I was stunned recently to hear Joe Scarborough, co-host of my favorite morning magazine on cable show, Morning Joe Presented by Starbucks, state that there was no way his children would ever “play football.” A few things must be noted first, before I assert his statement was ridiculous, churlish, petulant and girlish.
Joe Scarborough is a decent human being, a compassionate conservative and a passionate advocate of causes in which he believes. He is a southerion by birth, a native of Atlanta, raised the pan-handle of Florida, in the port city of Pensacola. He is a protestant who graduated from a Roman Catholic High School, matriculated to the University of Alabama, and received his law degree from the University of Florida. He has practiced law, served his country as a United States Congressman, elected by his constituents three times, and currently is co-host, along with Willie Geist, and the beautiful and brainy Mika Brzezinski, of the Morning Joe show on the somewhat liberal cable network, MSNBC. I am providing this back ground information on the likely chance that you are not one of the half-million or so viewers of the show, and really don’t know Joe.
He is also, regrettably, a soccer fan, or more correctly, a soccer fanatic. What a flaw in a man of such character, in a man of such intelligence; Joe Scarborough, a sniveling Euroamerican!
Don’t misunderstand me, soccer is a wonderful game for children. The kids run helter-skelter back and forth across a grassy field, building cardiovascular capacity, their skin churning out vitamin D, their boyish hair and girlish locks bouncing in the wind. The game is not about winning or losing, it is not even about scoring! It’s about a day, a beautiful day in the neighborhood, with shiny black BMW’s, violet Volvo’s and maroon Mercedes’ lined neatly along the graveled rows lining the “pitch.” It’s about children sweating, not a characteristic of modern youth, and about socialization, and socialized society, and political correctness, and “can’t we all just get along.” Above all, its about being nice, not hitting or tripping anyone, or anyone up, and most significantly, looking down at your feet. Don’t yell, don’t hurt, be nice. Be French!
Joe, what the hell are you thinking! In the same conversation in which you cast dispersions on playing football, you admitted that you played football in high school, perhaps even earlier. You seemed pained at the recollection of the experience. Third String Joe? Bench warmer? Get the snot knocked out of you, and for what? Never scored, you look like a flanker or split end, did they have you at tackle, were you a pulling guard? Come on Joe, say it ain’t so, tell us you played every down, went both ways, you were a real 60 minute man.
What a horror it must have been to attend two football schools, ‘Bama and Florida. Did those jocks get your girl, those bullies kick sand in your face? Tuscaloosa and Gainesville, towns without pity for a closet soccer lover. How it must have grated on your nerves to hear the cheering crowds, to smell the waffling scent of tailgate BBQ. To see coeds flushed crimson, not quaffing a pint, but guzzling brew.
Soccer is a European game, it is game that teaches boys how to grow into men that run. And run they do. They learn not to hit, but to dodge; not to knock, but to skirt. Oh, no doubt somewhere in the highlands, some kilted retired Black Watch Scotsmen are playing it rough, but Joe, it was well said the “the wars of England were won on the fields of Eton.” A noble sentiment indeed, but when has England last won a war? Or France, or Germany, or those cute little meso-americans who kicked heads across temple flats.
America, modern America, is born of leaders who played football, or who wished they could. Unlike soccer, football teaches us to hit, to be hit; to hurt, to be hurt. We find that pain isn’t so bad, that we can handle physical blows to the body, that we can be knocked senseless and rise and survive. Unlike soccer, football teaches us the absolute importance of teamwork; eleven men to a side, all doing what is critical to the success of others. Funny, for most of the twentieth century there were eleven men in a rifle squad, which in multiples comprised a platoon, which made up a company, a brigade, a division.
Chance Joe, just by chance, eleven? There is no scrimmage in soccer, no plays, just continuous movement, and a concern to do your own job well. If you fail, someone else, some Pele or Maradona will bedazzle the retreating…note the word… defense man in front of him, and once or twice an hour, there will be a score. Not really like we have heard combat described, is it?
And Joe, consider this. I am certain that the game of football is the reason we never had a second Civil War in America. At the very time young men whose father’s had died in defense of their state’s, their sovereign rights; and those whose father’s lived in the wound of defeat, at the age when manhood flowers, at that very time, football was invented! Auburn defeated Georgia, February, 1892! Why kill Yankees when we can knock the snot out of ourselves.
There we have it Joe. A game that saved a nation from civil war; a game that taught us coordinated team work based on planning and execution of set plays reflecting well considered strategy’s; a game that taught the players how to improvise, how to change tactics when faced with defeat; a game that defined the character of the finest generation of Americans, the generation that saved us from Hitler and Tojo; and finally, lead by a football player who became the actor who played the “gipper,” defeated the soviet menace and spared us nuclear holocaust.
Joe, are you serious? So you weren’t good enough, so you didn’t score or they didn’t yell your name at the pep rally, or the girl you wanted went instead with the quarterback.
Look at you, you are a good, decent man; a public servant, an incipient media mogul. And you’ve got your own show, and the company each week-day morning of the beautiful and intelligent Mika; ya, and Willie too. Football, it seems to me was good for you, and Joe, it wouldn’t have hurt your sons.