Does Their Money Ease Our Conscience?

Like many Americans and people around the world this week, I am counting down the days until Sunday.  That’s right, Superbowl Sunday, when we sit down with our family and friends to watch the culmination of another football season.  A victor will be crowned, a loser will be vanquished, and all will be right with our American way of life.  But what does the game teach us about who we are?

Let’s start with the offense.  Their goal is to move down the field and enter the end zone carrying the football.  If anyone is in their way, such as the defense, they are told they must physically go through and over them.  The defense on the other hand has the assignment of taking something from the current owner, namely the offense, by force. There are referees in place to make sure things don’t get “too” violent, but it is perfectly legal for an exceedingly well conditioned two hundred and fifty pound man to smash another such man with a five to ten yard running start.   He just can’t lead with his head.  If a player of any amount of years as a professional goes through his whole career mostly receiving legal hits, he is still likely to have trouble walking by his early fifties.  But as the saying goes, “He left it all out on the field.”

However, that’s just the legal part of the game.  What about the shadier side?  Can anyone honestly believe that players achieve these giant, sculpted bodies with just diet and exercise?  I believe the league catches only a fraction of the players that use steroids and that it does not want to find more.  It would hurt revenues and too much business relies on these Goliath’s padding up and smashing into one another.  We know this as fans, but we just want to see a good game and chatter in the morning about the hustle and dedication the players have, regardless of the toll it takes on them down the line.

As I see it there are two things that differentiate us from the ancient Romans in our love of sport.  One is that our gladiators don’t fight to the death, and two they are not slaves but individuals that make ungodly sums of money.  It’s this second part that really gets to the core of who we are as a people.  In a free and capitalist society we admire those who put themselves out there and succeed, but also think them less worthy of concern because they are well paid.

Mitt Romney made a lot of money and received much praise as a businessman.  He lost the presidency but got to physically walk off into retirement afterwards.  I hope the same will be true of Tom Brady after he takes his final snap.  Now back to the game.

Article originally appeared in Yahoo Voices

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Tom McKeown was recently the CEO and Co-founder of TrenData, which was acquired by isolved HCM in 2021. He currently manages the product team and business unit for their People Analytics offering.

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