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Welcome to Ban Week, in which Splinter writers build a case for burning it all down.


The story of the rest of the 21st century, in the best case scenario, will be humanity racing to figure out, make, stick to certain sacrifices and divestitures and farewells—to things like, say, the free market and internal combustion and cheap plastic and so on—in time to prevent or at least delay the world from demanding certain similar but much more painful sacrifices and divestitures and farewells, to things like Miami Beach and civilization and existence. In either case a lot of shit is gonna get “banned,” so to speak, whether by responsible social movements or techno-oligarch overlords or the earth. Hey, while we’re at it, let’s get rid of the NFL.

Listen. Probably the future is gonna be like The Road, in which case daily life will have more than enough in common with the NFL’s product for anybody’s tastes. But imagine the best possible world. Imagine you could go back in time and unmake all the millions of very stupid choices and abdications of choice that have led us to our present super duper dumb and apocalyptic moment. In that alternate-universe culture, is the chief entertainment product a grotesque cartel in which 32 parasitic billionaire men leverage the public’s appetite for the brain-scrambling destruction of fantastic young athletes to squeeze free stadiums out of local taxpayer bases that cannot afford them? Do vile, blind-drunk bigots cram themselves into these insanely wasteful sports temples by the tens of thousands each week to rain bile on those young athletes when the latter’s peaceful expression of conscience reminds the former, uncomfortably, of their common humanity? Probably not.

But I like watching NFL football!, you are mewling, ripping out clumps of your hair and eating them in a frenzy. People like lots of things. Long before you cared a whit for NFL football, one of your very favorite things was having your mother’s tits in your mouth. Presumably you are not into that anymore. You can do without the NFL. You will find other things to pay attention to on autumn and winter Sundays, at least some of which will not be as repugnant and corrosive and morally atrocious as the NFL, a very stupid and toxic thing that has been squatting—both figuratively and, in the case of the ruinously expensive stadiums that host it, literally—across the landscape of American life and sucking the vitality and wealth out of the latter like a giant leech since before you were born. Like for example you could, say, take some kind of inflated prolate spheroid object outside and throw it around with some friends, for fun.

But banning the NFL isn’t plausible!, you are shrieking. The NFL won’t go away until the market for pro football goes away, and that won’t go away until, like, Texas and Oklahoma and Alabama stop feeding their little kids into the football pipeline like pig snouts into a sausage grinder. Okay, fine. Here’s another thing that is not plausible: That a species that spends 150 years heedlessly pumping incalculably vast amounts of poisonous, burning soot into the sky will be able to sit back and let the falsely organic-seeming currents of consumerism steer it through another 150 years of tolerable existence. That’s not how shit is going to work, from now on, if it is going to work at all. Nothing is plausible. Plausible will not be a very good guide, if it ever was, if we ever could discern “plausible” in the first place.

Talented people smashing their brains into each other on TV for the enrichment of a class of unfathomably wealthy vampires is bad. That’s before you even get around to tabulating all the other awful shit the NFL plays a unique role in propping up: the NCAA; the public stadium-financing scam; a market for human growth hormone that competes with people who have actual medical need for it; a culture of exalted violent male aggression and all the poisonous shit—physical sexual violence, of course, but also the latent background radiation that spawns, for example, the exploitative NFL cheerleading industry and innumerable Don’t let your emasculating harpy bitch wife keep you from watching football with your bros! commercials every Sunday—that goes with that; fantasy football; military worship; Jerry Jones’s face. It is a kind of pure, unadulterated bad that should make it very easy to slough off.

The world is the way it is in no small part because wised-up fourth-brain assholes have spent the length of human history going Yeah, sure, that thing over there is bad and toxic and worthless, but some people like it, and actually it’s more comfortable and convenient to imagine that the painful work of just fucking doing away with it will somehow cost more than punting it down the road and letting the uhhhhhh invisible hand of the market (Note: This has always been code for “our grandchildren”) or whatever deal with it later. No more! Let’s start with the NFL, rightly an item of pure ephemera that has been allowed to metastasize into the deeply asinine secular religion of our society thanks to the inertia of shitheads like you and me. Let’s get rid of it. Think of it as a trial run for the harder job of sloughing off, say, easy access to cheap animal protein.


My friends, when we are all irradiated dirt-eating mutants huddled around green-glowing slag heaps for warmth in the hell to come, we will not be reminiscing about NFL football. We will be reminiscing about tater tots! Skin! Sunlight! We will be reminiscing about a time when BattleBots was a fun TV show and not the thing you screamed in warning to the rest of the colony when you felt the ground rumbling beneath you.

Let’s get rid of the NFL, because it sucks and to show ourselves it’s possible. And then, let’s get rid of a lot of other stuff, too. While we can!


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