A funny thing happened on the way to the Seattle Seahawks’ victory over the Green Bay Packers on January 18.
My mother was the only person in the house watching the game.
My dad, an avid runner and cyclist, found the local trails more alluring than the hype surrounding the NFC championship. My older brother had initially come to make dinner for them later that night, but in the meantime had gone to work out, uninterested in the outcome of the game (my younger brother is an avid football fan and most certainly was watching it in his home).
Meanwhile, I’m the only man left in the house, albeit I’m pecking away at my laptop trying to get some work done.
At one point I got yet another call from my lonely mother asking if I’ll watch the game with her. I stopped and asked myself, What is going on here? Why am I, a man, not watching the game while my mother, who normally watches the Hallmark Channel, can’t take her eyes off of it?
To watch or not to watch
The answer wasn’t immediately obvious. While I enjoy a good football game as much as the next man and actually ended up watching the fourth quarter, I had a higher level of emotional investment in my work, something I was directly involved in and had control over.
It’s not that I don’t like the Seahawks. If I met Russell Wilson, I’d be searching for a football for him to sign. It just that I’m not obsessed.
But that wasn’t it.
I’ve also grown tired of the Seahawks worship. For those of you who aren’t from the area, it’s become the dominant religion. It’s hard to claim I’m exaggerating when the churches cancel or change their services times to accommodate game schedules, while they openly encourage the “faithful” to wear a Richard Sherman jersey as they worship Jesus. For a Christian like myself, wanting to go worship God without hearing any mention of the Seahawks during the sermon means staying home and listening to sermons online.
Still, that wasn’t it. It wasn’t until my brother came back from working out that I realized why.
Watching Sunday football just isn’t a masculine thing to do anymore.
Maybe I am alone in this sentiment. I have a strange feeling, however, I’m not.
How Sunday football spectating has been feminized
That a man might even contemplate this possibility demonstrates the effort to feminize American football has been a total success. Although the game itself is as violent and alpha-male dominated as ever, the marketing panders to and placates women.
Six years ago, a story like the one I described above would have never happened. Even in the 1990s, the height of feminism, Sunday football was one of the few remaining vestiges of masculinity.
Yes, there were women who enjoyed high school or even college football, but they were the token gal among the boys. And there was something different about Sunday football. It was when average men gathered together to drink beer and eat junk food while their wives or girlfriends made some offhand remark about them all being Neanderthals. It was Home Improvement’s Tim Taylor’s time to bond with his sons while his wife Jill is busy telling them not to get “too involved in that.”
Now, these women are huddled up next to their hubbies on the couch, adorned from head to toe in their respective football team’s apparel they bought en masse at a sporting goods store in an attempt to conform to latest social trend. Older woman who in a previous generation would have rolled their eyes amusingly at men cheering a QB sack now screech and scream like they’re back in high school cheer squad and talk about how cute they think their favorite player’s hair is or how they enjoy watching them during their cuddle — I mean huddle.
For a lot of men, the change in atmosphere and environment is unbearable.
To be fair, much of this phenomenon in the Seattle area can be attributed to the recent success of the Seahawks. My mother, like 90 percent of the women here, had absolutely zero interest in football until their 2005 appearance at the Super Bowl, the first in their history. The excitement then disappeared for another seven years until the “Russell Wilson” effect had women swooning as they flocked to the living room to join their husbands in what once was a masculine refuge of solitude.
But it’s not just the Seahawks’ success. You can see it in the way in which domestic violence, against women, of course, dominates the discussion during football games, the effeminate pink sweatbands players wear for breast cancer awareness.
Bob Costa’s anti-gun rant in 2012 during a live football game showed women have finally taken over. Had he said something that dumb when the primary audience was men who still wore the pants in the family….well, never mind, he wouldn’t have been that dumb.
Women in the world of men
What’s happened is the women have finally penetrated—trigger warning—one of the final bastions of male-dominated rituals, the spectating of the Sunday football game. Like everything else that once gave men a sense of community or bonding, women have barged their way in, and like all others they now control the conversation.
It’s why you have football players featured in commercials condemning domestic violence committed against women by men but none on how men make up 40 percent of domestic violence victims. It’s why you don’t hear about how 85 percent of the time women are awarded child custody during a divorce, nor the suicide rate disparity between men and women following divorce. It’s why you don’t hear about paternity fraud or a see segment on how “deadbeat dads” might actually be real human beings who love their children but can’t see them ever because they work two full-time jobs to pay for alimony and/or child support.
These are relevant men’s issues. Back when football was a masculine man’s world and women were merely guests in it at best, these topics might have gotten a fair hearing.
Comedian Bill Burr nailed it when he told Conan O’Brien why women took over football. Because it was started by men for men. And they can’t have that, especially in a country that has its balls in the feminists’ purse.
Notice that men don’t seek out female-dominated pastimes and attempt to intrude. Men are content with women doing their own thing among themselves and have no interest changing the arrangement. For feminists, however, there is an instinctive resentment of anything male-oriented or exclusively male. Honestly, how many women actually watch football because they personally enjoy it? How many would watch it if all of their girlfriends thought it was “weird”?
There is also a subversive side to the whole thing. As Fred Reed observed, it is difficult for men to have certain conversations while a woman is present. When women become a significant portion of the group, these conversations become impossible. Much of what men enjoy about male-exclusive activities is the ability to segregate themselves from women, to be alone with men so they can speak plainly and openly about things.
Feminists know this. To them, it is critical these conversations don’t happen on a large scale in order to maintain control.
That’s why men like myself find ourselves doing other things on Sunday. It’s no longer a time for men to chat with other men about things men care about without censoring ourselves for the sake of the women in the room. Watching football is slowly becoming an experience akin to watching a soap opera with a bunch of stay-at-home moms.
Yes, the players are men, the coaches are men, the commentators are men, and the team owners are men, but like the modern Christian church in America, the NFL is now an institution run by men for women.
Again, I might be alone on this, but the comment below made by a rueful husband in a recent Seattle Times story in regard to his wife’s newly-found obsession with the sport says I’m not:
“I’ve created a monster.”
Read more: How American Football Became A Racket