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Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Walt Whitman

The theme for this week could be a continuation of the grind mentioned last week alongside the inability for us bloggers to build our lives around writing, or at least for me at any rate.

This can be frustrating as there is a long piece to be written on the awkwardness I, and I know others feel, when talking about the performance of the Kansas City Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill. Although there is an excellent piece here from Vahe Gregorian on that matter.

This seems to be an example of someone’s ability determining their opportunity, as if Hill did not have such blazing speed, then it is hard to see a team selecting him with even a lowly draft pick after his pleading guilty to domestic abuse by strangulation.

This kind of contradiction rears its head again when the Patriots were the only team to put in a waiver claim and so picked up Michael Floyd after he was cut by the Arizona Cardinals after his DUI arrest. He was found passed out behind the wheel of a car and it is lucky that there were not worse consequences, but the Patriots felt his talent was worth the risk and bad press.

The importance of second chances and giving people the opportunity to develop and learn from their mistakes is often something that gets brought up in cases such as these. However, it is often hard to be sure where a team’s commitment to these ideals lies in relation to self-interest if the player can help the team’s performance. The NFL in particular has been very erratic in the way it has enforced discipline in these cases, which surely does not help.

Matters like driving under the influence or domestic abuse are reflections of wider society rather than a sports problem, and much like we too often create heroes out of ordinary men with skills out of sports, we too often turn people who are found guilty of these crimes into someone or something other. But these are people, doing horrible things, they are our neighbours and people we know. Because of the way sport is followed, there is an opportunity to engage with the public about these problems, there is education to be done. To help create an environment where victims can come forward and to educate us about how to help. Something we all could use.

There are those that get upset when you start exploring these issues as they come to sport to get away from the world. This is their escape, and to an extent I can understand why you might feel that way, but I can’t bring myself to agree. The very act of watching football is of itself conflicting. There are very real safety concerns that surround the game, and when you see a player like Richard Sherman frequently comment negatively on the league’s commitment to player safety and then deliver the kind of hit he did to Jared Goff on Thursday, or perhaps more troubling, the blow to the back of Davante Adam’s head the week before, it highlights the violence inherent in the sport. They may not sell football with hit compilations like they used to, and many people now watch the game in a different way when those hits occur, but football is still a brutal game.

I don’t watch football to see people get hurt, but I do like defence. I like the tactics of offence versus defence, and pass rushing is something I have always enjoyed, but we are now aware of the cumulative effect of giving and receiving hits on a football player. We don’t know how football is going to change and be in twenty or thirty years. We don’t know how the league will continue to influence and reflect society.

It is not so unusual for there to be conflicting facts in our lives, and so even in a supposed meritocracy like sport, you can’t escape them because in truth, sport is a just another part of a confusing and complex world. The closer you look, for more dissonance you can find. I would love to have a neat summary right now, but I don’t think there is one, which again is not so unusual, winners and losers, final scores, they belong on the pitch but even they aren’t the whole story. Sorry about that.

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