Via Outsports, in honor of the Superbowl, enjoy some excerpts from Cal-Berkeley anthropologist Alan Dundes’s classic 1978 text Into the End Zone for a Touchdown: A Psychoanalytic Consideration of American Football, which breaks down the meaning of your red-blooded Midwestern relatives’ favorite sport:
The whole language of football is involved in sexual allusions. We were told to go out and “fuck those guys”; to take that ball and “stick it up their asses” or “down their throats.” Over the years I’ve seen many a coach get emotionally aroused while he was diagramming a particular play into an imaginary hole on the blackboard. His face red, his voice rising, he would show the ball carrier how he wanted him to “stick it in the hole.”
It is highly likely that the ritual aspect of football, providing as it does a socially sanctioned framework for male body contact…is a form of homosexual behavior. The unequivocal sexual symbolism of the game make it difficult to draw any other conclusion. Sexual acts carried out in thinly disguised symbolic form by, and directed towards, males only, would seem to constitute ritual homosexuality.
The object of the game, simply stated, is to get into the opponent’s end zone while preventing the opponent from getting into one’s own end zone. We can now better understand the appropriateness of the “bottom patting” so often observed among football players. A good offensive or defensive play deserves a pat on the rear end. The recipient has held up his end and has thereby helped protect the collective “end” of the entire team. One pats one’s teammates’ ends, but one seeks to violate the end zone of one’s opponents!
Certainly the terminology used in football is suggestive. One gains yardage,but it is not territory which is kept in the sense of being permanently acquired by the invading team. The territory invaded remains nominally under the proprietorship of the opponent. A sports announcer or fan might say, for example, “This is the deepest penetration into (opponent’s team name) territory so far.”
The trust one has for one’s own teammates is perhaps signaled by the common postural stance of football players. The so-called three-point stance involves bending over in a distinct stooped position with one’s rear end exposed. It is an unusual position and it does make one especially vulnerable to attack from behind, that is,vulnerable to a homosexual attack. Since one can trust one’s teammates, one knows that one will be patted, not raped.
Thus in the beginning of the football game, we have two sets or teams of males. By the end of the game, one of the teams is “on top,” namely the one which has “scored” most by getting into the other team’s “end zone.” The end zone is a kind of erogenous zone. The losing team, if the scoring differential is great, may be said to have been “creamed.”