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Football Aiming to Grow

Football, already the eight hundred pound gorilla of sports in this country, is determined to get bigger.

Evidence of this determination came this week in a press release from an organization called U.S.A. Football, an allegedly non-profit group launched by the National Football League and its Players' Association. The organization announced that the period from August 25th to September 30th has been designated Play Football Month.

Remarkably, nobody in the organization noticed that this particular month is thirty seven days long. Or maybe they did notice, and they figured that since football's bigger than everything else, its month should be bigger than all the other months.

Last year, U.S.A. Football actually satisfied itself with a puny Play Football Week, but in public relations, as on the football field, bigger is better. A three hundred sixty pound lineman will tumble some puny two hundred ninety pound guy over and step on his head every time, so why settle for a week when you can go for a month? and why be satisfied with a normal month when you can build one that's thirty seven days long?

The official slogan for Play Football Month is "Be Part of the Football Family." This is an injunction utterly superfluous for vast numbers of Americans who already gather as a family all day Saturday and Sunday as well as Monday night to watch football on television, although beginning the campaign in August may encourage some number of especially suggestible rubes to watch pre-season games they might otherwise have ignored.

As part of the celebration of National Football Month, National Football League teams and youth football organizations across the country will be involved in various events, including scrimmages. I'm taking the N.F.L. guys, even if I have to give the points.

U.S.A. Football Chairman Jack Kemp said in this week's press release, "Football is more than passing, running, blocking, and tackling," and certainly he's right. Football is also concussions, torn ligaments, and heat prostration. In its manifestation at the major football universities, it's a model of hypocrisy. It's the lifeblood of this great nation's mighty and growing gambling industry.

It's a happy oversight that the people behind Play Football Month stopped short of recognizing those distinctions, or we'd probably be on the brink of an eternally renewable Play Football Year.

This program aired on August 20, 2005. The audio for this program is not available.

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