How football and videotape plunge America into a hyperreality each Sunday—and how that process recalls the origins of dub.
Shadowing the past few campaigns of the National Football League like a corner in man-to-man coverage has been the medical revelation of irreparable brain damage caused by merely playing the game. With every post-game recap, there seemed to follow even more news on helmet-to-helmet hits, new scientific studies revealing the depths of such trauma, all of it lingering over the game like post-concussion symptoms. Commentary has aired on 60 Minutes and in Time (in 2009, a deflated pigskin illustrated a cover with the headline “The Most Dangerous Game”) and The New Yorker, where Malcolm Gladwell’s article “Offensive Play” discussed the brown tau and beta-amyloid stains that appear on the brains of players who have suffered too many head-on collisions. He noted that NFL players suffered five times higher than average diagnoses of “dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or other memory-related disease” after their playing years were behind them, adding a lineman’s description of a standard downfield drive: “Every play, collision, collision, collision… literally, these white explosionsboom, boom, boomlights getting dimmer and brighter, dimmer and brighter.”