The NFL Draft and America First

NFLDraft2019-1024x512
What a spectacle!

W.J. Astore

Every year, I watch a little of the NFL draft, one of America’s most revealing cultural displays.  This year the draft was held in Nashville over two nights and one day.  The NFL claimed 200,000 people showed up in Nashville for the draft, and indeed the outdoor audience resembled a mass political rally.  Video boards and celebrities were everywhere.  Last year, I wrote about the draft here, and so I won’t repeat those arguments.  Suffice to say the draft is a massive commercial for the NFL and a massive exercise in nationalism.

Of course, the NFL is at pains to celebrate the military, and the military is at pains to boost recruitment, which lately has been disappointing.  So predictably there was a prominent pro-military display during the draft.  Early in the third round of the draft, there was a pause in the “auctioneering” of the athletes.  Nine troops walked out in dress uniform: three Marines, two soldiers, two sailors, and two airmen.  They stood at attention as the rally members chanted “USA! USA!” Then Lee Greenwood’s anthem came on: “God Bless the USA.”  And the assembled masses sang along.

It was an exercise in pure, unadulterated, propaganda.  “Proud to be an American,” indeed!

Last August, I wrote about sports and the military for TomDispatch.com, where I quoted this telling observation by Norman Mailer, which he made prior to the Iraq War in 2003:

“The dire prospect that opens, therefore, is that America is going to become a mega-banana republic where the army will have more and more importance in Americans’ lives… [D]emocracy is the special condition — a condition we will be called upon to defend in the coming years. That will be enormously difficult because the combination of the corporation, the military, and the complete investiture of the flag with mass spectator sports has set up a pre-fascistic atmosphere in America already.”

A pre-fascistic atmosphere: a mass rally of 200,000 fans (fanatics?), applauding troops in uniform and singing about how proud they are to be Americans, where at least they know they’re free, as college athletes get auctioned off to NFL mega-millionaire and billionaire owners, all captured on gigantic video boards on prime-time television.  Talk about making America great again!

Speaking of the Donald, Trump naturally had to get involved with the draft.  One pro-Trump player who was drafted (Nick Bosa) had criticized ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who had taken a knee at several games to raise consciousness of violence against blacks.  Bosa had tweeted various insults against Kaepernick, calling him “Crappernick” and “a clown.”  Trump, showing his usual leadership skills, urged Bosa in a tweet to “always stay true to yourself,” concluding “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

Ah, “greatness” has so many different meanings, does it not?  But something tells me America’s founders didn’t think “greatness” resided in the conjunction of sports, the military, corporations, and jingoistic shouts of “USA! USA!”

NFL: NFL Draft
American greatness on display

4 thoughts on “The NFL Draft and America First

  1. I’m just an ordinary Citizen who thinks that this Countries greatness does not lie in any “Conjunctions” or alignments of any sorts, but in my opinion back in 89 something I saw came pretty close to its greatness, and it was the Original Constitution on Display at the Smithsonian in D.C. protected — hermetically sealed to protect it for Generations to come…Even so the Museum Curator pointed out a recent then 89 (as I said visited )attempt at defacing, or destroying the Document. I saw Score marks on the outside metal case by a blunt object, or tool… Sad commentary, but we do have a so called Free Society.

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    1. It’s time to celebrate that Constitution again — by following it. We can start by ending all of our undeclared wars around the world.

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  2. true story, happened about a two weeks ago at a smart and final ( funny name for a smaller version of costco here on the left coast ).

    a gal was in front of me in the check out with three cans of some energy drink about 8:30 pm on a weekday evening. only one lane was open, there are always a number of people shopping there. the guy rings up the total and the gal rips into him about being overcharged 20 cents a can from the displayed price. she said the same thing happened 3 times before and kept on going about all kinds of vitriol, corporate this, rip off that.

    the guy behind the counter had the, “ i only work here lady” look and called up for a price check and said nothing else while she kept on ranting.

    i decided to run a little interference for the guy and asked her, “ hey lady, if this always happens why do you keep coming back ? “.

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  3. A week after the NFL draft for 2019, I caught a snippet on ESPN that was already handicapping players for the 2020 draft. The coverage starts a year before the draft. Imagine if we paid that much attention to wars — or health care — or climate change.

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