Summary of “The Culture War at the Heart of American Football”

The episode has served as a founding myth for the phenomenon of modern football, a game that now extends beyond sports.
Ever since, football has grown as a central institution in American life; on its face a truly multi-ethnic undertaking, one where common ground can be found between the lines and politics can be forsaken at least for a few hours.
While football and football media rose in stature as American institutions, other pillars were collapsing.
New York Times journalist Roy Reed wrote of a 1969 football Saturday in Birmingham that: “Football has probably replaced church-going as the number one social function in the South. And it’s more than just the favorite sport. It is now a religio-social past-time, a psychic device for the release of tensions and a vehicle for doing business.” Reed’s observation was correct, and football has supplanted religion even well beyond the South now, but the replacement has been seamless because football’s a lot like church.
As a civic religion, football has married Max Weber’s protestantische Ethik, American capitalism, the worship of great men, and the individual narratives of sacrifice and superhuman feats.
Even after Trump won the presidency, he returned to football often as red meat during rallies, bragging that his disparagement had been the cause of Kaepernick’s joblessness.
While many people expressed alarm earlier this year at the brazen militarism of Trump musing out loud about holding military parades on American streets for holidays, few fathomed that weekly football games already emulate the function of military parades, showcasing the kind of firepower that the country’s military uses to vaporize homes and flatten cities.
While comparisons of football and war are perhaps over-determined, in responding to that challenge, the NFL revealed itself to be a shade of America’s most enduring war, the one that cleaves brother from brother and threatens the foundations of power.

The orginal article.