News and Tribune

August 25, 2013

CUMMINS: How existentialism affects football

By TERRY CUMMINS
newsroom@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY — If a writer’s mind goes blank, he has trouble choosing a topic to write about. If his mind cooperates, he can write about himself, but who wants to read about the dynamics of aging or his great-grandchildren’s cuteness? Younger people in the springtime of life are too busy texting their feelings to be concerned with the winter of life when it returns to earth as dust. It’s a sobering thought, but each of us contributes something when we expire — fertilizer.

As the body decomposes, the mind can, too. Therefore, a writer loses originality in addition to his pencil. What does he do then when facing a deadline? He can repeat what other writers wrote, quoting Dr. Wiseman, or what a politicians said. They know which side their bread is buttered on.

Today’s topic is taken from stuff I read in a newspaper about three things that baffle me; black holes, existentialism and why football players have the legal right to kill. Make it four things — what do women want? Make it five — why does man seek fulfillment on the Internet. 

“Football is a kind of civic religion,” wrote Max Boot in a recent Wall Street Journal article. But football players pay a big price in today’s game on gridirons. They lift weights, cars and run mile-long wind sprints. When a 315-pound lineman savagely hits a speedy running back in the head, brains shake. Physics tells us that when two moving objects hit head on such as a moving wall and a linebacker, the wall wins. More than 100 years ago, President Teddy Roosevelt called football coaches together and told them to make football safer. They did, but as the speed and size of football players increased so did injuries. What does a speedy, 315-pound force do to your knee when it hits it?

Concussions are now a major concern. How many times can a head be battered and remain sensible? The average career of a NFL player is 3.5 years. The average life of a politician is as long as they live. Take Anthony Weiner and batter him on the head, please. But I digress. Winning is everything, and you can’t win unless you play the game.

While you’re tuning into games, a black hole 26,000 light years above your head, is sucking in a huge gas cloud right here in our own Milky Way, says noted scientist Gautam Naik. He explained that about 10 percent of the cloud has already been dragged to the far side of the black hole. What does he know, and how does he know it? While earthly monsters cream each other before 100,000 screaming fans on a football field, astrophysicists make stuff up. New powerful laser telescopes reveal this actuality although it happened 26,000 light years ago, and has taken that long for us to see the light. I didn’t know we’d ever seen the light. I have friends still looking for it. So what?

Fear, that’s what. You should be fearful of black holes, where nothing escapes from its powerful gravitational force. We all need room to escape life’s attitudes and vicissitudes. As we delve deeper into cyber-outer space, there is the danger of losing our identity and individuality. It wouldn’t surprise me to read in an inside page of a newspaper that a new double-laser telescope spotted God. Maybe we should adopt a different philosophy.

I was into realism until my existence began bordering the surreal. Since existentialism is in vogue, thought I’d give it a shot. You read about something that is “existential,” an existential question, crisis or threat. The problem, though, is that we don’t really know what it is.  Essentially, existentialism is based on a doctrine that concrete, individual existence takes precedence over conceptual “essence” and that human beings are totally free and responsible for their acts, which is the source of their feeling of dread and anguish. It means that if you become outraged over the meaninglessness of life, you alone make decisions that affect your life. Existence without essence is boring. When gravity finally gets you, existence goes caput. But do you still have an essence? If so, describe it in 150 words or less.

I did not intend to disturb readers, newspapers do that. Forget gravity, avoid telescopes and if you have an existential question, don’t ask it. Thank God the NFL season opens soon as players defy gravity and existentially bring pleasure to you, but cause anguish to other human beings.

Contact Terry Cummins at TLCTLC@AOL.com