Sports act almost as a religion for many people. The level of devotion goes unparalleled in most other pursuits. People travel to distant cities to see teams play; show up hours early to tailgate in parking lots near the stadium(s); deck out themselves, families, and home in merchandise and apparel; and become embroiled in pointless feuds with fans of other teams.
When examined through a sociological lens, this behavior is very similar to the behavior of religious zealots.
Just like typical, traditional religion, a sense of organization is key. Therefore, a centralized, governing body needs to be established. This organization/institution mediates the transcendental state reached at a sporting event, between source and consumer. With this power, they are able to wield ungodly influence over the game, players, and the general athletic community. Although all large athletic bureaucracies are insidious, no other organization in athletics is as infamous and despicable as the NFL.
What separates the NFL from the NHL, NBA, MLB, and others, is that they are the sole major athletic bureaucracy to not pay taxes. That, coupled with the organization being exceptionally polarizing on Sundays, makes it seem like the Catholic Church. The reason for the NFL not paying taxes is that they are a charitable organization, the same tactic employed by major religious institutions, but the NFL’s charitable record is allegedly shoddy.
At the head of this ghastly organization is the Palpatine-esque Roger Goodell. He is the arbiter of all things football, deciding what kind of information is made public, deciding how to deal with players and their personal behavior, issuing fines, and being generally despised by all the people who depend on him.
The NFL is an exclusive club. And they expect everyone involved with them to comply to their crazy demands. Players have been fined and punished for wearing altered gear in support of cancer awareness and the like, for voicing opinions on social issues that dissent from ones the NFL voices, and for smoking marijuana, even for medicinal purposes. However, players found guilty of domestic violence seem to go unpunished for whatever reason. Although the NFL isn’t explicitly condoning domestic violence, by being neutral on the issue and by not punishing horrible people, they pick the side of domestic violence.
But perhaps the worst thing the NFL is guilty of, is their suppression of information from the public. Case-in-point, the organization covering up research done regarding brain injuries. Since the information could potentially change the game, and public interest, the NFL decided it was best to keep the information from players and fans, favoring ignorance over the safety of players. And then they waged a tumultuous legal battle with Dr. Bennet Omalu once he reported his findings.
It’s disgusting behavior like this, duplicitous behavior that favors personal interest to keep their hustle relevant and under their control. Hopefully it’s still a while before Goodell demands virgin sacrifices during halftime.