage of undergraduate degrees going to women. That has more to do with the feminizing of education in recent years, but it’s a red herring anyway. The girl who just served me my quad espresso probably has an undergraduate degree. Is she better off than man with a high school grad making $25 per hour in a Caterpillar plant? We have too many people going to college anyway today, and not enough of those high-paying blue collar jobs. That’s the bigger issue from a socioeconomic perspective, and the NFL has nothing to do with it.

  2. trumwill says:

    Hmmm, I think you took his comments a lot more seriously than I did. I mostly just found it as an amusing characterization.

    There is some pretty lame commentary in football nowadays. Truthfully, though, I think that is something that has gotten better rather than worse in the last 10 years.

    As for advertising, I have mixed feelings. It’s something that has gotten more aggressive across the board and it reaches the point of being obnoxious. They had games on TV long before they were selling the naming rights on red zone possessions or putting advertising on the home run fence in baseball. Rather than making it free, it think it does more in terms of paying for more, better (HD) cameras, more reporters and cameras for sideline interviews, and stuff like that. It’s a mixed bag. On the other hand, the yellow first line marker is definitely something worth enduring advertising for.

  3. ecco says:

    Have you actually talked to someone making $25.00 an hour in a caterpillar plant or has made $25.00 in a caterpillar plant? While in general I agree with you that the current education system is an needlessly expensive tax, I don’t think we should necessarily romanticize manufacturing work either. The $25.00 wage is a legacy of a previous age when there was a shortage of male labor and the factories would take high school graduates with no skills and induct them into a system of lifetime employment. Now a days you have to have a different set of skills to earn something like that either some sort of technical school training or technical school training done in the military. However, it is true that either option is considerably cheaper than higher education and probably better for another of students. Also, I think one of the bigger dangers if that currently cities are not fertile grounds for the flowering of new manufacturing ideas due to the current hostility to manufacturing. Anyway, sorry for the long comment.

  4. DaveinHackensack says:


    Typically manufacturers provide their own training for line workers. That’s the case, for example, with auto companies in the south. The $25 wage is not a legacy of a shortage of male labor. It’s a virtue of a relatively high margin, profitable business that it can support decent wages. I agree that the current lack of appreciation for manufacturing in some quarters is a problem. It’s a topic I’ve addressed on a few occasions (e.g., The nobility of manufacturing).

  5. trumwill says:

    I can’t speak for line-workers for Caterpillar or Toyota, but pipefitters (my ex-girlfriend Julie’s father was one) make some pretty good money, considering the education required. The welders and machinists at the fabrication plant I used to work at also did reasonably well. It’s not an easy line of work to get into, though. You need training to get the job and you need the job to get the training. Mostly, I think, you just need to know somebody.

  6. DaveinHackensack says:

    “Mostly, I think, you just need to know somebody.”

    That’s often true of union jobs, though unions usually deny it and say their apprenticeships are open to all applicants. I had a roommate in college whose father was a machinist in a glass factory. He got my roommate a full-time job there after he dropped out of college the first time — or before he went in, I forget the sequence. He was a bright guy who had taken a fairly circuitous path up until that point, one which included working at that glass factory full time; getting addicted to cocaine, and then going cold turkey after a heart scare; joining the Marines, busting his knee in training, and getting a medical discharge; working full time at a retarded house (he got me into that line of work briefly); etc.

    BTW, there was piece on college football in today’s FT you might find of interest. I can’t seem to find it on their site though. Caldwell also had a better-reasoned column on the whole Copenhagen situation.

  7. trumwill says:

    It’s true of non-union jobs, too, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it were more true of jobs that pay well but don’t need skills going into it. Knowing people in the IT field helps, but you also generally need to know IT-related things.

    I think this is the article you’re referring to. It’s a good one. I’ve actually been mulling over writing on the subject since I read an article about some Canadian universities wanting in.

    I’m not so sure about the author’s contention that having a good football team doesn’t attract better students. I think that’s often true, but I also think that Boise State University and the University of South Florida’s football teams turn enough young heads to make a difference. A good investment in and of itself? Probably not. But not a worthless investment.

    But I agree with the main point of the article, which is that even it adds a tangible benefit. Particularly in states that don’t field professional teams. Nebraska has gotten their money’s worth from NU ten-fold.

  8. DaveinHackensack says:

    Yeah, that was the article. I agree, he probably underestimates the benefits of college football.

  9. Kirk says:

    The set-up guys I work with make around $18/hour. A few make $22-$24/hour. You generally need a two-year degree in machining for these positions, but not always.

    That said, probably the best skill to have is ass-kissing! It never goes out of style.

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