Super-Bull: Corporate Sports and Fascism

February 2, 2014

NFL

Being as though today is some kind of quasi-national holiday called Super Bowl Sunday, we should look at the relationship between sports and Fascism. I was going to single out American football in particular, but while thinking about it I realize it goes down to the big money in college games as well. Think about how the Jerry Sandusky boy-rape cases at Penn State were covered up, and the riots that occurred when Joe Paterno stepped down. Hell, even on the high school football team I played on, the coach tried to bribe a star player with a car and a girlfriend. We were blown away by that even as sixteen year-olds.

Football, due to it’s raw mimicry of nation-state combat, is the most overt offender. There is a mass-psychosis among fans that is the culmination of vivid imagery and commercial programming. People dress in war paint and scream combat screams. The military flies over with powerful jet aircraft and worship of actual soldier-warriors – alive and fallen, is transferred into the minds of fans and players and represented by opposing teams. Let’s take a look at what America’s premier dissident scholar, Noam Chomsky says:

“The purpose of the Super Bowl — and sports in general — is “pure diversion. There’s the real mass media-the kinds that are aimed at, you know, Joe Six Pack — that kind. The purpose of those media is just to dull people’s brains.”

“This is an oversimplification,” Chomsky argues, “but for the eighty percent or whatever they are, the main thing is to divert them. To get them to watch National Football League. And to worry about ‘Mother With Child With Six Heads,’ or whatever you pick up on the supermarket stands and so on. Or look at astrology. Or get involved in fundamentalist stuff or something or other.”

The point is to “get them away from things that matter. And for that it’s important to reduce their capacity to think.”

“Take, say, sports — that’s another crucial example of the indoctrination system, in my view. For one thing because it — you know, it offers people something to pay attention to that’s of no importance. That keeps them from worrying about — keeps them from worrying about things that matter to their lives that they might have some idea of doing something about.”
***
“It doesn’t make sense. But the point is, it does make sense: it’s a way of building up irrational attitudes of submission to authority, and group cohesion behind leadership elements — in fact, it’s training in irrational jingoism. That’s also a feature of competitive sports. I think if you look closely at these things, I think, typically, they do have functions, and that’s why energy is devoted to supporting them and creating a basis for them and advertisers are willing to pay for them and so on.”

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NFL 2

Futurist author of “1984” George Orwell had another take on football, meaning European soccer:

(excerpt)
“I am always amazed when I hear people saying that sport creates goodwill between the nations, and that if only the common peoples of the world could meet one another at football or cricket, they would have no inclination to meet on the battlefield. Even if one didn’t know from concrete examples (the 1936 Olympic Games, for instance) that international sporting contests lead to orgies of hatred, one could deduce it from general principles.

Nearly all the sports practised nowadays are competitive. You play to win, and the game has little meaning unless you do your utmost to win. On the village green, where you pick up sides and no feeling of local patriotism is involved. it is possible to play simply for the fun and exercise: but as soon as the question of prestige arises, as soon as you feel that you and some larger unit will be disgraced if you lose, the most savage combative instincts are aroused. Anyone who has played even in a school football match knows this. At the international level sport is frankly mimic warfare. But the significant thing is not the behaviour of the players but the attitude of the spectators: and, behind the spectators, of the nations who work themselves into furies over these absurd contests, and seriously believe — at any rate for short periods — that running, jumping and kicking a ball are tests of national virtue.”
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“As soon as strong feelings of rivalry are aroused, the notion of playing the game according to the rules always vanishes. People want to see one side on top and the other side humiliated, and they forget that victory gained through cheating or through the intervention of the crowd is meaningless. Even when the spectators don’t intervene physically they try to influence the game by cheering their own side and “rattling” opposing players with boos and insults. Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting.”

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Now if you insist on those descriptions as being from egg-head intellectuals who never intended on caring about sports, so be it. But if you watch this excellent documentary from the BBC you will see how Moussolini, Hitler and Franco all manipulated sports to rally the masses – for Fascism.

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One Response to Super-Bull: Corporate Sports and Fascism

  1. Cosmo on March 5, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    The 1st Century Roman poet and activist Juvenal is attributed with the quote “Give them bread and circuses” by way explaining the strategy of the Roman government to preoccupy the masses while the Empire was crumbling at their feet.

    Christopher Hedges refers to it as the “age of spectacle” in his book Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle…The end of literacy is clearly drawing near and the Triumph of Spectacle is clearly upon us. And the response of the U.S. nation-state is to pay our college football coaches more money than we pay the President of the United States!

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