Only the parents of boys are welcome in the discussion of whether it's unsafe to let children play football. So says Mike Florio, a collectible commemorative helmet-phone in the employ of NBC Sports, who's mad at Brett Favre for expressing reservations about whether he'd encourage his non-existent son to play the game.
A few distinct strains of stupid run through Florio's argument. The first is the notion that, in the discussion of whether parents should encourage sons to play football, experience with sons is more germane than experience with football—that Brett Favre, who has played more organized football than all but maybe a handful of other human beings in history, is unqualified to speak on the wisdom of letting one's son play it, simply because neither of his children has testicles.
The thinking (ha, thinking, good one) here seems to be that parents of sons are uniquely situated to weigh the risk-versus-reward balance of playing football as opposed to other popular and allegedly just as dangerous boyhood activities, such as riding a bicycle, going skiing, and, uh, "lingering on a baseball field a little bit longer than advisable with a thunderstorm approaching." This is a familiar variety of intellectual dishonesty—even Florio knows full well the difference between the incidental risk-taking of riding a bicycle and the active risk-taking of willfully causing and absorbing thousands of subconcussive blows to the head—and really, it's too rote and boring for consideration.
No, the good shit comes further along, when Florio explains why it's important for people who don't have sons to keep their yaps shut about football:
Regardless, folks who don't have sons who are asked about whether they'd let their sons play football should think about choosing their words a bit more carefully and pragmatically, especially since those who have harvested the words will be tempted to blow them up into some broader indictment on the sport and/or to provide ammunition for mothers who would bubble wrap their baby boy and put him on a mantle. (But not so high that he might fall off it.)
For my money, the most amazing thing about this bit of ludicrous misogyny isn't its existence—"Guy whose entire life revolves around the NFL has issues with women" isn't exactly breaking news, y'know?—but that Florio evidently felt no need to explain it at all. It just hangs there—"Bitches, amirite?"—as if it's well understood out here in the world that concerns about the safety of football are a construct of helicoptering soccer moms hellbent upon the pussification of America.
Not for nothing, but this undermines his earlier argument against Favre. If having a son is what qualifies one to participate in the letting-our-sons-play-football conversation, then these helicoptering soccer moms sure as hell don't need validation from Brett Favre to issue a ruling on the matter. They had sons in their internal organs. Beat that, Mike Florio! Have you ever literally pooped out a boy or however that works?
This cluelessness could engender a kind of pity for Florio, a sense of the dimensions and insulation of his cloister in the deeper recesses of Roger Goodell's rectum, if there were any chance he actually believes this utter, utter nonsense. He doesn't. He knows his argument needn't function as coherent thought, so long as it functions as a rhetorical division between Real Men Who Love Foopaw on the one side and Emasculating Harpies on the other—so long as you come away from it with the idea that you're either in favor of letting Real Men make Real Decisions about their Real Sons, or you're a handwringing ninny handing out participation trophies at the Getting Along With Each Other Olympics. It's performative argument, persuasion for the persuaded: Florio goes "Real men football fathers and sons manliness discipline durr!" and his readers go "Ayup," and everybody gets on with their day.
Very well then! Good talk.