Football season is upon us, and there are plenty of reasons why this moment in big time football is very intriguing from a sociological perspective. More specifically, most of the major offseason storylines of both professional and collegiate football tell us much about the racial politics in big time football and the negotiations of race and sports in the media.
Update: Johnny Manziel makes the cover of Time Magazine.
In the wake of the U.S. Superbowl on Sunday, news sources and social media outlets are reporting on the notorious commercials that accompanied the big game. With every year, the Superbowl commercials seem to become a bigger spectacle. Anticipation and expectations are always high. Viewers tune in to see commercials that are greater, funnier, and more elaborate. Perhaps not coincidentally, the commercials seem to become more controversial and even more offensive. Viewers, commentators, and journalists now are quick to note the sexist, racist, and generally problematic nature of these commercials.
For example, the Audi commercial has created controversy for its presentation of masculinity and its reference to sexual assault. In this commercial, a teenage boy is getting ready for his prom. It seems as though he is not a popular guy in his school and so he sets out for the prom on his own. Luckily, his parents lend him their Audi for the occasion. Once in the Audi, the teenager is transformed. Girls look at him differently. He feels powerful and self-assured. He arrives at the school, parks in the principal’s designated spot, and walks confidently into the prom. At this point, he finds a beautiful teenage girl, grabs her, and kisses her without her permission. Though she is surprised at first, she eventually appears to give in. The girl’s boyfriend, on the other hand, is not impressed. The final scene of the commercial is the teenage boy driving away with a black eye, probably given to him by the enraged boyfriend. Though he has a black eye, he seems triumphant with his conquest for the night.
Earlier this year, many retired football players and their families filed a class-action lawsuit against the NFL. The complaint states that the NFL hid evidence of the dangers of the game, dangers like brain damage from repeat concussions and sub-concussive trauma. New research indicates that the repetitive beatings that football players experience over the course of their career causes irreparable damage to their brains, leading to cognitive, emotional, and functional problems similar to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. Several players committed suicide after repeat concussions left them with depression and mood swings, and many others continue to suffer memory loss, cognitive impairment, and balance problems.