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Football games are not mandatory | defector

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For reasons beyond reason, the National Football League is still grappling with the dilemma of fitting the Buffalo-Cincinnati game into a schedule relentless of its past schedules. That’s fine, I suppose, for those in the league office who need a lot of work to fit this dodecahedron to a trapezoid-shaped peg, but what we’re not hearing is the scream from people outside Roger’s workshop that they want the game to be restored.

That’s because there aren’t any. For a nation that sells us craves football in all its forms, there seems to be little interest in this 272nd important but not important game. With Damar Hamlin still needing some help breathing, the lack of concern over a game that may, but may not, determine the top seed in the Football Conference is pervasive.

In short, America spoke without speaking. They don’t need this game to round out their watching pleasure, and even schedule completionists who have watched the league strap itself into psilocybin pretzels to complete the 2020 COVID schedule show no measurable interest in squeezing this landmark matchup into what the Brits like to call an overcrowded game list.

So a simple solution that appeals to everyone because it doesn’t offend anyone is to simply call it a non-game. Buffalo and Cincinnati will play one game less than everyone else, Buffalo will bow out, and Cincinnati will simply have to deal with the scheduling inequality knowing it wasn’t caused by anything other than an unforeseen tragedy that’s still unfolding. Only the most gruesome of ghouls would begin any sentence with, “Well, if Hamlin hadn’t been hurt…” and while we know these ghouls exist, we can muster the strength to ignore them or, if we need to interact, mock them. for having evacuated their souls to a chamber pot in a stadium parking lot.

It might worry the NFL’s all-time high that a single game has become less than nationally vital, but they’ll get over it the way they happily scrapped games during any of their many lockouts. These games were declared fully fungible based simply on contract negotiations that management was winning anyway, so it’s not like the games are gifts from heaven that can’t be rejected. Even this game, which would only decide which team doesn’t play in two weeks, is easily discarded given the dire circumstances.

Even more, no one is harmed by not being touched. Cincinnati coach Zac Taylor, who has more reason to want the game played, looked suitably and nobly disinterested on Monday night, inserting his humanity where his hyper-competitiveness would normally be found. Bengals owner Mike Brown already has the ticket money, the parking money, a good chunk of the concession money, so he’s not hurt, although his reputation as the cheapest of skates is well spent. ESPN, which struggled to air the game and garnered more attention from a nation of onlookers than it would have if the game had been just one game, may feel a pinch but may fight the league for a discount. It’s none of our business. The league can invent a Celebrity Pro Bowl and give the network that if they complain about it.

You see, the show must not necessarily go on (something the NCAA is keen to find out, suggesting that its basketball tournament is not four teams too big, but 22 teams too small, an idea hailed by all humans everywhere as stupid with a side of repellent). We love our entertainments, but there is a third rail to even our obsessions, and Damar Hamlin on a fan seems like a good place to put it.

But here’s an idea. Since the players and coaches were the ones who decided they would not continue Monday under any circumstances and told the messengers so with their five-minute warm-up note – one of many examples of principles displayed in Cincinnati that night – why not ask them what they want to do? They don’t even need to be asked about the logistics of locking out two games next weekend, or cutting the Super Bowl bye week, or whatever other stupid thing the league pays its team drones to set up and tweak. Just “Do you want to do this or not? Your vote counts, and only your vote.”

If they say yes then yes it should be. And if they say no, no, that should be it too. After all, they showed what players together can do in the face of an indignity, just as the Milwaukee Bucks did when they opted not to play Game 5 of their playoff series against Orlando on the bubble after the Jacob Blake shot and the NBA followed. the example by postponing other games in recognition of Milwaukee’s position. WNBA players have made a number of equivalent positions in their roles as the main bearers of conscience in the sport. This is player empowerment in a way that an extra year of free agency is not.

In short, instead of waiting for the NFL to decide, or even asking the league what its plans are, let’s let the players decide. It’s their game and their lives, a statement once considered tedious and trite but now all too real.