In college we used to joke, “If I were smart, I’d get good grades.” And if I could write as well as Robert Lipsyte — author, commentator, former New York Times sports columnist — I’d be Robert Lipsyte. Since I can’t, I’m not, but I’m a Lipsyte reader and admirer, which is good enough today.
Writing for TomDispatch.com in a piece headlined “Four Reasons to Watch the Super Bowl,” Lipsyte neatly straddles disgust and sympathy. The essay isn’t perfect (the take on class warfare seems to me more jello-like than lucid, and Tim Tebow was not a rookie in 2011), but the takeaway is a gem. It comes right after Lipsyte gently tap-dances on the Joe Paterno legacy and breaks down how football’s “little insults to the brain” begin early and “add up to catastrophe in middle age”:
“So if you believe in taking responsibility for ‘every other kid,’ go organize in your community against helmet-wearing tackle football — at the very least until high-school age. (If you let your own kid play peewee football, you should be charged with child abuse.) Its hard to go up against Jock Culture, which youll be watching in its full power and glory on Sunday. Then again, its hard to go up against the banks and the war machine, too. Its time, in other words, to occupy football.”