Governor Mark Dayton, Lifetime Friend Of The Norseman for his role in getting the stadium passed, really said something dumb on Minnesota Public Radio yesterday. Now, you might think this is going to be a political screed--it's not. If Morrie Lanning or Julie Rosen (both Republicans) had said this, I'd say the exact same thing.
And oh...if Kurt Zellers had said this. Kurt, Kurt, Kurt.
Dayton was asked about Adrian Peterson's arrest in Houston a couple of weeks back, and he started out with fairly innocuous, relatively run of the mill comments about it. I mean, he's a politician, what would you expect? His first quote, which I really don't have any issue with:
"Idle time is the devil's play," said Dayton, describing the NFL's six-month offseason. "It means that young males who are heavily armored and heavily psyched as necessary to carry out their job are probably more susceptible to being in bars at 2 o'clock (in the morning) and having problems. It doesn't excuse it. It just says this probably comes with it."
In that regard, he's not altogether wrong, although I think the 'heavily armored' description was kind of funny. For some reason, I get a mental image of Christian Ballard or John Sullivan walking into a nightclub wearing medieval armor and picking a joust with someone. Whatever. But his point has some validity--young men, with a lot of money and testosterone, probably tend to get in more trouble than 98 pound weaklings still living at home depending on Mom and Dad's allowance. I'll concede that point.
It's what he said next that had me do this:
And then this:
Shake one of their hands and you know that this (football player) is someone who is not your ordinary citizen. They're heavily armored, heavily psyched to do what they have to do and go out there. It's, basically, slightly civilized war," Dayton said.
"Then they take that into society. Much as soldiers come back, they've been in combat or the edge of it and suddenly that adjustment back to civilian life is a real challenge. And that's part of the reality."
Again with the heavily armored thing. Chain mail and a long sword, and then we drink mead! But not the point.
The point comes after the jump.
Football is a game. It's not basically, a slightly civilized war. It's a freaking game. It's a game that requires emotion, and it's a game that evokes emotion, but it's a game. If ever there was a comparison that drives me nuts, it's comparing games of competition to war.
That, and the description of war as 'civilized'. It's not. It's ugly, it's filthy, and it's nothing like it's usually portrayed in a Hollywood movie. There's nothing glamorous about it, but it's also the most basic level of human endeavors. It tests your very being, and if you come through it, nothing will ever really stress you out again.
It also effects you in ways that never really allow you to return to the person you were before you went to war. You change. Forever. Some people handle that change better than others, and some people can't handle that change at all.
Football is a job. Front line combat affects your soul.
To compare a football season where a guy has a lot of idle time to soldiers coming home from a war and trying to re-integrate into society is one of the dumbest, stupidest, most ridiculous things I've ever heard. It even tops AP's infamous 'slavery' comment during the lockout last year.
I've done both, and I can most definitely assure you, the emotions of playing a game and the emotions of somebody shooting at you are about the equivalent of comparing the atmosphere of the Earth to the atmosphere of Saturn.
Both the professional football player and the professional soldier volunteer. But that's about where the similarity ends. Football players live at home, probably a very nice home, and they go to work--probably in a pretty nice car or truck. Their job happens to be professional football, and they're well compensated. Soldiers go literally halfway around the world and don't see their families for over a year and live in a tent, or if they're lucky, a modified trailer that has an air conditioner.
Football players take a physical pounding. Soldiers on the front line take a physical pounding. But they also get shot at and have to deal with the thought of death in the back of their mind. Every minute of every day.
I'm not righteously offended, nor do I demand an apology on behalf of all combat veterans. That's as stupid as the comments that Dayton made. I just want people to quit comparing sports to war. I'd just like Governor Dayton to use a better comparison next time.
Sports are sports. A game.
Something that at the end of the day means nothing.
It's nothing like war. It never has been. It never will be. And comparing the social habits of a rich athlete with returning combat soldiers makes about as much sense as a comparative analysis between a Kleenex and an elephant.
Let's not do that again, Governor. Okay? And you're still a Lifetime Friend of the Norseman.