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Every intellectual who loves football has faced a moment like it.
Suppose you are out tonight at some sort of highbrow cultural event—a gallery opening, a book signing. Maybe even hanging around the local boho-friendly coffee shop. You may mention that the Monday Night Football regular season premier is tonight and kicks off with an unprecedented and absurd doubleheader. And suddenly, you might find yourself chatting with a person who doesn't like football. Not someone who merely ignores the sport, but truly believes that the game is a malevolent force in American life.
Most often, they will only be snobs—mere cynics who think popular culture itself is an oxymoron. For them, following football is indistinguishable from a larger lifestyle that includes eating fast-food, shopping at Wal-Mart, driving an SUV, and wearing unstylish clothing—all mortal sins.
What's more appalling about football for the cynic, though, isn't the game itself, but the unabashed affection hardcore fans have for it. Truly loving a football team—living and dying with every snap, getting decked out for games, hugging strangers after touchdowns—demands a sincerity and unaffected passion that's as painful to the cynic as daylight is to a vampire.
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If the football-basher is an academic, the rhetoric tends to get much more specific, and more politicized. Words like "patriarchy" and "sexist" are tossed around. Almost inevitably the cheerleading squad is denounced as "exploiting" women's bodies—nevermind the men's bodies exploited on the field. Then comes a complaint about college football supposedly robbing resources from serious educational pursuits—apparently on the theory that those 80,000 people who show up for Crimson Tide games would otherwise be attending lectures on French Symbolist poetry.