It's unbelievable to me that everyone continues to watch football when we know that men are getting genuinely, permanently, brain damaged. The game is tantamount to cockfighting, only with people instead of animals.

The NFL has finally admitted the problem, to the extent it is poised to be the largest funding source for research about trauma to the brain. But still, the game encourages brain trauma. And people cheer.

I can understand if it's like smoking. You're addicted, you can't stop. But what about bringing your kids to the game? What about all the people who make the Superbowl a family TV event? Kids who play football in high school are more likely to die from that than drunk driving or guns. And parents encourage their kids to play this sport?

The culture of football amazes to me — the incredible level of denial. So what I’m thinking is that people are delusional. And they know it, but they keep going. They cultivate delusion.

That’s what I think of when I hear about the HBO documentary about Temple Grandin. She’s a total freak. This is why she's interesting. Because people love an underdog—people love seeing weirdness succeed because most people feel weird and they worry it's going to hold them back.

The problem is that a little weird is normal, but Temple is weird in a way that makes her a statistical improbability. Unlike Temple, most people with Asperger Syndrome are very smart but cannot hold down a job. Most Asperger people are living at the edge of poverty. They divorce at very high rates, and they are at high risk for depression and suicide.

Journalists who interact with Temple say that, on a personal level, she is absolutely impossible to deal with on a regular basis. This is not surprising. (Being difficult is what Asperger's is about, in a large way. Everyone tries to isolate themselves from things that drive them crazy. Someone with Asperger Syndrome just has a much longer list with a much lower threshold in the you-are-driving-me-crazy department.) So it’s lucky that she is an absolute genius in a field that has very little competition from people with good social skills. Most people with Asperger's, even if they are geniuses at, say, engineering (which is very common) get in trouble mid-career for lack of social skills.

I hate the glorification of abnormal. People who are abnormal have an enormous struggle to find a place in the world. It's not fun or glamorous. The celebration of abnormal is a delusional luxury of the relatively normal population.

More about the world of delusion: Time magazine reports that 78% women feel that media does not accurately represent women with kids.

Probably the most accurate representation of women is in the blogosphere. There is no filter here, no need to appeal to both Peoria and Pasadena all at once. But even the whole of the blogosphere does not represent the female experience particularly accurately.

Here's how I know: I compare the traffic for dooce.com and thepioneerwoman.com.

The Pioneer Woman is largely housewife porn. The men are hot and rugged, just like in a romance novel. The author, Ree Drummond, is running an operation similar to Rachel Ray or Martha Stewart, but she markets herself as a stay-at-home mom, and a homeschooler at that. The whole thing strikes me as totally preposterous. It's as impossible as Friends, where everyone had a pricey NYC apartment, and not-high-paying job. But regardless, The Pioneer Woman's traffic is absolutely through the roof, proving the appeal of preposterous escapism.

Dooce, on the other hand, is more gritty, and has about half the traffic of Pioneer Woman. On Dooce, Heather Armstrong blogs about depression, her kids being difficult, and her parents being Mormon. I love Heather Armstrong. But she's the gold standard for writing a blog about your life and keeping a marriage together, and she is not, actually, writing about the female experience for married women.

Here is the female experience for married women (from a survey from PayPal):

37% of arguments are about money

24% are about household chores

15% are about in-laws

13% are about sex

Heather does not write about any of these arguments, except, maybe, chores. So who is writing about these fights? Where is the blogger explaining how she got through these fights?

I think the truth is that women don't want to see themselves reflected back to them. Family life is messy right now. No one would aspire to have the life the baby boomer women had; people won't even use the word feminist any more. And Generation X women, after creating the first fertility crisis in history by putting off kids for work, realized that they'd rather be home with kids than work full-time. So Gen X doesn't want to look in the mirror. It's too painful. Gen Y looks ahead and has no role model that looks appealing.

At first I was going to tell you how everyone who watches football and Temple Grandin are delusional. But I guess I am, too, because I read Pioneer Woman and Dooce all the time. And I like it.

But mindfulness goes a long way. For example, if you carry a book on your head every day for ten minutes, you will actually have more self-discipline to do the stuff in your life that matters more than a book on your head. It might seem like just a funny example, but don't underestimate how hard it is to get yourself to keep a book on your head for ten minutes each day.

I think this works with facing reality, too. Maybe if we do it daily, in some aspect of our life, we get the temerity to implement that discipline in other parts of life as well. But we have to start somewhere in order to battle the magnetism of delusion.

It’s easy to call out other peoples’ delusions. It matters much more to call out our own.

147 replies
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  1. Marie McHale Drake
    Marie McHale Drake says:

    I like the post Penelope. And I have long called myself a feminist. Like “liberal”, it became a dirty word to some, but I have no problem continuing to identify myself as both. I agree about Pioneer Woman and posted on my blog 2 days ago how she is ruining my life!

    But after a few days of not going to her website I feel remarkably better about myself.

    Cheers,
    Marie
    http://memoirsandhalftruths.wordpress.com/

  2. Sam
    Sam says:

    The football part is just way off, statistically. I did a report for school once on how my sport (wrestling) is safer than football. Which it is; football is a collision sport so it has the highest injury rate for just about everything, from broken bones to concussions and paralyzation. But it does not result in more injuries per capita than car crashes. Spend five minutes looking it up.

    My main point is that football is a great sport (though definitely not for me) and many young men get a lot out of it. Much more than than they lose to injuries. Ask any high school kid sidelined for a broken fill-in-the-blank. Because some things matter more than your body, and it becomes pretty obvious when boys learning how to become men have the time of their life blasting each other on a field. Again, not my sport. I prefer wrestling. But I have a lot of close friends who can testify to the same in football, track, and swimming. Different strokes for different folks. For men who enjoy collisions with other men…

    Football.

  3. Mary E.
    Mary E. says:

    You excluded women form the largest U.S. generation: Generation Jones (born 1954-1965, between the Boomers and Xers). As many prominent writers have pointed out, GenJones women are crucial to discussions of feminism/work-family balance, because of this generation’s huge size and pivotal place in that history.

  4. Christine
    Christine says:

    I completely disagree with your comments on The Pioneer Woman. It sounds like everyone here is unhappy with their own lives so they have to bash Pioneer Woman for being happy with hers. I’m sure she has bad days too but she chooses to blog about the good things, the whimsical things, the fun in life. True, she probably has money to live the way she does but I’d guess that money came via hard work. And even if it didn’t, why should she be punished? I could blog about my confusion on children, my job, how hard marriage can be, etc etc etc or I could tell you how much I appreciate my life, my husband, my animals, the food I made over the snowy weekend, etc. Some of us want to dwell on the positive and we shouldn’t be bashed for it.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Hold it. I never said I don’t like her blog. I read it all the time. I mean, I criticized Seinfeld, too. And of course I saw a ton of those episodes. I think we can be critical of stuff we like. Probably that’s the most interesting stuff to be critical of. Because if you don’t like it, don’t care that much about it.

      Penelope

  5. Natalie
    Natalie says:

    Here is the female experience for married women (from a survey from PayPal):

    37% of arguments are about money

    24% are about household chores

    15% are about in-laws

    13% are about sex

    Perhaps blogging is a better reflection of the perceptions women have about themselves and the conversations they have with other women. Because in my day-to-day, I complain a lot more about my inlaws verbally than I talk about the arguments I have with my husband.

  6. Martin
    Martin says:

    I don’t even like football and your first paragraph irritates me. Even if your numbers were correct, it wouldn’t be a reason not to play football. We engage in risky behavior for all sorts of reasons, usually to be part of something bigger than ourselves. It’s the same reason people play contact sports, climb mountains, fly to the moon, go deep-sea fishing, and a million other activities that have some degree of risk. I suppose that we should all sit at home on the couch where it’s safe.

  7. LPC
    LPC says:

    Dshan says,

    My personal belief is that the next explosion will be reflective of a much younger demographic writing the most compelling content; young decision makers living a far different life than their parents.

    I say, huh? How is that the most compelling content? Young people living a far different life? Now THAT’S a delusion. The changes from generation to generation ain’t as big as they look from below. The young are deluded about more things, the old more fixed in their delusions.

  8. Amanda
    Amanda says:

    This is a thought-provoking post. I don’t disagree that women don’t write about fights because they don’t want to see themselves reflected back at them, but personally, I don’t write about fights because my partner wouldn’t be comfortable with it.

    I’m surprised that people seem to think that single women aren’t blogging; the 20 Something Bloggers network features many single female bloggers.

    Jen’s observation wasn’t incorrect, though. There seems to be an age limit on single blogging. I would love to read stuff by 30 something women that isn’t all about kids or crafting.

  9. Dave Anderson
    Dave Anderson says:

    Penelope,
    I was watching the game last night and noticed along with the potential brain injuries the number of commercials that degraded men. They make us look weak, whipped, and stupid. This is nothing new. As it seems to permeate our culture today, and it gets laughs from both sexes–probably sells products, too. But I don’t like the fact that it sells us short. It’s hard enough for couples to co-habitate without these reinforcements of bad behavior. Yes, sometimes we’re delusional and sometimes we’re stupid, weak, and whipped. And sometimes we’re all of the above. But ONLY sometimes. Most of the time we are high-functioning, independent,thoughtful creatures. Or, am I just being delusional? I hope not.

  10. LaneEllen
    LaneEllen says:

    Huh. The majority of arguments in my household – perhaps 90% – are about communication.

    The other 10% are probably sex, money and household chores based.

    While sex, money and household chores might be the “topic” that is initially cited in more arguments, really – they come down to communication for us. This makes easier to deal with, really, because you’re not working on having a better sex life, better division of labor, AND better money management. You’re working on better communication that affects all of those things.

    Or at least, that’s what I delude myself into believing!

  11. Mel
    Mel says:

    I just found this blog last night linked from MetaFilter. What an incredible train wreck! The idea that anyone would take advice from you or pay for your services is laughable. A real true showing of the downside of the internet. Thanks for the chuckle!

  12. Donlyn Jones
    Donlyn Jones says:

    Thanks for the thought provoking post, Penelope. I found a blog recently written by a woman who has incredible struggles with her inlaws and writes about her feelings. Sometimes I laugh, most of the time I identify with her and many times I want to tell her to suck it up and move on.

    I am torn about responding to the football issue, but will take chance. I live in Smalltown USA where high school football games are the center of social and community life for 2 months out of the year. To think of NOT having football is just so foreign…how could that be?

    My son was in the 7th grade when he was tackled and ended up with bones sticking out of his forearm. The school sent him to a hospital not on my medical insurance plan where he was treated as an emergency case. There was surgery and many follow up visits. In the end the school said my insurance had to pay first and then the school would cover what was left. I spent the next several months fighting with both insurance carriers and the school to pay the bills. I still ended up having to pay hundreds out of pocket.

    But that was nothing. My stepson was just 16 when he walked out on a practice field in August with the temperature over 100 and fell dead on the field.

    And what happened? Football practice was cancelled for the rest of the week. The next week they practiced in the gym and then they made a hero out of him, dedicating games and bleachers and all other menial things to his memory.

    I can imagine life without football now. But I’m not sure we will ever change the football mentality that starts before kids are even in kindergarten.

  13. Jenny
    Jenny says:

    I posted a comment and it disappeared – was there a technical hitch last night?
    I have the same thoughts about smoking – a mass delusion if ever I saw one. I work near a major cancer hospital. Patients mid-treatment, with their drips on a stand, are a regular sight at a nearby cafe. As are smokers, including a Member of Parliament and our federal Aged Care Minister and her staff, puffing away. Obviously think it won’t happen to them.
    Some staffers from the cancer hospital told me recently that there’s research that 50pc of smokers are not in fact addicted and could give up “like that”. So their doctors were encouraged to tell their patients to give up, NOW. Not everyone is going to need patches and struggle to quit. I had a BF who was able to stop and start at will.

    I like this post – it’s wide-ranging.

    It’s true, many women don’t want to identify as feminist – yet reap the rewards of the struggles of feminists. I think it shows how limited our culture has become.

    As for accurate representations of women, don’t get me started. Every freaking blog I read is written by married/partnered women, and the designy/decor ones are all about “we” this, and “we” that. I can’t find any blogs written by women who are living good lives, single. Bitter, moi? Trying not to be, but possibily a bit disappointed with the way things have turned out for me, I’ll plead guilty to that. So, I want to find some people I can relate to, who will show me the way. Nuthin’. Unless maybe I want to read the ins and outs (as it were) of peoples’ sex lives. Should I give up on the internet? Hardly practical.

  14. William Bruce
    William Bruce says:

    I must, in typical form, address the open ends to some of Ms. Trunk’s arguments made here…

    Regarding football, I call “poppycock,” if only as a matter of rhetoric (hers and mine). Nowhere is an essential component of the argument displayed, namely, the ethical baseline that undergirds each conclusion. Rather, it must be assumed, I presume, that Ms. Trunk herself assumes such “delusional” Americans share her values and her sense of weighing risks and rewards. This is obviously not the case, and speaking personally, I am quite glad for it (“Who dat win the Superbowl?”). Delusions of football may run through our heads, but understandings of cost and benefit do too.

    Regarding our worship of the abnormal, hers is a strictly correct observation, but one so semantically misleading that it is, to my mind, ethically questionable to make. Our “glorification” of the abnormal is actually nothing of the sort, because of its selectivity and tendentiousness. What we glorify is a sort of “social excellence,” with a heavily utilitarian criteria for said “excellence.” Take her example in Temple Grandin: We want results, flashy and feel-good results.
    As far as the *individual* is concerned, we actually glorify a few aspects of the (sometimes abnormal) individual’s life, experience, or set of proclivities — ironically those same things that in isolation are the epitome of hyper-normality or ideal normality. Suffice it to say, I think it a very Aristotelian Weltanschauung, and we can leave the psychological and philosophical nuances for other fora…

    I must say, I am also amazed that more of the commentariat does not recognize the fundamental necessity of delusions (and illusions) to human life. Our surviving and thriving is predicated on them — Eugene O’Neill was right about this one, folks…

  15. Playstead
    Playstead says:

    Don’t play football, basketball (I’ve seen concussions in basketball), lacrosse, ski, wrestle, swim, box, scuba dive, bike, snowboard, soccer … we can all just sit on the couch, get depressed and rot away. You have to get out and live your life — just be as safe as you can.

    You are right in that no one wants to read about actual reality. People want “Fantasy Land.” Look at Avatar.

  16. David
    David says:

    I’m mid-career (age 42) and hit a huge roadblock in the corporate world due to my lack of social skills. I don’t have autism or aspergers, and I have enough manners to avoid things like burping in public, but you really need to develop strong bonds with people in order to do well in middle-management.

  17. Howard Fore
    Howard Fore says:

    Is it just me or did you spend an entire blog entry calling others on their delusions and end with advice that we need to examine our own, but didn’t give us an example of calling out your own? Yes, I read regularly (and love your blog) and know that you do call out your own, but if you’re going to stir the pot that much you really need to put your money where your mouth is in a more immediate fashion.

    About the Pioneer Woman blog, it’s story that’s all. Maybe it’s not one you’re not interested in. Maybe she doesn’t tell as much of the story as you’d like to read, but it’s her story not yours. And the recipes rock.

    You are right about football though (says the man who spent about 8 hours at a Superbowl party, although that was more about the social event than the game). I’m going to do everything I can possibly do to keep my son from playing football, even if I have to stop going to/watching college football games to do it. We’re starting the soccer route with our daughter, hopefully it will carry over for him. OTOH he may exhibit absolutely no interest in sports. Who knows.

  18. Kari
    Kari says:

    Well what resonated with me here is the part about no one wanting to talk about fights, so that’s what I’m going to talk about – except it’s with my 16yo son. I feel like a total failure as a parent right now, and I don’t see a lot of blogs about that (none in fact). All the mommie blogs say is how “wonderful” it is to have children and how “important” a job I am supposedly doing as a mother. Well ya know what? I feel like I suck at my job and I’m doing the very best I can, so where does that leave me? I wish I were deluded…..

  19. Maurice
    Maurice says:

    It never amazes me that Association Football (Soccer) gets such a free ride in the states in many countries there is serious sectarian violence and right wing violence associated with soccer, riots with multiple fatalities and in fact soccer has led to a war in one case. And you want scary watch a match featuring Galatasarayat at home.

    With my last name if I went to the wrong type of bar in Glasgow or Northern Inland id be in deep trouble, it like a Black guy going to the teabager convention and commenting "That Sarah Palin's Hwat"

    Note that a USA Soccer squad member playing for Rangers recently got his car torched again – €“ of course you can't tell if this was racial or sectarian.

  20. Pirate Jo
    Pirate Jo says:

    “And Generation X women, after creating the first fertility crisis in history by putting off kids for work, realized that they'd rather be home with kids than work full-time.”

    I keep hearing that here, but doubt that it is true. Because here is something else that is true of Generation X women. We keep getting hit by recessions and lousy job markets. We bought our houses at hugely inflated prices and paid more for our college educations than any other generation in history (until Gen Y). We will not get Social Security benefits. The only thing we will have to retire on is our 401Ks, most of which are sitting at a loss in basis right now. I am thankful for one thing, though, and it’s that I never had kids. If I was saddled with those expensive noseminers, any hope I had of even being able to feed myself, let alone retire, would vanish completely.

    What makes you think all these Gen X women regret not having kids? I got my tubes tied at age 34 just to keep it from happening. Kari’s post above only reinforces this.

  21. Vicki
    Vicki says:

    Regarding women and blogging about conflict, especially with significant others: most eschew it out of respect for their partners. My husband doesn’t tell all his friends that sometimes I do thing X which annoys him and results in a fight, and I don’t tell the whole internet that my husband does thing Y which annoys me and results in a fight. I don’t have that right, because it’s his privacy.

    Fair’s fair, and I think people who don’t blog so much about these big conflicts and for the most part portray their significant others in a positive (notice, not angelic) light are classy. Pioneer Woman overdoes it a bit, but I like that she never talks bad about her husband, despite whatever conflicts they might have in private.

    Look at Jenny Sanford. Mark Sanford really pulled a good one over her. And she is getting divorced and telling everyone about it. But in her interviews-a lot these days since she’s promoting a book-, she doesn’t say, ‘Oh, that sleaze, that whoring guy,” but has only nice things to say about him (although she is extremely critical.)

    One that really sticks to mind is a story she told on NPR where she said he was so frugal (note, didn’t say cheap, but frugal, which still gives you the idea that the guy’s cheapness was at levels of jerkdom without making her look bad). She says that for one birthday, he got her a card with a picture of a bike on it and said, “This is half a bike, I’ll give you the other half for Christmas.” And he did. And it still tells the story of the interesting conflict in their marriage without namecalling. That’s the trick.

  22. Kari
    Kari says:

    Pirate Jo, I can honestly say that I went against my instincts about having a baby … I knew I wasn’t cut out for it, but social and family pressure caused me to become … hey! DELUSIONAL! Interesting… anyway, you have my respect for honoring yourself. I’m sure things will work out for me and my son, but right now I kind of wish I hadn’t put myself through this nightmare.

  23. Pirate Jo
    Pirate Jo says:

    Hang in there, Kari. He is 16. Most of us were little arseholes at that age! And maybe since your family helped pressure you into it, they can help you out a little now, too.

  24. neko
    neko says:

    uhm, “nose-miners” .. ?

    that’s GENIUS.

    Re womens’ blogs & wanting to read those that mirror my personal experience … agree theyre not easy to find. I used to read the WashingtonCityPaper’s blog — written by a 30-something mostly about about her dating life. While I couldnt relate to most of her musings (getting busy with a guy in a Jetta, etc), what touched me & pulled me into her story was her chronicaling of her father’s death. While I hadnt experienced the slow painful dying process as she had, her grief after the fact made me recall all too well my own feelings of utter loss after my dad (suddenly/unexpectedly) died two yrs before.

    So, even tho I dont – outwardly, anyway – have much in common with women like PT or Dooce, I can still very much appreciate their stories & wit & random insights re Life ….

  25. Sheryl
    Sheryl says:

    I like dooce because she’s not normal, and I like you because you’re not normal. I’m not normal, and I don’t get normal. Normal people make me feel like a loser, and I’m not. So the glorification of abnormal works for me because it’s comforting. I feel like less of a freak when I see other not-normals struggling and finding their way.

    A friend of mine is a mountain climber. He’s lost a number of friends to the sport, and he knows there’s a good chance that he’ll die on a mountain one day, but he’s happiest, he says, when he’s up above the tree line, breathing thin air. He stopped when his kids were born, and took it up again when they were in their 20’s.

    I think there’s a difference between delusion and calculated risk. I tell my stepkids to go ahead and make mistakes, but make them on purpose, because making mistakes while you’re pretending to do something else carries self-concept consequences that last a long time.

    So, mindfulness – yeah.

  26. Danny
    Danny says:

    Okay Penelope, you know I love to read your stuff but were you drunk when you wrote this one? It is all over the place. I will comment on the small part of it that did catch my interest. The risk involved with football – There are risks with everything that is fun. Skydiving, scuba, hang gliding, motor cross, auto racing, hockey, basketball, football, and yes, even volleyball. If you are afraid to take these risks, why bother to live in the first place?

    As for the rest of the post – What the?????

  27. Annie
    Annie says:

    It’s interesting that you say Gen Y has no appealing role models. After running into plenty of bumps in the economy road, the movie Reality Bites really resonated with me when she said “it’s about our generation having no real role models or heroes to look up to.”

    I think the internet has brought young women access to appealing role models (yourself included along with several other bloggers, entrepreneurs, women with real conflicts who are in touch with reality) whereas Gen X didn’t have the same mediums to express themselves and find people who inspire them.

  28. Rose
    Rose says:

    Temple Grandin changes the lives of children. That’s her biggest gift. I bet she’s not as HIGH MAINTENANCE as you are, bless your heart, Miss Penelope!

  29. Betsy
    Betsy says:

    I know I don’t post EVERYTHING with regards to our squabbles due to the audience, i.e. my father-in-law. So I try to keep the posts about me, my struggles as a human and never ever do I post about work or my struggles with work.

    I do post about my shame, my depression and my frustrations with my children. Although at times it is scary as I wonder what people think and then I think who gives a rats arse. It is for me that I write as the blog, well it is a web log, so if I don’t want anyone to read it, I shouldn’t write it.

    I don’t think anything I write about is abnormal or normal it is just mine. Am I normal? Am I abnormal? Who knows, but I know this, I sure am dysfunctional but working through it.

  30. mysticaltyger
    mysticaltyger says:

    Penelope,

    I think it’s time to admit your football example blew things out of proportion and thus, delusional, and therefore, a bad example.

    That said, this post had some great ideas in it.

    The whole idea about embracing mindfulness and letting go of our delusions is very Buddhist. The practice of meditation (which is promoted by Buddhists) gets at the same kind of thing as your example of balancing a book on one’s head. Try chanting or focusing on your breath for 5 or 10 minutes without having a thought run through your mind. It’s very difficult. But just doing the exercise cultivates discipline.

  31. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    I”m never one to defend Madison as cosmopolitan. But Wisconsin is a HUGE football state. In Wisconsin you can check a box on your state tax return to give money to the Green Bay Packer’s stadium. I’m not kidding.

    -Penelope

  32. Stacy
    Stacy says:

    It’s not the Packer’s stadium, it’s a municipal stadium. That Green Bay can keep a pro team is fairly impressive–Los Angeles can’t.

  33. Joe Campbell
    Joe Campbell says:

    What is delusional, is the inequity in the salaries of a football player (this applies to most professional sports also) and that of a fireman who will save your life. With out question I am a capitalist at heart and and if someone offers me 20 million to run around on a field in spandex and slap me on the behind side, you bet! However as that same capitalistic consumer I also vote with my dollars and viewing habits of which the Super Bowl received none. Also before you start reading this as anti-sports that isn’t the case either, as I believe this provides our society with a competitive edge and is positive endeavor. It is the false economy of [professional sports] which we build up year over as some sort of perverted snowball rolling down hill. I can’t help but think of the movie “Dance With Me” where the “in the closet” ball room dancer puts on a false front as “Mr Big Sports” to not fall under suspicion of his sexuality! Professional sports has grown into “cranberry’s”, we are told we should like them so we start eating them at Thanks Giving and just keep doing so “because”. Ok, here is a challenge, the Super Bowl can be number one, fine. But how about making something like NOVA at least number 5? Its a start…

  34. Cloe
    Cloe says:

    I agree.. bringing children or even just letting them watch it in television is like encouraging them to watch wrestling.. it won’t do them any good.. sure football is a sport but it’s not healthy to let the kids watch it.. it can be very brutal.

  35. Micaela
    Micaela says:

    I hate football. I am non-Jewish, white, and raised in the Southeast (where I returned to and currently live). I have never ever understood or enjoyed commercialized mass marketed pro sports. Take me to a live college basketball game (men or women’s) and I can enjoy myself. Take me to a live baseball game, and I can enjoy myself. But I’ve never understood the full-blow addiction, mania, and worship of pro sports. Especially the more violent ones. But I’m also agnostic, semi-vegetarian, anti-gun, pro-choice and pro-gay, and very worried about the environment we are leaving future generations. Never have fit the mold in this part of the U.S. Felt normal in Oregon and Pacific Northwest and felt invisible (therefore not freakish) in New Jersey and New York City. However, through technology I have found folks like me in my area and it is validating. I just don’t get to hang with them very much (I’m a work outside of the home Mom). So it’s still lonely (referencing your newer post about the greatness of Twitter).

  36. DL Cummings
    DL Cummings says:

    “Kids who play football in high school are more likely to die from that than drunk driving or guns. And parents encourage their kids to play this sport?”

    Meh, forget the numbers and let's take a more philosophical approach.

    So what?

    It's likely one might find any two activities to compare and suggest that one is more dangerous than the other; however, that says nothing to whether one should or should not either engage in or enjoy either activity. As I see it, you've given no authoritative reason to be against football other than finding another activity that yields less injury. That's not really convincing, nor a solid example of delusion – one could be here all day listing activities juxtapose each other as "evidence."

    “The celebration of abnormal is a delusional luxury of the relatively normal population.”

    Not sure I agree here. My question is, "Why not celebrate uniqueness – in any form it comes in?" Society is rife with underdog stories and they aren't relegated to any particular portion of the population. Oprah grew up in poverty and Temple grew up autistic; both providing different segments of the population something to look up to, to aspire – even if those looking up never come close to achieving what they have.

    Reality doesn't drive the human spirit, hope does and it hope comes from those unique individuals that, in reality, achieve more than most, but via hope inspire the masses. Personally, I find my revision of your statement to be more accurate:

    The celebration of abnormal is one of the few luxuries afforded to the entire population equally.

  37. Brooke @ Parenting from Scratch
    Brooke @ Parenting from Scratch says:

    This is really interesting. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the fact that the ONE thing I won’t blog about is conflict with my husband (I mostly write about parenting). I think it’s perhaps because a segment of my readership is related to my husband, and I don’t want to make them uncomfortable. But that’s not a very good reason, if I examine it. Also, I think that writing negative things about my husband would be disrespectful, in the same way that talking bad about him with a girlfriend is (which I certainly do, but I make an honest attempt to keep this at a minimum). But I wonder if there’s a way to write about the conflict without making him the bad guy.

  38. A Week In The Life of A Redhead
    A Week In The Life of A Redhead says:

    As a mom of a boy who decided to play football in high school, I can understand your anger about this, but as someone raised around men, and often surrounded by a home full of teenage boys, I think you are looking at this bass ackward my dear.

    Think of all the men who jump from planes, fly jets into war, fly in special suits off mountains like we saw on TED, go into war or illness torn countries to be the first to help – at great risk to their lives. Many, many men do dangerous things everyday. Think of the policeman who shows up for the domestic violence dispute, or the firemen who ran to 911.

    I understand that there is a breed of humans (as we are seeing with the Olympics) who live at the edge of the envelope. Football players are no different. Hell, look at boxers for that matter.

    Penelope there are many boys who would never make it through high school without sports – especially football and rugby, because sitting in those chairs and listening to someone go on and on about Animal Farm makes them want to run screaming mad into the ocean. Instead, they go push, shove, run and tackle – something boys do everyday, on any lawn in America.

    Football players are grown men who know the risks, and if you tell them they could die, I would bet you my life savings they would all line-up to still play – just like the guy who jumps out of that airplane, or walks a tightrope without a safety net across the distance between the Twin Towers. (OK he was French).

    Joe Montana’s own boys play football. Think that’s not a guy who doesn’t understand the risks?

    As a mom, the greatest gift I can give to my son is help him do well in school academically, but also to allow him to be the man he wants to be. As the daughter of a nurse I am well aware of the risks, and watch his every move on that field. But he loves football. It has changed him. It has made him more confident and he now loves school.

    He is more relaxed and hangs around some amazing boys who average grade points that blow my mind (4.25+) that also play football. Some even play rugby. Luckily mine does not ;-)

    Did you know young men have died running up and down a basketball court playing basketball? Yep.

    At some point I have to also let my son get into a vehicle and drive – with friends. Tell me this isn’t something that shakes every mother to her core.

    But football? Girl, go visit a rugby match.

    Then we’ll chat.

    Catherine

  39. Arlene Chase
    Arlene Chase says:

    I do not think I would agree with the way protection of NFL football players is going. Rugby players have very little protection yet thy have fewer injuries than the NFL.
    Is the protection being provided to NFL players causing the injuries?
    Is the players taking to many chances because they feel they are protected?

  40. Ryan
    Ryan says:

    Hmmm, if someone chooses to play football, or rugby, or whatever other they choose, it’s their choice. As long as they’re aware of the risks, let them get on with it. What WE shouldn’t do is glorify it, and make heroes of them, causing young kids to ditch their academic studies for the dream of being a millionaire football player.

  41. Thom@Home Business Reviews
    Thom@Home Business Reviews says:

    Penelope: “But we have to start somewhere in order to battle the magnetism of delusion. It’s easy to call out other peoples’ delusions. It matters much more to call out our own.

    I agree with the sentiment of the last thought presented. But, being able to accomplish this takes more courage and self-honesty than most unmindful people are willing to muster up.

    The “magnetism of delusion” begins with attachment. Attachment to a thing, a person, an idea – to whatever. And that attachment is usually the result of some kind of desire or craving which maintains the attachment.

    Many people wander through their lives unconscious of their actual thought processes. They don’t watch what kinds of thought they are allowing themselves to think. And as a result of this, they allow others to subconsciously replace their own thoughts with the thoughts (or perceptions) of others. Advertisers love this, because it opens up an opportunity for them to insert their slogan or jingle into your mind so that it becomes the thought one associates with this or that product.

    Doing battle with “the magnetism of delusion” begins with honestly assessing the situation within one’s own mind and “seeing things as they actually are” rather than how one might have been conditioned to see them. And you are right, loosening up that mental conditioning is the work of mindfulness, as well as being being able to honestly assess one’s own attachments.

  42. Simon Mayeski
    Simon Mayeski says:

    Perhaps I’m a little late on this discussion, but here is the link to a TED Talk by Temple Grandin…I don’t see that anyone else has posted a link to it. Worth a view; only 19:44 minutes, both made and posted at TED Feb 2010.

  43. Jonha
    Jonha says:

    Hi Penelope,

    Sometimes we need to be delusional because it’s a state that we find ourselves a little more comfortable than the reality.

    Jonha

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