Look, We're Sorry. We Need to Talk About Football. Something Happened.


Love the football chat. I’m Australian so don’t know too much about American Football but I can empathise with Rob and Patrick being Bears supporters. My beloved Aussie Rules Football team the Melbourne Demons have been terrible for the last 16-18 years. We finally put together a competitive side last year and played some great footy this season. Made it to the last final before the Grand Final (our Super Bowl) only to play the worst game we’d played all year. It was heartbreaking.

Sports do what the best video games do. Players, characters, rules, chance all combine to produce emergent stories. American football is even turn based, its pretty much Xcom.


I wanted Kaepernick and the Broncos subreddit downvoted me to hell. Look where we are now. LOOK AT IT.


Oh I’m glad I saw this and didn’t buy the Steam version like I was planning to. I will wait until April!


Austin please play Bitterblack Isle, it’s so good. the new monsters are great, the story is completely wild just like the ending, and the new armour and weapons all look great. i know you probably don’t need telling, but Please.


You mentioned ideas for ‘Be Good and Re-Watch It’. I would be very interested in ‘The Fall’. It is on Netflix, about a serial killer and the detective(s) trying to find him, but essentially has all of the content warnings.


I listened to the whole football section and enjoyed it! I have no idea what happened but I’m excited to work double doink into my vocabulary.


I feel like a wet blanket and was really questioning whether I should share my feelings on this, but the football chit chat is a massive turn-off for me.

I do appreciate that Austin said to skip the first 35 minutes if you don’t want to listen to football talk, in all honesty.

I’m not some lifelong sports hater or something. I loved football until about five years ago. But the issues around traumatic brain injury, lack of post-career support, and racism (so much racism, racism at all levels and of all varieties) came to a head right as I started to move politically from a big garbage Centrist to a Leftist who cares more about social justice than being entertained by gladiatorial sports.

Maybe it’s an age thing, as I’m a few years older than Austin, Rob, and Patrick, but I have a lot of trouble reconciling their deep love of football and their political opinions because my mind itself cannot allow them to exist in the same space.

I guess I’m in the minority if the other comments here are any indication, but that’s just how I feel about it.

I mean, it’s a hard thing to even be critical of because one of the features about Waypoint’s podcasts that I like is the diversity of subject matter. Also, they clearly just really wanted to banter with each other about football, which is something I spent a good two decades of my life enjoying, so I get it. But still, it bums me out to hear people who have helped me as I’ve been moving Left enjoying something that I frankly feel doesn’t jibe with those exact social and political positions.


I’m a bit numb to the football talk just because it comes up in my real life with people who are ostensibly “good”, but keep up with football anyway. Honestly, up until last season, that would describe me as well. But, like you, I made the decision to not support this destructive system and stopped watching. And while I’m happy for the Waypoint crew finding joy in watching, it does feel incongruous for an unabashedly left-leaning outlet to be so uncritical of this very problematic league and sport.


I think it’s more than fair to feel that way with regard to the danger in the sport, and that’s why they usually mark off discussions as something they tell people how to skip. But I feel like they have tended to voice that criticism/misgivings of the sport when it comes up in discussions (just maybe not this time?). Whenever he tweets about it, Austin always couches what he’s saying in that as well.

Maybe this isn’t what you’re saying, but I do think positioning this as a leftists-should-avoid issue (or maybe a surprised-leftists-would-tolerate issue) has some problems af least in this context because… this is already a website that focuses on an industry with some pretty terrible practices and working conditions, and that yes is critical of those, but in the same way the crew has voiced their criticism of football in the past (unless I’m misremembring previous discussions they’ve had on poscasts and the like). I think everyone here is aware of how terrible the sport is, and maybe we don’t bring that up as openly because we assume everyone else knows as well. The collective attitude we seem to have is that we can recognize (and criticize) those aspects while still appreciating the parts of the medium we find valuable.


I think for me the issue isn’t necessarily the hot-button issues surrounding pro football, because those issues are endemic to the big four North American sports in general. You want racism? Talk to the average baseball fan for five minutes. You want hypocrisy around patriotism? Take a look a the NBA’s anthem policy. You want a league that has a consistent history of undervaluing player well-being? The NHL seems to take that as a point of pride. But the NFL is unique in that it is not only a toxic stew of all those elements, but also the product it sells is inherently unsafe to take part in. Study after study has shown the consistent toll that football takes on the human brain, and so far nobody has been able to come up with a version of the sport where that issue no longer applies.

But here’s the thing; it’s also genuinely an exciting sport to watch, and the ritual of gathering around the TV with family and friends is something to value. So I’m not going to condemn people (including Waypoint folks) from enjoying their weekly respite from the grind of daily life. But talking about it on a podcast feels a bit too close to endorsement that it makes me uncomfortable. I dunno, just my two cents.


Do you feel that this is comparable to talking enthusiastically about games that have had labor issues, such as extreme crunch or abuse by team members?

Honest question, not leading or anything. I don’t follow football, so my feelings about it aren’t conflicted, and I want to know how those who did/are following it feel.


when talking about media consumption like all consumption in our current state of things it is important to remember the eternal words of comrade Sonic.


I actually wish I could mute this sentence. It feels like a quick and easy way to dismiss the value of introspection and individual agency. If it’s the catalyst for thinking more deeply, great, but if it’s your conclusion, I honestly believe everyone can do better.


That’s not the conclusion though. It’s merely saying that while the ruling class is the bourgeois capitalist class that this is the way things will work. The only way to solve these issues is a radical break from this profit driven society and the ghouls of capital stripped of their power.


Okay. I’m not sure how to respond to this other than to say: yes, I think we all know that already. My point stands: in lieu of literal revolution, I think there is value in introspection about our limited agency within this system. I would argue that’s the very reason we are all here, on this forum, or listening to Waypoint podcasts.


I’m not on twitter so I can’t speak to how the Waypoint crew handles their critique on topics there, but I do recall Austin and Rob going into some of the issues they have with football and the NFL back when they were discussing Madden 18 (ep. 111 I believe?). In case people want some more context.


I would go even further than this and say that the type of thinking you’re advocating would be crucial even in a literal revolution, and especially in its aftermath. “No ethical consumption under capitalism” should not imply that there is automatically ethical consumption under whatever new system is implemented. Systems and systemic biases are stronger than that.


than why spend your energy trying to find ways to live a more ethical life in an unethical system than finding ways to end the unethical system? Thinking of just your own individual consumption and trying to fix it to be more ethical is an error in thinking within the bounds of Liberal individualism and won’t solve anything.


we’re just talking about football here bud.


As someone who grew up in a remote Canadian town, it’s a bit surreal hearing people talk about football in the same reverent tones that were the exclusive province (pun, sorry) of the church of Hockey Night in Canada. These days, like I think a lot of people here on Waypoint, I’m a semi-reformed sports fan. So even though it is surreal, it’s, I don’t know, self re-enforcing to hear the podcast folks talk though some of the same emotions I go through when I return to sport. It’s just weird to hear people praise the violence that we all know is going to ruin lives all over the world as people, particularly poor and marginalized people, put themselves through hell to try and turn sport into a ticket out of a bad situation. It’s weird to cringe at the hits that I would have cheered for as a younger person. It’s weird to feel so exhilarated at the thing at the same time.

And to bring this back to video games a bit, I have a similar relationship there. Take wargames for example. I love strategy games. Love them. When the game is making interesting decisions about space time and ability, I show all the way up. But when the games are about historical conflicts in the last few hundred years, or simulate the same, I can sometimes manage it for the sake of the game, but lots of the time I just can’t. I start seeing the figures as people that actually existed, that I feel I can understand and relate to, and might actually be related to. They suffered and died, and I’m playing a game about it. The more alien to me the history, the more I can get away from that.

And so there’s this whole genre, that I know would appeal to the game playing side of me, that I just can’t do. So like hockey, which I can watch and enjoy, if I mostly tune out the commentary, there are games I can enjoy, if I they create a distance from other things that I have a problem with.

So that’s a whole lot of “here’s me” to say, I like hearing the sport side, because I think it really does relate to a bigger conversation about the complex relationship we can have with creators, creations and competition in our media and culture.