Americas favorite pastime is sport. Millions and millions of dollars have been spent publicizing sport, and on the same token millions and millions of dollars have also been spent watching it. Children grow up idolizing sport. Parents have been obsessed with sport. In Texas football is valued very high- from high school football to the NFL there is an obsession with the sport.
The Dark side of the Game discusses a conflict theory perspective on the high stakes that surround the players in the NFL. Fame and fortune can be short lived for some players who are pursuing that American dream, and may be forced into retirement with their bodies left mangled and used up.
The NFL is seen as pristine with cutting edge competition. The fact beyond the fiction is that the common person in society looks at sport with rose- colored glasses. It is no lie that some athletes do live out the life that they have dreamed of, but many also suffer by compromising their beliefs and morals.
The Dark Side of the Game starts with the beginning aspects of playing in the NFL. The Combines,or the process by which the players are medically examined and given an intelligence test is the gateway to the NFL. Your health is a determining factor in whether your stock in the upcoming draft will drop. Next comes training camp. Most fans look forward to training camp; it is the time to get pumped up about the upcoming football season and watch your favorite teams get prepared.
To an NFL player training camp can be a month of hot torture. Days start at seven in the morning and can end at nine at night, leaving players weak and tired and with a loss of appetite. Training camp is especially hard on the rookies. They are not used to the difference between college football and the NFL because they are no longer in the spotlight.
Training camp also takes a physical and mental toll on the athletes mind and bodies. Repeating the schedule day after day physically breaks down the body. The injuries can start to build up and take a toll on the body. Being deprived from family and friends takes a mental toll on the body as well. Some players might even try to get out of training camp, but the two things that might get you out for a day or two would be- death or having a baby.
When the season begins playing with pain is usually a norm. Players always know the difference between pain and discomfort. Discomfort is seen as a constant state for a player, something like a bruised toe. Pain, on the other hand, is “the physical damage that is so extreme that the jolting messages sent from the injured area to the brain are just too much to be ignored, even during a game when your entire focus is on doing your job and winning.”(Green). While no one knows exactly how much pain tolerance one man has, it is still true that players have played with pain at some time or another.
When the end of their career finally rolls around most players don’t just retire, they are told they are a financial burden to justify anymore. It is hard for them to just walk away from the game they call their career. They are spoiled with special treatment, attention, fame and fortune. When the party is over know one wants to leave.
After reading Tim Greens book I thought he generally took a very negative approach to describing the NFL. Although I could never know what the NFL is like, it seems like it should be more affirmative than that. He started out describing training camp as a living hell, all the way to the two deaths that a football player dies with- the end of his career being the first.
In my opinion, I believe that there are probably several players who did not get such a negative outlook on it. I believe it is probably the expectations that you set for the game itself. Everyone expects a red carpet for a professional athlete because of the money and fame they receive for doing something they love.
Being a professional athlete is probably an emotional struggle for players between expectations and reality. The truth is that their choice is to play, and not one of them would have it any other way.
The book I read is a conflict theorist perspective. Green takes all of the negative aspects of life in the NFL and explains that the NFL does not serve as a function, but more or less a struggle. He does not believe that all functions in the NFL are good or productive, therefore he doesn’t believe that the NFL contributes to overall well being to the players. There are several examples of exploitation of players, such as the media and the broadcast booth. Green also goes on to say that the NFL meets the goals of the powerful by describing such things like the salary cap or the “uniform police”.
Overall this book covers several negative aspects of football that the average fan would not think twice about. Millions of little boys dream about being a professional athlete, and a small percentage will become one. Despite the conflicts represented in this book, I believe that for a majority of people, life in the NFL is dream that few will ever know.
Green, Tim. The Dark Side Of The Game.