I’m reacquainting myself with Dr. Thompson’s later work—specifically Hey Rube—and remembering that he was just as prescient, incisive and bloody brilliant when writing about sports as he was in his political material. He saw the road ahead for cultural trends, politics, sports and the post-9/11 world (more on that later). In writing on pro football:
There are too many teams and not enough quality players. The League is destroying quarterbacks faster than colleges can churn them out. Every pro team must have two quarterbacks, because one of them is certain to get crippled or mashed by some steroid-crazed monster who weighs 388 pounds and runs faster than Deion Sanders and is desperate to hurt people. He will lose his job if he doesn’t, and his obvious target is the quarterback…
…The next MVP of the Super Bowl is just as likely to have been a full-time grocery store bagger last year as a Heisman Trophy winner. The teams change names & locations each year. Even winning coaches go crazy with angst or get fired on the whim of a new owner. Players come & go like substitute teachers or half-bright fashion models. Some beat their wives in public, and others get arrested for Murder. But the games go on like clockwork and the money keeps pouring in… Most stadiums are sold out every Sunday. But only rich people can afford to attend the games in person. It’s not much different from getting involved in National Politics.
He wrote that in 2000 and, fourteen years down the road, it’s only become truer and uglier. I can imagine what he’d have made of CTE.
The column he wrote on September 12, 2001 was goddam oracular in its prediction of the rise of the National Security State and the condition of Permanent War in which we find ourselves.
But enough of that for now. Reading on….