Good Luck

There’s been some really good writing lately about Andrew Luck’s surprise decision to retire two weeks before the 2019 season begins. Understandably, some “fans” are upset about this. If you remove all the individuality and humanity from the players (and the NFL would like nothing more than a bunch of mindless automatons who spout brand nonsense, plug merch, defend the shield, and then go away quietly to die), then yeah, losing Andrew Luck is a blow. I can imagine a lot of folks who follow the Colts are less than pleased right about now.

Personally, I wish Luck all the best, and I think he’s making the right call. I’ve tried putting myself in the shoes of Colts fans and imagined how I would react if my favorite player, Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan, suddenly retired two weeks before the season began. And I would certainly be bummed about it, but I would hope that I would wish Ryan well as I wish Luck good fortune in going forward.

These men don’t owe us anything. If you’re a season ticket holder or someone who pays for a DirecTV subscription so you can watch your team, that’s all you’re entitled to–watching the team. You aren’t entitled to victories or even seeing your favorite players suit up. The only difference between Luck retiring and Luck getting catastrophically injured is that he’s making the choice that’s good for his life rather than getting obliterated for my entertainment and sending folks scrambling to retool their Fantasy Football lineup.

Football is an incredibly guilty pleasure. We all know what we’re watching and what it costs. We try to justify it to ourselves by saying the players get paid a lot of money and they get to be beloved and they get to play a game, but at the end of the day, we know what this is: disgustingly wealthy white guys making lots of money off gladiatorial combat in the 21st century. And that’s not to diminish the athletic accomplishments of the players or the strategies of the coaching staff, but we’re engaging in a dirty bargain for entertainment that chews up its labor force at an astonishing rate. Andrew Luck decided he didn’t want to be part of that system anymore. “I haven’t been able to live the life I want to live,” he said.

A hard truth is that most of us don’t get to live the lives we want to live, and it’s easy to feel resentment towards someone like Luck who was paid tens of millions of dollars to play a game. But should Luck be miserable because other people are miserable? Should he sacrifice his body and his brain so that we can have a few fleeting hours of entertainment once a week?

If every player behaved like Andrew Luck, the NFL would be gone, and that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world (and I say that as someone who loves watching the Falcons and dutifully tunes in for every game I can). We would not be hard-up for entertainment. We would not be hard up for sports. Andrew Luck doesn’t owe anyone anything except to those closest to him. He shouldn’t be booed for leaving the field. He should be cheered.

Monday, August 26th, 2019 brilliant, sports

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