So, here's a common refrain down in the comments of these Sunday punch-bowl poop posts: DURR THEY GOT CONCUSSIONS IN SOCCER TOO Y'ALL DURR DON'T THAT MAKE Y'ALL A BUNCHA HYPOCRITES DURR.
Let's get the most obvious part of this out of the way: Yes, there are concussions in soccer. There are concussions in basketball, too, and baseball, and lacrosse, and in hilariously slipping on a banana peel at the top of the world's tallest spiral staircase. No one would suggest we get rid of those things, especially the banana peel part. Man, that never gets old. So why football?
Well, I could start by stating the obvious, here, and so I will: Football, as a sport, requires violent physical contact as a mechanical component of the game. This is not true of soccer. Soccer requires kicking a ball into a goal. Football requires bodily tackling the ball-carrier. But, to really highlight the lame stupidity of the SOCCER GOTS BRAIN DINGERS TOO argument, let's look at the NFL's own data on the subject:
According to this report, commissioned by the NFL and released near the beginning of last season, football's rate of concussions per 10,000 athletic exposures is more than double that of soccer among high school boys (the report also concludes that there is no evidence that "improved" helmet technology prevents brain injury). Other reports indicate that nearly half of all reported sports concussions occur in high school football, which is made all the more appalling by the fact that football—popular as it is—accounts for less than a seventh of total high school sports participation.
This will be where you jump in and say BORK BORK WE AIN'T TALKIN' ABOUT NO HIGH SCHOOL KIDS BORK BORK THEM BOYS IS PRO-FESSIONALS 'N THEY GIT PAID A PRETTY PENNY TER MUCK UP THEIR BRAINS BORKY BORK. Which, yes, they are paid to play. And if a group of grown men want to get together in a field somewhere and smash their heads together as a display of athletic dominance, so be it. What I can't figure out is this: What part of their decision and their income makes it morally acceptable for you to stand next to that field and encourage the brutality? And where do you think the money comes from? It's not some pirate treasure; it wasn't found at the end of a rainbow—it's your money! You pay the money; someone else puts the game on television; and millions of kids watch them play and then run out to a field and smash their heads together. Who is paying them?
And then there's the fact that you can't just walk down to the NFL recruiting office and apply for a job as the Giants' running back—in order to make it to the NFL, you have to first not be paid a lot of money to blow up and ruin your brain. Before those guys were out there being paid millions of dollars to play football, they were kids who demonstrated a particular prowess at ramming their head into other kids.
We can't eliminate everything that might result in horrible injury; it's just not possible. But football is not soccer—football is not a sport where violence sometimes happens around the basic structure of the game. Football is violence; it's being funded by you; and its popularity ensures that there will be literally millions of brain injuries among high school kids every year.
Knock it off! Watch this stuff instead.
Noon — ESPN2 — NCAA Men's Basketball: (7) Texas @ (24) UConn
We've reached the part of the year when it gets pretty easy to ignore the NFL. The NBA season is in full swing, there's plenty of soccer, and we're finally starting to see quality college basketball match-ups. This is the first of two games featuring ranked opponents today.
12:55 p.m. — beIN Sports Español — La Liga Soccer: Cordoba vs. Villareal
Let's be honest, here: If you're watching La Liga soccer today, you're not watching this fixture...
12:55 p.m. — beIN Sports — La Liga Soccer: Valencia vs. Barcelona
You're watching this one. Barcelona are hot on the tail of Real Madrid at the top of the table, with Valencia only a few points off. This should be a blast.
1 p.m. — ESPN — NCAA Men's Basketball: (11) Kansas @ (20) Michigan State
Yes, the NCAA is full of shit, but at least college basketball doesn't churn its amateur participants through a fucking meat grinder like college football.
3 p.m. — NBA League Pass — NBA Basketball: Bulls @ Nets
The Bulls are underperforming somewhat against expectations, but the Nets are wildly underperforming. They very nearly lost to the Sixers last week, and they urgently need to get their shit together. Brooklyn has the talent, on paper, to contend for a top four seed in the Eastern Conference.
6 p.m. — NBA League Pass — NBA Basketball: Grizzlies @ Kings
Hey now! Marc Gasol and DeMarcus Cousins are head and shoulders beyond the field in any discussion of Most Valuable Player. Gasol has been a revelation on offense, while Boogie's two-way play has hidden and otherwise overcome the significant limitations of Sacramento's roster. And they're going head to head! This is the thing to watch on Sunday.
9:20 p.m. — ESPN — MLS Soccer: Seattle vs. LA Galaxy
The second leg of the Western Conference Championship. The Galaxy are up a goal in the aggregate but will need to overcome Seattle's renowned home advantage.
9:30 p.m. — NBA League Pass — NBA Basketball: Raptors @ Lakers
The Lakers dropped a game last night in excruciating fashion, losing a 5 point lead inside the final minute at home and falling by a point to the lowly and Ricky Rubio-less Minnesota Timberwolves. I have absolutely nothing against the Lakers, but at least for now I'm a happier person when they're losing. It's fun! And the Raptors are so, so much better than the Lakers. This could be a bloodbath.
1 p.m. — E! — Sex and the City
Oh shut up. There are worse things. If you're desperate and, I don't know, strapped to a chair in front of a television, and, say, all the other channels have been blocked by an enraged and vindictive spouse, this will get you through the early afternoon games. And Kim Cattrall is funny! There, I admit it. Kim Cattrall is funny.
1 p.m. — USA — Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Good old cross-eyed Christopher Meloni. SVU is on all day, if that's your thing.
1 p.m. — We TV — Roseanne
Roseanne was once one of the two or three best things on television. Here's a mini-marathon to get you through the 1 p.m. games.
2 p.m. — AMC — The Walking Dead
AMC is breaking out the day-long marathon leading up to the 9 p.m. mid-season finale. WILL THEY KILL CARL ALREADY.
2 p.m. — LOGO TV — The Golden Girls
The Golden Girls, ranked:
5 p.m. — FXX — The Simpsons
Today's episodes include Bart Gets Hit by a Car and Marge vs. the Monorail.
11:30 a.m. — AMC — Ghostbusters II
A pretty good sequel, as sequels go. Vigo the Carpathian is a solid villain and Peter MacNicol is fairly adorable as his nerdy little acolyte.
11:35 a.m. — Comedy Central — Major League
Charlie Sheen apparently took steroids to beef up for his role in this movie, and took heroin, crack, crank, quaaludes, PCP, MDMA, hash oil, peyote, adrenochrome, salvia, ether, bull testosterone, Viagra, and Flintstones multivitamins for his cataracts.
12:30 p.m. —- Spike — Raiders of the Lost Ark
Spike has all the Indiana Jones movies running sequentially today. This is the first and best.
1 p.m. — SyFy — Terminator 2: Judgment Day
I tried to watch this fairly recently and found Edward Furlong completely intolerable.
1 p.m. — TNT — War of the Worlds
Not so bad! Not very bad at all. The early scenes of the attack are terrifying and the movie just sort of stumbles along on the edge of cinematic disaster from there. The closest it gets to untracked is when it introduces Tim Robbins' character.
1 p.m. — IFC — Reservoir Dogs
Well done, IFC.
1:15 p.m. — TBS — Home Alone
Interestingly, the only two adults in this movie who aren't irredeemable pieces of shit are the menacing bearded hobo-looking neighbor and the goober polka band frontman.
1:30 p.m. — BBC America — Goldfinger
There's a Bond marathon on BBC America today, guys.
1:30 p.m. — BET — Ray
This movie begs the question: Is there a difference between acting the Ray Charles character and doing a Ray Charles impersonation? Jamie Foxx's performance struck me as the latter.
1:40 p.m. — Disney Channel West — The Nightmare Before Christmas
I suspect we'll be seeing a lot of this movie over the next few weeks.
2 p.m. — CMT — Twister
Terrible! It's amazing how many careers actually survived this thing. Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt and (especially) Philip Seymour Hoffman all came out with their careers basically intact and went on to bigger and better things. Director Jan De Bont really paid the biggest price, career-wise: his directorial debut, Speed, was a box office hit, but after the critical flop of Twister it's been a massive slide into obscurity, highlighted by the horrific train-wreck that was his remake of The Haunting.
3 p.m. — VH-1 Classic — Caddyshack
Rodney Dangerfield is annoying as hell. Other than that, hell yes.
3:15 p.m. — Spike — Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
If you make it through Kate Capshaw's really annoying moments, she's got a handful of funny, redeeming moments in there. And Mola Ram is scary as hell.
3:30 p.m. — TNT — I, Robot
The first of Will Smith's two flailing mistreatments of genre fiction classics, but where I Am Legend is basically a solid, watchable movie despite running roughshod over its source material, this thing is stupid and preposterous, pretty much from start to finish. I realize that's not much of an endorsement.
4 p.m. — SyFy — 30 Days of Night
Pretty spooky! Poorly acted and unspectacular, but a tidy, effective, respectable movie, worth checking out.
4 p.m. — BBC America — You Only Live Twice
BBC America's Bond marathon rolls on into the late afternoon.
4:30 p.m. — Ovation — Bram Stoker's Dracula
Seriously, whatever merits this movie might have, it is, without a doubt, one of the most poorly cast movies of all time. Winona Ryder, Cary Elwes, and Billy Campbell are awful, but Keanu Reeves, guys, Keanu Reeves is dreadful. What the hell was going on there? Francis Ford Coppola was trolling audiences with these casting choices, I swear.
5:30 p.m. — VH-1 Classic — Dazed and Confused
Meh. I remain completely unmoved by this crowd pleaser.
6 p.m. — REELZ — Bloodsport
Hey, you're either watching a bloodsport or watching Bloodsport.
6:12 p.m. — Spike — Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
The last of the worth-a-damn Indiana Jones flicks, although if you're interested you can stick around Spike afterward and catch that 2008 abomination.
6:30 p.m. — BBC America — From Russia with Love
Yes, that's right, more Bond. Robert Shaw shows up as a scary SPECTRE henchman who gets stabbed and garroted to death by the, umm, hero.
7:30 p.m. — TVGN — Tootsie
Smart and funny and well-acted, if something like this were made today, it would be, well, it would be even worse than Mrs. Doubtfire. Yes, I'm becoming a crotchety old person.
8 p.m. — Ovation — Death Becomes Her
This movie is mostly a mess, but it's got some funny special effects gags and physical comedy, and fairly hilarious performances from Meryl Streep and Bruce Willis.
8 p.m. — WGN — Casino Royale
WGN is getting in on the Bond action with the best of the Daniel Craig bond movies.
Looks like decent weather for most of us today. Maybe instead of watching brutal, violent, exploitative professional football, you could go out back and, you know, throw the football around. 'Tis the season, anyway.