Virtual Voices

Hell, heaven, and the NFL in between

Sports

"War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it," Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman famously said during the (un)Civil War. In 1880 he orated before 10,000 or so Ohioans, "There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but, boys, it is all hell."

Baseball, on the other hand, is not hell. In Field of Dreams, characters who encounter the ballpark amid cornfield ask whether it's heaven. Protagonist Ray Kinsella replies that it's Iowa, but concludes toward the end, as he relishes family happiness, "Maybe this is heaven."

How about the National Football League? The NFL today suspended New Orleans coach Sean Payton for one year, saying he attempted to cover up a program that promised bounties to players if their hyper-crunching hits knocked opponents such as Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers out of games.

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Many have written about professional football as the sports equivalent of war, with arch comments about quarterbacks throwing long bombs, etc. Given the size and speed of players, the 100 yards of turf is certainly a minefield, with some injuries waiting to happen-but they are collateral damage, not intentional infliction.

Hell is hell and war may be like it, but football can and has been refined at times. Some hyper-fans are complaining about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell turning football battles into patty-cake, but he was right to say, "We are all accountable and responsible for player health and safety and the integrity of the game. … When there is targeting of players for injury and cash rewards over a three-year period … a strong and lasting message must be sent that such conduct is totally unacceptable."

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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