The Pittsburg Steelers Suck: How “group think” is destroying the NFL

I will forever now hate the Pittsburg Steelers for the way they handled the National Anthem and their individual player Alejandro Villanueva who was the only person who came out of the player’s tunnel to pay respect to the flag during last Sunday’s game.  In the past I’ve been supportive of the head coach Mike Tomlin but now under this national crisis he’s shown himself to be one of the villains, and I have no place in my life for a person like that.  I’m not going to watch any more Steelers games in the NFL, I can tell you that.  To watch how excited people were that Villanueva was the only one to stand for the anthem, then to take that away with a weak apology to the “team” the way events occurred the next day displayed everything that is wrong with football.  Obviously Tomlin and the Steelers teammates had gotten to Villanueva forcing the guy to wipe everything good he had done away completely for the good of the “group think” concept of team sports, and I think it’s disgusting.

As much positive that I’ve written about American football, and how it is a game of capitalism, there has always been that one little thing that has bothered me about “the game.”  And that is and was for me the culture of the locker room.  Now to that effect the best comments I have heard on this subject came from Chris Carter shown below in a video.  But for all the passion Chris showed toward the locker room culture that is precisely what always turned me off to team sports.  If I could have just played the game and embarked in the heroics of what happened on the field—I would have loved to play football and other team sports.  When I was in school I was heavily recruited by many coaches and my parents really pushed me to participate.  I was a very fast kid, a strong kid and a naturally gifted athlete.  I healed quickly, my body responded well in the weight room by putting on muscle when needed in a few days—everything about my physical body was what coaches wanted except for one thing, I thought the whole experience of the team concept was stupid.

When I was in the fifth grade I had a physical education teacher who really was encouraging me to be a multiple sport athlete because it was obvious to him that I was the fastest and strongest for my size of anybody in school.  But in sixth grade the next gym teacher was an arrogant prick who was all about group think, and I was opposed to everything that guy stood for.  I can say I hated that person before we ever spoke to each other because his value system was so diametrically opposed to mine.  However, let’s back up before going on—because this is important to the situation we are seeing now.  Even more than physical ability I was gifted with clarity of thought that extended beyond any parental teaching that anybody could give me.  Some might say that God walked with me very closely and guided me—which I think takes away from the actual value of my own decision making—but I always had very clear thoughts about how things should be, and had the courage to act on them—so when I was being groomed for being the next hot athlete in grade school, I resisted because I was opposed to all forms of “group think” that were presented to me—and public education was all about “group think” and “peer pressure.”  Ultimately what changed Alejandro Villanueva from a solitary figure pledging allegiance in the player’s tunnel and capturing America’s pride for about 24 hours but then reducing him to s slobbering apologist surrendering his big body to the rights of the “team” was that peer pressure instruction which had molded him into a professional football player in the NFL.  All those players at that level are governed by the same rules and those rules greatly restrict them as human beings which is why I never developed into an athlete outside of gym class.  I always fought peer pressure from day one in public school and that made the experience miserable for me.  I am thankful to this very day that I was aware of it from such a young age.  Group think is the worst aspect of human nature and I was always immune to it which then allowed me to see things without the emotion of worrying about what other people thought about it.  You can’t be a truly free person in life until you have made that personal decision not to worry about the opinions of other people.

I had a long talk with my gym teacher in the fifth grade when the subject of showers came up.  It was a purely voluntary thing to strip down and shower with the other kids after gym class but I wasn’t about to take off my cloths and share my naked body in the presence of my classmates.  I didn’t like those kids and I surely wasn’t going to reveal myself in a naked form to assimilate with them.  My parents then got involved and they all spoke to me that once we started doing sports in the seventh and eighth grades, that showering would be mandatory.  The more they pushed, the more I dug in.  I always saw the shower thing as a way to strip away the natural defenses of clothing and to symbolize removing our individuality into the naked truth of kinship where everyone was equally naked and sharing that experience together.  I wasn’t going to do it and that was all there was to it.  A lot of people were disappointed in me and they let me know it through peer pressure.  Yet the more they pushed, the more I dug in and the only place I found relief was in books, video games, and adventures outside of the school environment.  Since I didn’t waste an ounce of my time on satisfying other people’s peer pressure, I was free to do many other things leading me to a very colorful life full of unique experiences.  It all started by refusing to shower with other kids in school.

As a lot of these professional athletes grew into the specimens of perfection that they must be to play in the NFL at some point in the past they had to assimilate to that group think mentality which is what quickly controlled the behavior of Alejandro Villanueva.  These players are bigger, stronger, faster and tougher than the average person, but they are weak in the mind and can easily be controlled by little people like Mike Tomlin because of their preponderance to “group think.”  Groups are never more powerful than individuals and that is essentially the opposite message that the concept of team sports tries to convey.  Parents push their kids into team sports always hoping that their kid will win the lottery and become one of these professional athletes and live a good life under the protection of “group think” but you know what, I would never curse anybody I loved with such a limited vision for life.  I would never tell a kid I loved to take that first step in a locker room to become equal and bonded through nudity surrendering their individuality to a group called a “team.”  Not that the showering situation is about being gay, which I think is somewhat of a problem.  Athletes often have a “bros before hoes” clause in their psychological pacts with each other which I am adamantly against—and that mentality starts in the locker room culture—the all for one and one for all mentality of group think.

That’s why this whole NFL protest concept is so dangerous, because here you have millionaire athletes who are public celebrities behaving so quickly to the peer pressure of group think that they are easily used to sell social justice radicalism to their fans without understanding really what they are doing.  Trump is right about what he said about NFL owners being afraid of their players.  And coaches like Mike Tomlin was trying to get in front of that fear by uniting his team through group think, even though what Alejandro Villanueva did was good for the country.  But it wasn’t good for his team so guess what he did—he put Villanueva on the spot to protect the reputation of the team.  Obviously he tried to back track his vitriol once there were reports that Steelers fans were burning their jerseys and Terrible Towels.  Because here’s the secret to the whole thing, fans of the NFL love to watch team sports and root for the collective efforts of the team they have picked in an artificial war on the field of play.  But if you listen to them talk at tail gating parties before the games you hear the recitation of individual stats.  Those individuals are picked for Fantasy Football teams based on their individual performance.  So to the fans, it’s all about individualism and Alejandro Villanueva embodied that spirit gloriously before the game which caused all this trouble.  Once people were reminded that Alejandro Villanueva was just another “team player” yielding to the peer pressures of the world he became no better than anybody else—certainly not someone to celebrate.  And that is why the NFL is dying before our eyes.

When Aaron Rogers tried to get the Green Bay Packers fans to lock arms at Lambeau Field during a Thursday Night Football game on a national stage he was embarrassed to find that almost nobody did it.  As a jock trained to think in group assimilation he assumed the fans would follow him like all the other idiots he knew from his locker room.  People do not like to share themselves with people who do not possess the same value systems.  This is why team sports is such a big part of public education, because the goal is to create a class structure where athletes are considered elite people who then impose peer pressure on the rest of the world to satisfy the objectives of the government institution.  That might work conceptually, but it doesn’t work intellectually—and the effort failed.  But the attempt to even try it reveals the ugly side of the NFL which makes it easy for fans to turn away from the moment that it doesn’t give them what they want—which is relief from politics and the anxieties of our days.  When athletes show themselves to be simple automatons subject to group think instead of dynamic individuals that might be on the next insurance commercial, then the magic of football leaves and something else will replace it.  And the Pittsburg Steelers have really shot themselves in the foot assuming that people would be with them no matter what.  Now they have to live with their bad decision, which won’t be easy for them to do.  Speaking for myself, I will never watch another football game where the Steelers are playing.  I have better things to do than to waste my time on them.

Rich Hoffman

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