is subject to the
Referencing Karl Marx, Ben Mathis-Lilley wrote that, “Karl Marx held that alienation is the condition people experience when they have no autonomy over something personally or socially meaningful to them because it is subject to the power and incentives of accumulated capital.”
Mr. Mathis-Lilley’s reference was, of course, referring to the world of college football on TV.
In the article, Does Watching College Football on TV Have to Be So Miserable?, Mr. Mathis-Lilley writes, “I believe I embody the concept, as so defined by Marx, when I am watching five to eight consecutive commercials 16 times during a college football broadcast so that Disney shareholders and Rupert Murdoch might benefit.”
Mr. Mathis-Lilley does ask that most important question, “Is this a silly thing to worry about?“
And he answers, “Yes and No.”
“On the one hand,” he writes, “college football is not as materially crucial of an issue as, to take two examples, climate change and cancer. On the other, like all cultural narratives, highbrow and low, it has an intangible but foundational importance to the lives of those who use it to define their social communities and to explain their personal origins and values — to understand how life works, basically.“
The CEO of the major communications company where I used to work once said 30% of Americans are rabid sports fans. 100% of rabid sports fans think all American’s are rabid sports fans.
My wife is one of those American’s who could care less about sports.
Somehow, after over 30 years of marriage, she cannot remember when the Michigan-Ohio State game is played every year.
Yet last night as we flipped around the channels on TV, when a promo for the Notre Dame – Ohio State game came on she looked at me and said, “The evil empire versus the bad guys … who do want to win?”
(For the record, while for most of my life I have wanted OSU to be undefeated when Michigan beats so it hurts more and for the most part, I am happy whenever ND loses at anything, I (maybe I am getting old or something) but I wouldn’t mind seeing this new coach at ND succeed and I have a growing concern over OSUs lifetime win total which thanks to Rich Rodriguez, the Morgantown Miracle Worker – no one in any sport ended one team list of accomplishments as fast as he did (consecutive bowl games, winning seasons, Top 25 Rankings etc) ((For crying out loud, at one point in Rich Rod’s career, Jim Tressel of that team down south had more BIG TEN wins in Michigan Stadium than Rich Rod did – But I digress)) and the one thing I want out of sports is that Michigan has wore total victories that that other team in my lifetime).
College football like all cultural narratives, highbrow and low, it has an intangible but foundational importance to the lives of those who use it to define their social communities and to explain their personal origins and values — to understand how life works, basically.
For me, when Michigan wins, the world just makes a little more sense.
And I have to say – watching some college football over the past couple of days … it just felt … normal.
It just felt fun and even good.
A step back or maybe beyond all the Covid/Political/News industrial complex that seems to have taken over.
I have to say I enjoyed it.
But why do I have to watch sooooooooooooooo many commercials!
BTW – For those who haven’t figured out that most public libraries offer access to New York Times, I have uploaded a PDF of this article that you can read here.