Editor’s Note: This post is a transcript for one of our Weekly Calls on The Disposability of Men / Sports and Traumatic Brain injuries. We would love to have you join on the calls to understand why this is so important and to help us change the culture.
Lisa Hickey: Hello everyone! Thanks for joining the Disposability of Men ConvoCast. First we are going to look at some current events and then discuss ongoing social action ideas so that we can turn our conversation into action. And that’s really an important point. We start with the conversation so that we understand what’s going on. But then at some point we do want to actually create social change and take action.
I want to start with the statement: “First Do No Harm”. To me that’s a guiding principle for my life–and I would hope other people’s way of life. Even though there are specific instances where it may not be true—it’s the way that I like to think that lawyers and judges and doctors and all sorts of people use that statement as a guiding principle.
Big picture, on these calls we talk about: The Disposability of Men, CTE, Football, concussion, male violence, violence in general. Mike Kasdan and I talked about the different aspects of how to create social change and it led to the following framework. It is really important to keep thinking about how we create actions that actually do change our culture.
Step One: identify and articulate the places in our society that cause real harm
In football, one of the reasons we’re focusing on CTE is because it’s a very specific type of harm that people don’t know about and don’t understand. CTE is a brain disease caused by repetitive hits to the head. It’s different than a concussion which is also serious and causes harm. But you don’t need a concussion to develop CTE– it can happen over a very long period of time, with small hits that don’t appear to be harmful in isolation, but over time those small hits cause irreparable damage.
Step Two: Identify the social system structures and institutions that perpetuate that harm
After you’ve identified and clearly articulated the harm being caused, then you need to begin to identify the social system structures and institutions that perpetuate that harm.
The reason we talk about these issues on these calls is so we can get on the same page of the vocabulary and understanding what’s really happening. Then we start to identify the social systems, structures, and institutions that perpetuate the harm. And then we identify the ones that can help us create change.
For CTE, violence against men and boys, concussions—here are some of the systems that we’ve talked about on these calls that perpetuate the harm. There is the culture of football–it’s entertainment, it’s looked at as something glorious. It is something people can’t give up and has all sorts of great benefits — it’s addictive in many ways — and that culture itself helps perpetuate the harm of CTE. But it also includes the bigger cultural forces of violence and heroism and stoicism and the man-box and capitalism and greed and competition at all costs — all ideas that we talk about here and on other calls. And then there are family systems or education systems. There is misinformation in the media. And so there’s a lot of different systems that are help perpetuating this very specific type of harm.
Step Three: Identify the social system structures and institutions that can help STOP the harm
Then there’s systems that can help stop perpetuating the harm. We next need to identify the social system structures and institutions that can help create the change we want to see.
Social change starts when a social harm is first acknowledged—whether it’s cigarette smoking or it’s police violence against people of color or getting killed in traffic incidents by drunk drivers. The story often starts with the victims and the families of victims and then those become part of a bigger storytelling community. The media, social media, word of mouth, passing it along in family conversations.
But it’s important to realize that there are other institutions, too, that can help. Like the medical community, in the case of big tobacco, and their role in helping to stop smoking. The medical community was instrumental in helping make that happen. In that smoking example, there were also economic forces as well as an important institution of our government: the legal system.
And so I think it’s really important to understand how all those systems work together.
Here on these Disposability of Men, CTE ConvoCasts, we have victims and the families of victims on our calls. We have both, we have people who have actually gotten brain injuries from playing contact sports, we have families of victims—and we have people who care about those victims. This creates a story-telling community. We are a media company–that’s what we do. We tell these stories. We create memes. We write articles. We research what’s going on. We figure out the best way to get that story across. We talk about it.
We invite others into the community who are a part of the institutions that can help us create change. For example, the medical community, early on, we had a neurologist on the calls and Debbie Pyka has worked very closely with the medical community in getting brains to the researchers so they can discover the actual harm being caused. We discuss economic forces—talking about how to change the economy of things like the NFL which is a multi-billion dollar industry and thinking about what do we put in its place?
And then there’s the legal system. Mike Kasdan is a lawyer and one of the parents of a victim who was harmed by CTE is currently involved in a lawsuit. Let’s talk a little bit more about creating change through the legal system. This article appeared in Newsweek and it describes a lawsuit going on that alleges that Pop Warner—one of the biggest youth football groups in the country—didn’t protect kids from concussions and later CTE. And so there was a court ruling that is allowing this lawsuit to move forward. It had been stopped temporarily because of procedural issues. But, this ruling now says that it the lawsuit can continue and this is actually a big deal. Newsweek is saying that the Pop Warner CTE lawsuit could change youth sports.
I’ll just read a small part of the article in Newsweek: “A California judge will consider a lawsuit by two mothers who say brain injury is from youth football killed their sons. A case that could force the national Pop Warner program to pay up for not protecting the players and change the game forever. Judge Phillip Gutierrez in Los Angeles ruled last week that Kimberly Archie and Joe Cornell’s suit against Pop Warner’s Little Scholars can continue despite protestations by the 80 year old non-profit the New York Post reported Monday. Gutierrez said it’s possible that Pop Warner’s actions could have led to head injury and ultimately the disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Or CTE. In his decision, Gutierrez acknowledged that Pop Warner had said such injuries are standard risks when kids play football. But he noted that the moms are arguing that Pop Warner misrepresented that safety was a top priority. Bragging that it had coaches trained in head injuries, equipment that afforded the best protection and rules and procedures designed to protect kids from injury, all with the knowledge that none of this was true.”
Here is was what Mike Kasden had to say about this article:
“We’ve been focusing a lot on storytelling but it’s important to track the legal developments because as we’ve seen with tobacco and other industries, liability can cause change. This is really scary for youth football. Pop Warner is a nonprofit and probably couldn’t survive if they lost the legal team, including Erin Brockovich’s lawyers. The first lawsuit was dismissed on jurisdictional and procedural grounds. In what Mike thinks is a terrible opinion. The judge found that Pop Warner National didn’t exercise control over any local chapter. So the California chapter wasn’t liable. The case was also brought against the helmet safety standard group, NLCSE, also the case was dismissed against NLCSE. The judge allowed them to amend the complaint and change the pleadings. And now it survived against Pop Warner’s motion to dismiss and OCSE is still out. Surviving a motion to dismiss is a big deal because now the case will proceed discovery risk goes way up chances of getting to a jury goes way up. So it’s, it’s really, it’s a big thing that this was allowed to proceed regardless of what the ultimate outcome is.”
RSVP for Weekly Calls on The Disposability of Men
So I’d like to I’d like to open it up for discussion and anything that we have talked about so far. Any ideas what you think about the framework. What do you think are the implications? What do you think next steps might be? Any direction you want to take the conversation, let’s take it.
Carol: I don’t think it’s going stop Pop Warner.
Lisa: Well, what Michael’s saying is that because Pop Warner is a nonprofit—if there is a sizable judgment or Pop Warner may not be able to survive.
Carol: It won’t be able to pay the judgment. Right?
Lisa: Exactly. They won’t be able to pay. It’s similar to what happened in the media industry, where Gawker was a media company that had to go out of business because they were sued for printing a story about a sex tape about Hulk Hogan they couldn’t pay. The judgment was in the millions of dollars they couldn’t pay and they had to go bankrupt and dissolve the business. So. I’m not saying that’s what will happen in this case–just that it could.
And that’s where we get back into “do no harm”. The reason this lawsuit is happening is because two boys who played Pop Warner football died. After developing CTE. So there was real harm. The reason they died was attributed to CTE and the reason they got CTE could be attributed to playing Pop Warner football. On top of that, Pop Warner had messaging that led parents to believe that it was safer than it was.
Thaddeus: I see a pretty challenging case—I see that because of the nature of these people dying that there’s a possibility that there will be a huge sum of money involved. There will be challenges. And there will probably be appeals if Pop Warner has sufficient money. You know how it works. Big corporations have lots of money in the pockets and a willingness to drag it out in court forever basically forcing you to either give up out of desperation or because you run out of money or because you just get tired of fighting them because they can tie it up forever. And this is the nature of our judicial system. Very often money decides a case versus merit. And I suspect that unless they have a very dedicated attorney or group of attorneys who see that there’s a possibility of winning that this may die in court over an extended period. But it may still die in court just because that’s how these kind of things work.
Lisa: So I agree that that is a real possibility but I also think it opens the door for other lawsuits of this type to…
Thaddeus: Wait, that’s the thing. Because it opens the door to other lawsuits of this type it becomes. It’s critical for Pop Warner to win because if Pop Warner loses, it sets precedent and that’s the last thing they want. So I see Pop Warner taking this to court. I see Pop Warner having support. I see Pop Warner having unofficial backing and and capabilities being presented from all kinds of sources because the very last thing anybody wants is for this to go to court and become a precedent which then says CTE is real. We have no choice but to acknowledge it. And that all these people who play football are at risk. Yeah, that’s that’s not what anybody wants to happen.
Lisa: Well you can already see the narrative unfolding. How Pop Warner will make an impassioned appeal. You know, “don’t let them take football away from your sons.” Like “we have to save football.” You can just see them getting donations to the nonprofit which ultimately get used to pay legal fees in order to stay in football as we know it instead of in order to save lives…
Thaddeus: But maybe football as we know it needs to die.
Maybe it’s time for us to acknowledge that we cannot continue to put people in a position that puts them at risk. I mean why is it more important for us to have football than it is for us to have brains. Why are brains secondary to this idea of the human sacrifice necessary for us to have football. You know as if there is an acceptable number of dead people before football becomes a problem. How many people are an acceptable number of dead people before we say something? We’ve already decided that 60,000 dead people from opioid overdose isn’t enough for us to regulate that in any particular measure that we need to know of. You know they assume the regulations that exist are good enough but 60,000 people have died that’s more people than died in the Vietnam War and we still say “ahh, don’t worry about it.” It’ll work itself out. So the number of dead people isn’t good enough because we already know there’s plenty of dead folk out there and nobody is fixing anything. So what has to happen is we need a better story. We need a better way of presenting this. We need a better way of looking at this because until we can present a story that is clear, clean, cut, and dry. You don’t want this… We will continue to have this and the number of dead people irrelevant.
Carol: That’s true. And, in fact, the Congress, the DEA had all the authority it needed to put down the opioid manufacturers and distributors and Congress killed it and they wiped out the teeth in their ability to stop the crisis. So Congress okayed it and the drug manufacturers are getting wealthy…It’s about our elected officials being swayed by money and not by people.
Lisa: I also want to talk about the opioid crisis and why these people get addicted to opioids. People they wouldn’t necessarily expect to become drug addicts…in many cases it happens because there is a culture of masculinity. We’ve talked about how there is a cultural masculinity that perpetuate violence and heroism and stoicism in the man-box, and capitalism and greed and competition and all that…What happens is these young men grow up playing sports and it becomes a part of their identity and they get injured playing sports and they take painkillers to alleviate the sports-related injury. And they get addicted to those. And then that leads to them getting harder drugs getting and harder drugs when they can’t renew their prescription.
In the same way, the root cause of why we have an opioid crisis right now are all the same roots that we’re talking about with why we have a CTE crisis right now.
Thaddeus: Which is exactly why I brought it up because they do overlap strongly. That’s the same part of the country where football is Godlike and can do no wrong and if the thing they do on Friday or Saturday night with the entire town turns out and everything goes away ’till the football game ends. And we engage in a gladiatorial battle of awesomeness that wrecks the lives of our children. Shatters the lives of our parents and leaves everybody with psychological, physiological, long term injuries that they play through because they’re manly and heroic and in the end; they become addicted to these drugs to help them to help them deal with this pain that came about because they played football as young men and grow into this culture of pain. You know that’s what it is it’s a culture of pain that men basically learn to say well “I’m a manly man. I don’t acknowledge pain, I may experience it but I don’t acknowledge it. And these drugs will help take the edge off. And I’ll be fine. The End.”
Lisa: Exactly. It’s part of why there is also such an alcohol abuse problem that doesn’t get talked about, either. Men—women too, but often men have the worst of the problem, drink alcohol in order to cover up the emotional pain that they’re going through.It’s almost a given. “Oh I’m depressed. I’ll have a couple of drinks at work. I’ll have a martini when I get home.” There was a culture that people were brought up in that said alcohol is a great cure for your emotional pain. Drink up. And then that too causes things like suicide, depression, reckless behavior— all the same things that we’re seeing CTE causes—-alcohol, when it’s abused, causes those things, too.
So looking at the patterns in these systems of abuse that stem from the way we raise men and boys is really important. This is a tweet by Kimberly Archie responding to a headline in the Bangor Daily News that says: “Parents concussion fears keep more Maine kids off of football fields.” And Kimberly Archie tweeted out “Fixed it.” So she was talking about how she fixed the headline to say “Parents brain damage assessment keep more Maine kids off the football fields so they can use their brain later.” And that’s exactly what you were talking about, Thaddeus. Like, how do we change the narrative? How do we talk about it in a way so that if 60,000 deaths aren’t enough, what other narrative is out there? It’s why I keep getting back to this—it’s up to us to figure out what can replace football because thinking that football will go away and leave a vacuum and leave a hole that, it’s just not going to happen. But if we can create a culture where other things are valued, where other things become the “Friday Night Lights” where other things become Sunday afternoon, you know, being able to socialize in and be emotional and yell and scream, be joyous and have tears streaming down your face even though you’re a man — when we can think of things that replace it, that allow men to do and be all those things…that’s what we have to do.
Carol: Maybe it shouldn’t just be Sunday afternoon. Maybe we we also need to work on men being who they are.
Thaddeus: All the time.
Lisa: That’s very true. That is very true.
Thaddeus: The goal here is—we have to ask what is football doing. Why does it hold this particular place and is there another culture which has either no football — I mean other cultures don’t play football. You know one of the things is Americans are one of the few places where we play what’s called American football. Everywhere else they play soccer which is a relatively non-contact sport. Yeah there is an occasional bit of contact, but there is not the constant bashing of bodies. So everyone else in the world they play soccer. And as a result I suspect that there is a lot less CTE in soccer than there is in football. Maybe we need to join the rest of the world in playing soccer. Or another alternative. What if we had robot contests. There used to be some TV shows like — called “Robot Wars” and it showed a group of kids, anywhere from 10 to 20 who build robots, put them out in the arena let the robots fight…
And at the end the victor went to spoils and the battle was over — but people got excited the kids got a chance to deal with their intellectual urges by using a robot. They got to deal with their visceral urge for combat. And yet at the end of it nobody but robots got hurt. And until robots become sentient, in which case we’ll probably have a different question then, until that happens we can engage in Robot combat without having any feelings toward the idea that, oh my god, someone’s going to pay for this particular thing at some point later in their lives. Which is what we say right now when we look at CTE and football. Football says we’re sacrificing somebody, somewhen in the future and it might not just be one somebody maybe dozens of somebodies and we’re saying that this is an acceptable price for us to enjoy the game of football as we know it.
But is it really an acceptable price or is it just one that the owners of these teams does doesn’t have to pay? If you’re the owner of a team you’re not paying this price. You’re saying “You. Go out here and play this game. And if you get hurt that’s your problem because I’m not going to let you sue me and I paid you millions of dollars for the value of abusing you.” And so that should make it OK. It doesn’t, but that’s how it’s presented. When anyone says well, they’re getting paid millions I’m going: they’re not getting paid enough. If you’re paying me to lose capacity in the future you’re paying me to lose my brain, you’re pay me lose my body, you’re paying me to lose what makes me an individual: the seat of my intellect. You’re paying me to lose that they have to pay me ten times as much — the best paid football player right now doesn’t get paid enough to lose the seat of his intellect. But we have denigrated intelligence; we have told people that having a brain isn’t necessary. Isn’t useful. It is more important to be heroically physical than it is to be heroically mental. However, our entire existence is based on our mental capacity. So I’ve often wondered which one of us is dumber. Many people think that’s a matter for the people who understand that all of what we have as a civilization comes from our intellectual capacity, not just our physical one.
Carol: All of the Nerd movies are about that right?
Thaddeus: The argument of every nerd movie ever—while jocks are thinking about sports Nerds are just thinking about everything else.
Carol: That’s right.
Thaddeus: And jocks don’t make society. As quiet as it’s kept, sports do not create anything. I’ve written this I don’t know how many times I can say it: “when a football game ends, its value to the world has ended.” A scientist’s learning though—that scientist may affect our civilization as we know it for millennia.
Carol: Absolutely. I just think that we need to figure out how to get more than three of us or the four of us, to change the world here. Or the American world.
Thaddeus: There are other games. Look I play a whole other football variation called Ultimate Frisbee. Looks just like football except there is no serious physical contact. Everybody gets to throw the Frisbee, everybody gets to catch the Frisbee. It’s incredibly fast. It’s brutal physically, it is a brutal demanding sport because you’re pretty much on the move from the moment the Frisbee goes into play until the moment it stops. And when it stops you catch your breath and then you’re right back in the action. It’s fun. It’s fast. Go look it up. You can you can look it up online called Ultimate Frisbee. Ultimate Frisbee could replace football you could have whole teams of it. You know you could make variations. Maybe you can have two Frisbees on the field versus one, that means the game can move in two different directions simultaneously. There’s any there’s any number of variations. You could do this it.
It isn’t impossible. We simply don’t want it because what we’re catering to is the lowest common denominator: the brutality of our society. We have a society that is suppressed, it is repressed, it is angry– it is suffering. And they used the brutality of football as an escape valve to let off the emotional repression. I suspect that if we were to make football vanish tomorrow, I think society will become more violent, not less. Because football is how we let off all the anger and frustration that we dare not say at our jobs—our bosses pay us too little, our bosses treat us really badly and think that it’s OK — because I have been in places where a boss will look at you and go “you know you’re expendable and I could replace you tomorrow.” That’s a terrible thing to say to anyone but bosses today don’t feel any problem with saying it. That’s what football saves bosses from. It saves them from getting punched in the mouth for being rude and uncivilized and having no manners. Because he’ll go home and watch football and he’ll let out his frustration and be like yeah I feel better. But really you’re not better, you just let off the escape valve and you going to go back to work and suffer the abuses of your terrible boss again tomorrow. And I think that if we look at what football does for people and question it better maybe we can understand how to replace it with something more meaningful, something more significant, something that actually helps people feel better about themselves versus just letting them let off their frustration ’cause we know we’re not going to treat people better — we already know that.
Society isn’t going to treat you better because you want them to. We already know that. So what are our other choices? And that’s what we need to be addressing.
Carol: This is the intersection of patriarchy also. It’s what the structure of corporate structure is built on. If we could figure out the the alternate to that, that starts addressing systemically all the way down to how do people let off steam — they wouldn’t need to because we wouldn’t be oppressed all week. So that one three hour day is the only time we can let it out.
Lisa: Thaddeus, I think you said is not possible to have a society that treats you better. But as you were talking, I was thinking — really the solution is to get rid of an abusive society—get rid of abuse across a variety of places and to make abuse itself not acceptable. To make abuse in the workplace not acceptable, abuse in the home not acceptable, abuse on the football field not unacceptable, abuse against women not acceptable. I know that’s what we’re working on in a lot of different places.
Carol: Abuse comes with entitlement, that’s why it’s all back to the patriarchy model that we follow. You abuse power or you don’t have power and you’re abusing to get power.
Thaddeus: Well at some point someone’s allowing you to abuse. Either you have so much money and power and you’re like Weinstein and you’re going to say: “You know what, you do what I say or you’ll never work in this town again,” and have the wherewithal to actually mean that and follow through on it and no one would dare say anything to you because they know you have the power.
Take the old axiom that the only person who can change the world is a man with nothing to lose. In this case, a woman with nothing to lose. If a woman decided: “You know what. I’ll never work in this town again but it’ll be worth it to get rid of you.” Oh well, now we have a game. Now we have something that we can talk about because the person who has nothing to lose — will absolutely take that risk to get rid of you. And that’s what we need to fix. We need to fix that part of our society. We need to make it so that when those people abuse, everyone stands up and says “no more”. That’s the only way abusers get caught and gotten rid of. The only reason the police are now, you know, actually having to walk around with body cameras on, not that it’s changing anything as far as we can tell, but the idea that they are at least being watched means that their more egregious sins — they’re being documented. And sooner or later it will set a precedent that will make a difference…
Carol: If the camera’s working cause you know some of the cameras just don’t work, right?
Thaddeus: Yeah I know I’m working on one of those articles right now. The idea that someone said body cameras don’t change how police behave. I disagree. I assume if they’re on, if they work, if the judicial system isn’t being tampered with and undermining their effectiveness. They work just fine. But the problem is so often there are basically things being done to allow these officers to escape. And if you’re allowing them to escape and of course they don’t work if you don’t force them to bring their camera — footage to the crime scene or to the court. Then of course they don’t work. No, body cameras work when they’re used, right now our judicial system is corrupt corrupted our police system. So any time you go to trial and they say well we didn’t allow this body camera work first thing I have to ask you is: how corrupt is that courtroom?
Lisa: By the way, did somebody else join the call? I thought I heard someone else come on a while ago…
Bob Rannigan: Caught again. This is Bob Rannigan.
Lisa: You’re here! Well I didn’t want you to not be able to get a word in edgewise. So, I just want to stop for a minute — and let you talk if you like.
Bob: No. I’m content.
Carol: I would like you to talk because I did not do a good job describing your article. I would like you to talk about your article on violence and the violent numbness thing that we teach boys through football. Where you have to go out and be violent and then you have to come back to your seat and forget it. Could you speak to that and clarify that?
Bob: I think that Thaddeus captured it pretty accurately and passionately.To me, it’s an automatic conditioning. It’s kind of like Clockwork Orange in reverse, where you get punished and rewarded and so it comes down to this same thing about emotions. I played the game because I was afraid to be humiliated, by not by showing I was afraid, so fear of fear drove me to rage. And maybe that’s what you’re asking.
Carol: That’s not all. Boys are asked to play football, in other words, they leave the sideline and they’re told go out and kill them. So, they’re on the field and they hurt somebody. And when they walk back to the sidelines they’re expected to forget it and go on to the next play. So it’s you know it’s rage and forget rage and forget right. Did I not — I read that, right? You wrote that.
Bob: Yeah but I think you’ve updated it and made it more succinct that I. And then I took it home, and after football you know, I would say to this day 40, 50 years later, the conditioning is still there. That instilled rage, instant rage, put it away instant rage. So yeah, that’s that’s exactly it.
Carol: That’s really powerful… I thought because I have a grandson who’s going to be learning that right now It’s killing me. We can’t do anything about it but it’s killing me and if we’re teaching young men to do that, in football, and we’re teaching are we teaching any athlete that has to go out and kill someone in a game to win it, it’s the same thing.
Bob: So I have a story from this week that’s small, but it’s directly related to me learning about CTE through you all. I mean I lived it but I didn’t know the language or all this measuring that was going on. So anyway, this woman I used to teach said she has a son whose depressed. Would you see him? And so he’s 16, he comes in and I said What do you know about your depression? When did you know — when do you remember first dealing with it? And he said — I know when it was two years ago I got a concussion. I said how and he said playing football and then I got one the next year, too. And it wasn’t as quickly and succinctly as I’m saying it. But this kid knew that something happened to him. And so anyway he tracked it and his mom was sort of on the ball about it his father has said if you want to play you can you don’t have to. But I was able to say to them I would go over to the high school and tell them that you’re taking him off the team. And if the kid wants to continue playing that I would threaten them with the lawsuit. So anyway thank you all for helping me get that clear about it, because I think a year ago I would have said well I wouldn’t play but it wasn’t as clear to me that there was a death sentence involved for a certain percentage of kids playing…
Carol: You may have saved his life.
Bob: And so that’s what I hear Thaddeus talking about. We’re trying to eat a whole elephant here. You know little ants on an elephant. And what do you do with that little piece? To me it was really a validating of the work.
Lisa: That just made my stomach sink when you talked about how that kid actually realized that his depression had started after he gotten a concussion playing football. We’re telling the worst stories here—the stories where we know that people have died and we can trace it back to CTE. We’re not yet telling those other smaller stories about the 16 year old who is depressed and making the connection that it came from a concussion. I was shaken up by that.
Bob: Actually it was it was a surprise to him and to his mother who is a very smart, sharp woman. She was really surprised. So here’s to spreading the word. I think we’re so versed with CTE, you all much more than I, it needs to keep spreading.
Lisa: Yes, I completely agree and I also think that what happens in teenagers in particular is that they’re already going through changes. There’s already there’s mood swings, already, you know, the pressure on them to grow up really quickly, to be a man, there’s already experimenting with drugs, with reckless behavior. So — so all of those things get compounded. So when you layer in head injuries from football on top of all the stuff that’s already going on it’s really scary. It’s really frightening to think about.
Carol: I think you gave him permission to quit. And all that he needed to know.
Bob: Well, he kind of smiled at that and I told him that I didn’t let my boys play. If you were my son you would have to kill me to get then back on the football field. So that’s kind of smack talk but he laughed.
Carol: Yeah. Which means they didn’t give him enough time off after his concussion, it takes a year, year and a half to get rid of a concussion?
Bob: Yeah. Well they turned him into into a punter. They had enough sense to at least not let him be out there. But then I said and how has that going and he said at last week’s game, he had a bad snap, chased the ball down and a guy tackled him and his head hit the ground. If you’ve played the game that’s the hardest surface there is. So he got another another dose of it. And so — I just want to listen to you guys because I feel like I’m learning so much. Including the frustration of it all..
Lisa: I was thinking as we were talking about movies and cultural tropes—there’s this idea of the dumb jock, right? So it’s a guy who’s really physically fit, with a great body. They often have classic handsome features. But literally in my high school, the “dumb jock” was a thing. It’s almost as if their brains get devalued right then. There is no reason why somebody can’t be smart and play football but maybe the really smart people don’t. But it’s like you’re saying “you’re already dumb” so like that is the message this cultural stereotype is sending. Don’t even bother worrying about your brain. You’re just a dumb jock, anyway.
Carol: Now, that’s a nice message.
Lisa: It’s not my message. That the message that gets out there in movie stereotypes…
Thaddeus: Here’s the trick ladies and gentlemen, the trick is once upon a time you could sell it as just a jock or just a model and say you know your body is enough. Your brain isn’t actually part of your body. So you could sell this “its just your body’ thing. It’s a thing that’s going to give you the renown you’re looking for. So you don’t need a brain but then we realize that if we could sell people on that who were involved in it, we could sell that to damn near everybody.
So then it became an entire anti-intellectual culture and anti-intellectual perspective.
The message is…the brain is vastly overrated. You don’t really need one. What we need is people willing to DO a thing. People who are go getters people who will get the job done. They don’t ever mention brains and never mentioned intelligence they don’t mention Smart. As a matter of fact, we downplay intellectuals and call them effete and say that it’s a intellectualism is what’s wrong with America and what we need are more people doing the job. So by undermining and underselling the value of brain power what it allows us to do was to make an entire nation of vulnerable people who would not choose to excel, who would not choose to promote their brain. However the curious part of this is that people who promote this message are still sending their kids to college; the people who promote this viewpoint are still making sure their kids get the best education money can buy. So what you should look at that in that moment in realize, it is a hypocrisy designed to bifurcate society to allow a tiny fragment of people who know the truth, which is brain power matters, to take advantage of a whole bunch of people who do not know the truth and have bought into the rhetoric of you don’t need your brain it’s just some place you keep in your head, it keeps your head warm and that’s how we treat it. And as a result now we have a society that is unprepared for the dynamic changes that are taking place right now in the world where we need more people than ever to be thinking outside the box. We have fewer people than ever thinking outside the box because they simply don’t realize there’s a box and that’s not enough anymore.
Carol: That’s what Betsy DeVos is for, she’s to keep us that way.
Thaddeus: And she intends to keep it that way for another generation at least.
Carol: Exactly. They are doing exactly what they want.
Thaddeus: They are doing exactly what they need to maintain their power. They need people to be undereducated.
They need people to have a limited amount of intellectual capacity. They’ve concentrated this intellectual capacity into large corporations. Facebook, Google, all of these technology companies—they’re all filled with young white people who bought into the idea that education was important. Got an education at the finest universities possible and now they are defining where society goes. They’re defining what questions get asked and answered. And the truth of the matter is most of the time the things that are being asked and answered have no bearing on the fate of the world as we know it. The things we need to be fixed. Those young people aren’t skilled enough to ask or answer. And the workforce is now younger and younger and constantly being reduced in age till the only people who have jobs are people who will do what they’re told when money shows up. So when the money shows up they said we want this and those young people go OK well we don’t know why we should do that. But if you have money we’ll do this and this is why the world is turning into what it is. Because most of the people who are in charge of it have been trained to follow orders. They aren’t trained to think for themselves. They aren’t adaptable, they aren’t creative. And as a result they’re basically creating the world that more intelligent, crafty, sinister, people demand.
Carol: They’ve taken away a whole generation or two of knowledge of the past. That’s actually what Trump is doing too well, erasing the past, that has so that we can redefine the Future for most people who don’t know what (the past was) anyway.They go forward with the Brave New World kind of crap…
Thaddeus: And sports…sports are a great way of keeping the intellectually-challenged amused. You know, what’s it called? Bread and circuses. Yes that’s what’s bred bread circuses.
Lisa: We’re out of time. Thank you all. Please join us next week. Calls are every TUESDAY evening: 9 pm EST / 6 pm PST.
RSVP for Weekly Calls on The Disposability of Men
What Next? Talk with others. Take action.
We are proud of our SOCIAL INTEREST GROUPS—WEEKLY PHONE CALLS to discuss, gain insights, build communities— and help solve some of the most difficult challenges the world has today. Calls are for Members Only (although you can join the first call for free). Not yet a member of The Good Men Project? Join now!
Join The Good Men Project Community
All levels get to view The Good Men Project site AD_FREE. The $50 Platinum Level is an ALL-ACCESS PASS—join as many groups and classes as you want for the entire year. The $25 Gold Level gives you access to any ONE Social Interest Group and ONE Class–and other benefits listed below the form. Or…for $12, join as a Bronze Member and support our mission, and have a great ad-free viewing experience.
Register New Account
Please note: If you are already a writer/contributor at The Good Men Project, log in here before registering. (Request new password if needed).
ANNUAL PLATINUM membership ($50 per year) includes:
1. AN ALL ACCESS PASS — Join ANY and ALL of our weekly calls, Social Interest Groups, classes, workshops and private Facebook groups. We have at least one group phone call or online class every day of the week.
2. See the website with no ads when logged in!
3. PLATINUM MEMBER commenting badge and listing on our “Friends of The Good Men Project” page.
ANNUAL GOLD membership ($25 per year) includes all the benefits above — but only ONE Weekly Social Interest Group and ONE class.
ANNUAL BRONZE membership ($12 per year) is great if you are not ready to join the full conversation but want to support our mission anyway. You’ll still get a BRONZE commenting badge, a listing on our Friends page, and you can pop into any of our weekly Friday Calls with the Publisher when you have time. This is for people who believe—like we do—that this conversation about men and changing roles and goodness in the 21st century is one of the most important conversations you can have today.
We have pioneered the largest worldwide conversation about what it means to be a good man in the 21st century. Your support of our work is inspiring and invaluable.
“Here’s the thing about The Good Men Project. We are trying to create big, sweeping, societal changes—–overturn stereotypes, eliminate racism, sexism, homophobia, be a positive force for good for things like education reform and the environment. And we’re also giving individuals the tools they need to make individual change—-with their own relationships, with the way they parent, with their ability to be more conscious, more mindful, and more insightful. For some people, that could get overwhelming. But for those of us here at The Good Men Project, it is not overwhelming. It is simply something we do—–every day. We do it with teamwork, with compassion, with an understanding of systems and how they work, and with shared insights from a diversity of viewpoints.” —– Lisa Hickey, Publisher of The Good Men Project and CEO of Good Men Media Inc.