Finally, there is the issue most closely tied to Dr. King's legacy: the "dream" of living in a colorblind world where people are judged by the content of their character. To say that the NFL's deeply conservative all-white ownership doesn't exercise racial prejudice is like saying Florida doesn't suffer from sunshine. This past off-season, the league had eight head coaching positions to fill. All eight were filled by white hires. Despite the NFL's much-celebrated Rooney Rule, which requires the interviewing of “minority head coaching candidates”, the league is down to four head coaches of color including Latino Ron Rivera. That means only 9% of coaches are African American in a league where 70% of players are African American: the greatest disparity in a decade.The 2012 NFL regular season opened September 5 with the Cowboys beating the Giants in the Meadowlands. From that point forward until last night when Baltimore beat New England in the AFC Championship Game I calculate that I watched approximately 219 hours of televised NFL action, or over nine days (which will be nine-and-a-half days after the Super Bowl). For the most part all I use my 13-inch TV for anymore is to watch the NFL. I saw almost every snap of every Seahawks game. But the pitiful part of the story is that it could have been worse. I don't have cable. So I didn't have access, unless I wanted to go to a bar, to Monday Night or Thursday Night Football. Minus the two Seahawks games this season played on those nights, and available on broadcast TV to me as a viewer in the home market, this would have added an additional 96 hours, or four more days in front of the idiot box.
What kind of idolatry is this? We spend two weeks of solid worship from the end of summer to the beginning of winter soaking up images of athletes moving quickly in colorful uniforms; images sandwiched between images of smart phones and fried chicken and Mercedes. Do we feel better? I don't know. Sometimes I do. But a lot of the time I feel stressed-out. Mostly I am passive: reclining on my mattress on the floor, a pillow under my head; maybe reading a TomDispatch article I've printed off the web; a solitary figure; a bachelor, alone, staying true to boyhood ghosts.