So as you can see, Co-Blogger CBD wrote a big thing about boycotting the NFL and pleasure shaming and the like.
I’m apparently whiny and delusional, but it’s OK, I’m a conservative academic, I’m used to having names thrown at me. I probably am both of those anyway.
There are however, 2 points I think are worth making.
- Even if you think it’s a straw man to say that all economic decisions should be subject to this analysis, you cannot ignore the similarities between the argument here and the argument made by the left re: Chick-fil-a and Koch. The only real difference is that many conservatives would argue the Koch/CFA positions are not “wrong” and “culture destroying.” But the left sees them that way, and sees the NFL decisions much in the same way we approach Koch/CFA. So we’d have to conclude that the left is at least internally consistent here. And frankly that’s not an argument I want to concede. In fact I don’t think the left is internally consistent at any point, ever.
- I’m also sympathetic to the points made by AlextheChick and Brent Cochran because there’s more to the NFL/Marvel/etc. than simple pleasure. Those institutions are inherently wrapped up in our culture in a way that makes it hard to disentangle it. I’m drawn to the Gertzian view of culture as “webs of significance man himself has spun.” And indeed, many of us have spun incredible webs of significance relative to various entertainment franchises and sports. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing by itself either.
As things go, it was easy for me to walk away from the NFL precisely because I had none of those webs. St. Louis didn’t have a team during my life until 1995, and even then they were bad for a whole bunch of years. Then they were good for a bit. Then Kroenke wanted to move the team so he tanked it as a way to poison the market, justifying his move. If the team tanking wasn’t enough he shit all over our city to make sure the earth was salted. So my webs began to unravel well before this current brouhaha, and were non-existent by the time what’s his face did his “protest.” There was no significance for me to throw off. I just stopped watching due to lost entertainment value.
For people, however, who were not in a similar situation to me, I fully understand how it may be harder to give up something that is effectively a part of their identity (regardless of how small that part is and/or you think it should be.) If the tables were turned and I were being told to give up Cardinals baseball in the same fashion, I’d imagine I’d push back (to put it mildly.) Ignoring the a priori cultural significance of football (and by extension the NFL which is the premiere display of football) to the political question is, I think, counter productive, in that it prevents us from actually having a rational discussion regarding what to do about the left trying to poison the well.
Now yes, this is in tension with the fact that our primary voice in this mess is our pocket book, a point Cochran reached during his podcast that I wish would have been expanded upon (Take note: that’s not an accusation or blame, carrying on a conversation is hard, and necessarily limiting to the topics discussed.) Merely saying “CHOOSE OR DIE!” does nothing to quell this tension (indeed in many respects it only makes it larger.) Saying “dump the NFL” is not really like saying “Stop shopping at Target.” The cultural element of the former puts them on entirely different levels.
Now there’s a whole sub-discussion here about how things become messed up when something that’s content neutral (like a sport) gets tied up in culture with something that has a level of agency (an organization.) But I don’t really feel like fleshing that out right now so maybe I’ll get to it later.