A generation ago, comedian George Carlin aptly described football as a “20th-century technological struggle.” Baseball—that quaint pastoral pastime of the 19th century—had lost hearts and minds to a game that seemed to better reflect the values of the military-industrial complex—much to the chagrin of the George Wills of the world, who imagined America as full of yeoman farmers building tiny Fields of Dreams everywhere.
By comparison, football was an intense series of bare-knuckled battles fought by tank-like men between urgent committee meetings of the war machine. As such, a paternalistic conservatism once hummed in the background of the National Football League experience—the grizzled coaches, the combat metaphors, the emphasis on discipline and toughness.
But the league you will see in Sunday’s Super Bowl is no longer your granddaddy’s NFL, the one that cloaked itself in blue-collar conservatism. It’s transforming into an unholy fusion of virtue-signaling liberalism and virtue-free libertarianism, with wall-to-wall sports gambling ads interspersed with woke slogans such as “Football Is Gay.”