A Feminist Love For Football
LIANE HANSEN, host:
The college football season is in full swing with its pageantry and rivalries. Commentator and Florida State Seminoles fan Diane Roberts is feeling some ambivalence. She's a feminist who loves football.
Ms. DIANE ROBERTS (Essayist): I know. I know. The game reinforces the most retrograde gender roles. The men are front and center hitting each other. The women stay on the sidelines encouraging the men to hit each other.
Look at the clothes for god sake. The cheerleaders wear short skirts and eyeliner. The players wear tight britches and huge shoulder pads. The game is a feast of hyper masculinity with a side order of phallic metaphor: penetration, scoring. It's stylized warfare, fighting over 100 yards worth of symbolic turf. The object being to march deeper and deeper into enemy territory.
The very language of the game is combative: the bomb, the shotgun, the sack. The only time the game gets in touch with its feminine side is when, say, you're on your own, 25, down by six with seven seconds to go in the fourth, then you throw the Hail Mary. As usual, the men get themselves into trouble and expect a women to bail them out.
I know. I know. No thinking person, no lover of peace and good manners and human decency, and especially no feminist has any business spending Saturday afternoon with 80,000 semi-drunk people hollering, kill him, at a bunch of 20-year-old boys, who may or may not know that the polarized caps are melting or who may or may not have read Virginia Woolf.
I was a fan before I was a feminist. I started going to Florida State games at the age of nine. After my father died, I inherited his season tickets. He loved the game. I love the game. I know I shouldn't, but I do. I love the elegance with which a quarterback throws. For a fraction of a second, just before he releases the ball, he poses with the grace of a Greek statue.
I love the strategic complexity of football. It's like playing chess with a bunch of 300-pound guys name Bubba. I love the balletic grace of a receiver catching a perfect pass.
But college football is more than a game. It's a way of defining yourself - a tribal identity. I am a Seminole.
(Soundbite of music)
HANSEN: Diane Roberts goes to all her team's games in Tallahassee, Florida where she teaches writing.
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