Only Garry Wills could find St. Augustine apropos in an article about football. The point Wills raises--about the violence of the game--is a disturbing one indeed. I loved playing high school football. While being tall and (then) somewhat lanky, basketball seemed a natural calling, but football really captured something primal. Perhaps so many guys on a field engaged in what was a form of a war game. I enjoyed it when I could hit and move somebody (overweight defensive linemen or over active linebackers), and as an offensive lineman I became pretty good at it. (I never found a consistent spot on defense. I never found the technique to make it work for me, or perhaps I didn't have enough of the animal spirit.) I enjoyed the contact, but I didn't want to hurt anyone. Rough-housing without hurting, I thought. But I must say, not having had a son, I was relieved of my growing concern that football involves too much violence and risk of injury to justify it. (Volleyball, I learned, has injuries enough of its own. Instrumental music--not so much, thankfully.)
I don't follow pro football, and for the umpteenth year in a row, I doubt I'll watch any of the Super Bowl (some snippets, maybe). I do love to watch the Hawks or high school ball if I know the players, but I do cringe at the injuries. Like Wills, who has written eloquently about Raymond Berry, the great Baltimore Colts receiver who played with Johnny Unitas, also appreciates the game. But perhaps we should start saying "no". Okay, this is probably the most heretical thing I've written on this blog, but I don't have a good answer. Too many fans seem to revel in the violence and not the beauty of athleticism.