Richard Day's picture


    George Will kills me sometimes. Which is why I refuse to allow guns at my residence.

    Sometimes he shows his fascistic nuts.

    Sometimes he sounds reasonable enough.

    And sometimes he is just plain nuts.

    Now ole George is a sports nut and he, at one time, loved to write about baseball and appears in the Ken Burns documentary about baseball.

    Well, today he comes up with a blog about some relationship between 'progressives' and football.

    I have always enjoyed linking two unconnected subjects and I would never wish to interfere with someone else doing the same.

    But this one post of his at the Washington Post has me scratching my head.

    Harvard philosopher William James then spoke of society finding new sources of discipline and inspiration in “the moral equivalent of war.” Society found football, which like war required the subordination of the individual, and which would relieve the supposed monotony of workers enmeshed in mass production.

    College football became a national phenomenon because it supposedly served the values of progressivism, in two ways. It exemplified specialization, expertise and scientific management. And it would reconcile the public to the transformation of universities, especially public universities, into something progressivism desired but the public found alien. Replicating industrialism’s division of labor, universities introduced the fragmentation of the old curriculum of moral instruction into increasingly specialized and arcane disciplines. These included the recently founded social sciences — economics, sociology, political science — that were supposed to supply progressive governments with the expertise to manage the complexities of the modern economy and the simplicities of the uninstructed masses.

    Now I know George wrote this because of his references to the uninstructed masses.

    Go ahead and read the entire blog, but somehow I am supposed to conclude (?) that economics and sociology and political science are bad? For society?

    Now I know he is also attempting to link the phrase 'uninstructed masses' with progressives; thereby intimating that it is the progressive who has disdain for the peasants.

    However, after reading this disciple of Buckley for decades, I really do not believe that Will has nothing but disdain for the masses; for the peasantry and for anyone who is short in the area of vocabulary.

    I just am having a real hard time figuring out whether or not his disdain is pointed at the racist progressive Wilson or Notre Dame?

    I guess his essay got to me because I just read about a stadium being built for high school football that is costing the taxpayers of Texas some 60-million dollars.

    And we have all been inundated throughout the year with blogs and articles highlighting the fun times at Penn State over the last three decades.

    It’s kind of hard,” said Alabama’s Bear Bryant, “to rally ’round a math class.” And today college football is said to give vast, fragmented universities a sense of community through shared ritual. In this year’s first “game of the century,” Alabama’s student-athletes played those from Michigan in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Tex., which is 605 miles and 1,191 miles from Tuscaloosa and Ann Arbor,


    I have no idea what George Will is talking about or what point he is attempting to make or why he wrote this in the first place.

    I mean what is he driving at?

    Of course, here is an old aristocrat who hates Obama, endorses Romney and slams Romney whenever he gets the chance.

    It appears that over the years it has become harder and harder for ole George to find his car let alone his car keys.

    Not being a current fan of high school or college or professional football I even wonder why I give damn?

    Do you realize that I awoke sometime last week (I think) and by accident hit channel 57 which has always projected static and discovered that I now have BTN on basic cable? That is the Big Ten Network. You realize of course that the Big Ten now is composed of 12 or more teams but sports programs oftimes have problems with arithmetic!

    College football programs and even High School football programs (at least in Texas, evidently) are frauds.

    In my opinion these team sports represent a fraud perpetrated upon the masses.

    Forget sex scandals for the moment; universities and cities and states fund the sport with multi million dollar stadiums and equipment and scholarships while pretending we are dealing with amateur sports.

    We send these teen-age gladiators into the arena training them to bash each others brains out and the winners go onto make multimillions with the pros after three or four years. At least in basketball, the high schooler can feel free to skip the scam and sign on for millions with the pro teams.

    Meanwhile, we pretend that our gladiators are amateurs attempting to work hard for their education while millions of dollars are used as bribes to parents and other sponsors; grades are faked and colleges end up making billions.

    There is far too much moolah being made from 'sports' for sports to be pure in any sense of the word.

    Vendors make hundreds of millions of dollars selling totems and beer and flags and such related to college sports.

    And little girls are taught how to wiggle their fannies by the 7th grade on the sidelines so that they might not only get a date with the QB but have a future chance of disgracing themselves as Dallas Cheerleaders.

    College football is inane and fraudulent and hypocritical; but so is Rush Limbaugh.

    When the masses support inanity and fraud and hypocrisy, people make money and there is really nothing you can do about it.

    I just have no idea what this all has to do with progressives.

    Anyway, I decided that I am not a progressive.

    I am just a confounded liberal.

    Grandpa died last week

    And now he is buried in the rocks

    And everybody still talks about how badly they were shocked

    But me, I expected it to happen

    I knew he lost control

    When he built a fire on main street

    And shot it full of holes






    I think I kin help a little bit.

    George Will adores baseball and hates football. He adores baseball so much that he has waxed about it with a gazillion words, the writing of which included researching a lot of sources that call baseball America's pasttime and how it is more American than apple pie, how it is a metaphor for America, etc. etc. This has all sunk into his head for decades

    He is bitter and angry that long ago  baseball lost the popularity contest in the US for favorite spectator sport, he feels that this is like throwing our beautiful culture in the garbage can. He thinks football is violent and mean and stupid, and like the gladiator battles in ancient Rome, is meant to distract the people. He thinks baseball is democratic and beautiful, the peoples' sport.

    So he goes back and researches the arch-enemy, football, and finds the origins of how its popularity came about, and sees that it has to do with "capital P" Progressive Teddy Roosevelt and others like him. And that it was a blatant unashamed scheme of educated elite to boot! An elite plot to compete with and kill good old working class American baseball.

    And if you are George Will and fancy yourself an older, more experienced and more strongly politically opinonated Ken Burns, you want to suggest to the populace that this history of baseball vs. football has something to do with our country today and the progressive elite, always bashing the American working class taste. And you just make that part up! Cause it's a work in progress, and also because baseball needs to be promoted until the day he dies. smiley

    I have no idea why but you really really have me laughing. hahahahahahahahha

    You know, I guess I was surprized that ole George never even mentioned the Federalist Papers in this piece. hahahahahahha

    Art, I was actually dreaming about some editor at Washpo calling him up:

    Hi George

    Well hi Fred.

    Ahhhhhhhhhh exactly what were you getting at in this recent piece about football?

    Well as you know Fred my contract says I answer to no one as far as my writing.

    Okay then....take care George.

    Have a nice day!


    You are more than right about all this.

    I was also thinking that of these gladiators who make it, the rest (99%) go on to do great things as long as the concussions do not cause them to drool a lot in their thirties.


    I don't know, but you got me laughing more than when I wrote this. hahahahaha



    I think what this whole thing means is that George Will has either been a secret Progressive all these years, or he has been fighting his heart's true intentions since he first decided to become a Conservative.  Either stupidly or cravenly, he's obviously been fighting for the wrong political team.  

    He claims to be a Baseball lover. Baseball is the sport of Progressives. It is intellectual and poetic.  Football is a sport of the elites, the aggressive, every-man-for-themselves types that enjoy a good territorial game of War and Conquest.

    George Will needs to come out of the closet and admit he is a Progressive. Perhaps another George can convince him:



    I forgot all about Carlin's take.

    Will might have gone a little farther with a reference to Carlin but he really does not like anarchists! Even dead anarchists.

    IMO, both George Will and Peggy Noonan have stayed around long past their expiration date.  Once in a great while, George will surprise me and actually say something on point. 

    (note to artsy:  Excellent analysis, appreciate.)

    Good point to think of Peggy; George and Peggy seem to share the same brain, just have different hormones, only a couple of minor DNA switches difference between the two. She tends perky and optimistic, he is always melancholic and grave.

    After writing my own comment, I was thinking of the cartoon character Sad Sack for some reason. cheeky

    1. Not to dress it up too much, but football is for assholes.

    2. Equally, baseball is the sport of the Gods. 

    3. To not understand this is to be a buffoon.

    4. George Will went to a fine (fine) British educational institution, and I shall not hear a word against him. Also, Floreat Magdalena. 

    5. The "uninstructed masses," indeed. George knows full well that you could instruct our leaden-headed masses for a lifetime, and get no benefit. About all today's lot are good for is service as a pissboy.


    And also on point:


    Je reste mon valise.



    Ahhhhhhhhhh the old bucket brigade!

    Well I had twenty years of schooling and actually served on the day shift in the olden days but those twenty years went for naught!

    After all, I am still leaden headed and a confounded liberal.

    (But I still love baseball)

    The first time I watched this movie and heard him ask "And where is the garcon du piss?" I almost laughed out a lung. 

    Mel Brooks. A God amongst men.

    A man amongst toads.

    A toad amongst snakes.

    A snake amongst.... grasses, I guess.

    A grass amongst.... oh who gives a f*ck.

    I was actually kinda intrigued by the book, especially as I've been studying the Progressives these days, so I went over to Amazon where a fair bit of it is available to preview.

    Sure enough, the NCAA owes its existence to a White House initiative during Teddy Roosevelt's administration. Like many of the early Progressives, Roosevelt hoped to reform corrupt and anarchic institutions. He called a White House conference to address college football because the sport was out of control. Sports gamblers were making fortunes, and players in inadequate leather helmets were getting killed--right there on the field, not just thirty years later as they are today.

    George Will doesn't tell his readers about that of course. He wouldn't want to show them how "collectivity" can be a good thing. But the worst of it is that he actually blames these reforms for causing the very phenomena that they were developed to protect the sport against. As conservatives like Will are so fond of doing, he observes a correlation between progressive reform and social ills and concludes that the reform caused the ills.

    But the reality is that college football had already become a big business by the turn of the century, and it was growing every year. That was why the NCAA was created in the first place. Roosevelt sought to regulate and standardize the game in order to curb the worst of the abuses--as he did with other industries. Had he and other Progressives not done so, college football would be as big as it is today if not bigger. The only difference would be that the players would still be wearing leather helmets, and the casino industry would be paying them to smash each other's heads in.

    Now this is more than just an interesting take.

    I really did not know that TR had a hand in regulating the sport; no idea at all.

    Now as Will points out, some coaches make more money than the governor of the particular state where the U is located!

    And the Penn State scandals demonstrate that coaches might even become tsars with absolute power!

    As another aside, Minnesota college basketball has not gone anywhere since the late fifties and sixties until we hired this incredible coach who took us to the TOP EIGHT? and then we discovered that the players were not even taking their own finals.

    Anyway, I will continue to read George Will because he is fine writer (until he writes himself off of a cliff) and he wakes me up!

    College sports (especially football) is big business!

    So we must continue to 'watch' this big business.

    Thank you, I learned something.

    I didn't know it either until I read your post and clicked through to the book, so thank you.

    So what's the story on Army vs. Navy? Wasn't that a big college game? Does that operate the way the other big football programs operate?

    Dunno. The book doesn't talk much about it.

    Not that I am pleased about agreeing with Will but given that colleges were beginning to ban football, the reforms, including the establishment of the NCAA, did preserve, protect and enhance a violent sport that could have become as rare as the era's slugfest boxing matches have.

    Prohibition might have been an alternative to regulation, but I don't think Will is criticizing the Progressives for not banning football.

    And the assumption that college football would have withered away without federally-inspired regulation is unfounded. It was rapidly gaining popularity without any help from the NCAA.

    PS Slugfest boxing went away the same way no-padding football went away--because of regulation. The sport of boxing obviously did not go away.

    When I read this column I thought Will had finally gone around the bend, blending his love of baseball and hatred of football with his love of conservatism and hatred of progressivism.

    What more self-serving trick can there be than to tie together two hatreds with one neat bow whilst gilding one's two greatest loves at the same time?

    But still, I thought it was an intriguing thesis and seemed to be based on this book of some merit. (Genghis offers an important corrective to Will's predictably one-sided view of the thesis.)

    He draws a fun parallel between the soul-deadening "specialization" required by the old industrial machine in which "the individual" was reduced to a cog in the factory  installing cogs, over and over and over again, on a car...and the specialization on a football team.

    Tackles, guards, kickers, QB...offensive and defensive players... all have their own special roles and can kinda sorta be thought of as cogs in the machine called a football machine that's run by the coach and ultimately the owner. Being a "team player" is an important value in a sport where it hurts one's team to be TOO much of an individual and step outside the lines of one's job.

    (Of course, once the play starts, the best laid plans can quickly go awry and you need guys who can react to what's happening and do what needs to be done in the moment regardless of what they were "supposed" to do in the play. A kicker isn't really supposed to block and tackle, but the best ones do when it's called for, and they are rewarded for it.)

    But the fact is, there's specialization on a baseball team, too, George. The pitcher, catcher, first base, designated hitter. They have special, non-transferrable skills. They aren't yeoman farmers. Maybe outfielders are fungible; don't know. And what is a triple play other than finely tuned teamwork? Or a catcher throwing a guy out at second? Or the outfield coming in to back up the infielders?

    Will's thesis falls apart pretty quickly when you think about it. But then again, it's pretty hard to come up with a column several times a weak for 30 or 40 years, no?



    Yeah I was thinking that too! Forty years is a long time to pretend you actually know something.


    I thought he'd run out of things to blame on liberals when, as luck would have it, he could blame college football on them, too.

    Although I was entertained, I'm sure he's serious, which shows how hard up he really is.

    As you said, he gets away with complex sentence structures and erudite references--erudite, but not necessarily correct.

    Time for the glue farm for him!


    Ahhhhhhhhhh another day and I hereby render unto Anonymous PS the Dayly Line of the Day Award for this here Dagblog Site, given to all of him from all of me.



    Good teaser title, Dick. I read this cause I like the TV show, but I don't even try to understand you or George Will. He's gotta be coloring that hair.

    Yup... I have thought that several times about his hair on Sunday morning talk shows.  My ears turn off when he starts to talk but the color of his hair at his age gets me thinking "Is that Clairol or Just For Men."

    Only his hairdresser knows for sure.

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