Switched It

Recently I’ve come to a decision which wasn’t that easy but I think it needed to be done. This is not a common thing to do and as much as I was emotionally invested I think I have done the right thing. I have decided to change my NFL team allegiance to the Green Bay Packers. I have been a New Orleans Saints supporter since 2008 when I saw them play at Wembley Stadium versus the San Diego Chargers. Before that I guess I was a Miami Dolphins supporter like quite a lot of people my age.

When Channel 4 started on UK television back in 1982 it started showing American Football and because it was new a number of people at school started watching it. If you have to chose someone to support and it doesn’t come from family pressure then lots of people chose the Dolphins in those days. NFL remained an important part of my life through university as we would watch the Superbowl each year while playing drinking games. I don’t think there was a Superbowl for about five years where I remember past the first quarter.

I’ve always kept an eye on NFL but came back to watching it more seriously when I got my own home and Sky TV. I know there are massive issues with the sport regarding health of players, treatment of women, racial inequality, pretty much everything but I still enjoy it. If I was completely moral about it I would probably not watch it anymore but I enjoy it. I’m not sure what that says about me. I don’t watch boxing though, I think it should be banned. If I’m honest with myself I probably think NFL should be banned. While I’m at it I also think the same about horse racing.

A few years ago I learnt that the Green Bay Packers didn’t have their own cheerleading team and that seems the correct thing to do. Cheerleading purely reduces women to sexual objects and nothing else. The last match I saw at Wembley had male cheerleaders too but that doesn’t stop it being a terrible thing. Just letting men do it as well doesn’t change the fact that it’s terribly sexist and objectifying. Some things just need to be stopped. Saying we’ll allow everyone else to do that thing doesn’t make that thing correct.

Also, upon investigation the Green Bay Packers are the only major sports franchise in the USA which is community owned. All the other teams are owned by individuals who have too much power. That’s why they buy sports teams. I’m all for community ownership of businesses and utilities, which is exactly what state ownership is. It seems the best way for the money to cycle around. I decided around the time I found this out that the Packers would be my third team. So, at that point, in order, my allegiance goes Saints, Dolphins, Packers. After that I don’t really care how the list goes as long as the Patriots are at the bottom.

What caused me to change my views? What about the New Orleans Saints made me want to leave them and choose a team from fuck knows where? Three things:

Drew Brees is the current Saints Quarterback and he is an amazing sport person. He can throw a ball really well. I have a NFL jersey with his name on the back. But, he has some questionable personal views. How much can I ignore those and just appreciate him as a sports person? Well, I was coping at that. A while back he appeared in a video by Focus On The Family. Any group called that sort of name in the USA tends to have questionable views about the humanity of humans. FOTF are anti-LGBT. Fuck them. Also, Brees defended his position along with asking pupils to take their bibles to school, which in itself isn’t an issue but religious people tend to have unwaving harsh views on certain types of people. When this event happened I was saddened but at the same time I knew that he was a great sportsman and his personal views don’t matter with respect to that.

Then, Drew Brees made a comment about not respecting anyone who doesn’t respect the flag. He was talking about people taking a knee during the national anthem. That comment almost tipped me over the edge. You can do what the fuck you want during your country’s magical song. I don’t care. I haven’t stood for a national anthem for years because I don’t understand what it is I am standing for. When I sit down I don’t hurt anyone. If your views are offended by someone sitting, or kneeling, then you are the one who needs to change. Shortly after his tweet the Brees family did correct it and apologised and said they would do what they can to help. This was too little too late and I mentioned to friends that it might be time for me to change my NFL team.

Protesting the systematic and racist treatment of black people in a country with a massive history of racism and slavery [much like our own] and doing so peacefully is perfectly acceptable. It IS racism if you then can’t get employed because the owners of teams don’t think you are the “right” person. When your peaceful protests don’t work and change the system then you need to make more vocal protests. The oppressors will respond with their own violence and then you know you are doing the right thing. The police violently attacking protesters who are there to complain about police brutality is hilarious as well as very sad. If you don’t think institutions can be racist then you clearly haven’t read a book.

The turning point for me in my journey to changing my team allegiance was hearing about how the Saints organisation had lent support in terms of time and people to the local catholic church to help it “manage” the PR around the child abuse cases going on in Louisiana. Now, my views on the child rape criminal organisation aside, it seems to be the easiest answer ever: do we lend support to an organisation which has covered up child rapists systematically over the years? If you spend more than one second trying to think that the answer is “no” then that is too long. You see how easy it is to fall on the correct side of this argument? Piece of piss.

So, that was the moment. When I learnt of that support for the church I chose to leave. Will they care? No. Do I care? Yes. I am now a supporter of the Green Bay Packers. I just need to learn where Green Bay is and hope it’s lovely and warm like Louisiana. I will be spending this summer watching last season’s games and getting up to date with the news. I will also be buying a block of cheese for my head. Go Packers!

Green Bay

I like American Football. Not sure why, I just do. I’ve a feeling it started young when Channel 4 was a new TV channel in the UK. I was probably about 12 when NFL started being shown on UK TV and it was different and exciting. My dad and I would sit and watch the show now and then. I became a Miami Dolphins fan, not sure why but that is who I chose. They may have been the most famous team at that time.

My allegiances were changed after seeing my first real NFL game at Wembley Stadium. On October 26 2008 I chose to support the New Orleans Saints in their match against the San Diego Chargers. Why? Because it was the Saints’ home game and hurricane Katrina had recently destroyed the city. As a bonus the New Orleans Saints won that game 37 – 32 and I became a full-on Saints supporter. So my teams are: New Orleans Saints and secondly the Miami Dolphins. It’s perfectly OK to have two teams in NFL.

As an aside here are the NFL matches I have seen at Wembley:

  • San Diego Chargers @ New Orleans Saints, 32 – 37, 26 October 2008
  • Denver Broncos @ San Francisco 49ers, 16 – 24, 31 October 2010 [added 18:28 30/10/14]
  • New England Patriots @ St Louis Rams, 45 – 7, 28 October 2012
  • San Francisco @ Jacksonville Jaguars, 42 – 10, 27 October 2013
  • Miami Dolphins @ Oakland Raiders, 38 – 14, 28 September 2014
  • Detroit Lions @ Atlanta Falcons, 22 – 21, 26 October 2014

[I’ve a feeling I’ve seen another match, but I don’t know which one so when I do remember I will place it in the list above] This has been sorted, thanks Rich.

If I was starting again and choosing a team then I would choose the Green Bay Packers. I could, of course, just change my allegiances now and maybe I will. It’s not like my blood runs black and gold. I will let you know how this process goes. At the moment it’s the start of a thought. It’s quite funny that people don’t change their banks or football teams. My association football [soccer] team is Tottenham Hotspur and I guess I could change them if I had good reason or even any bad reason. Who cares?

Here are my reasons for moving allegiances to the Green Bay Packers.

  • They are a non-profit, community owned sports organisation
  • They don’t have cheerleaders

The Packers are the ONLY non-profit community owned professional major league sports team in the USA. This is surely a good thing. The fact that they are, not the fact that they are the only one. It seems ridiculous to me that sports teams are owned by individuals or corporations. From a social and moral point of view the Packers are the team to choose.

Not having cheerleaders is a positive thing. Can you really, and I mean really, justify having women dancing in front of mostly male crowds in between the sports action, as entertainment? It is not justifiable. It demeans women. It enforces pre-existing notions of sexism and misogyny. I would argue the same for Formula 1 and other major motor racing creeds which have “grid girls” or models lining the route to the “room of uncomfortableness” after a race. Is the sport SO dull that it needs women to distract and entertain men? Wise up people. It’s simply sexist and appalling in this day and age.

My train of thought is now about the Packers and to move my support to them. I’m sure they’ll notice. There will be further updates as I make this journey.