Well, I guess it’s about time for me to throw my 2 cents worth into the pot regarding the current uproar over the woman-shoving and -kicking incident involving the Kansas City Chiefs superstar Kareem Hunt. After all, I myself set the precedent when I commented on the Ray Rice / Janay Rice (nee Palmer) “Battle of the Elevator”. But that latter instance of astute sports commentary occurred 'way back in September of 2014, i.e., back before virtually every dimension of our collective life as a Nation had been polluted and degraded by the virus of rampant Trump-ism. So please be advised, I herewith announce my Damascene conversion: I have decided that if I cannot beat ‘em, I will damn well join ‘em.
So, instead of, as in 2014, excoriating the NFL, Roger Goodell, the Chiefs, the professional-jock subculture, and – above all – pro-sports fans who buy tickets and merchandise to subsidize all the above, as your 2014 Resident Skeptic would have done – I herewith propose a new game, a cognate of football, but designed for 21st-century, Trump- / -Kavanaugh era America to entertain us as we slide toward the Republic of Gideon as depicted in The Handmaid’s Tale: the game of Three-Dimensional Woman-Ball. The following comprises a brief sketch of the rules. Technical details to be defined later.
Three-dimensional woman-ball (hereafter 3DWB) is played inside a skyscraper of at least 100 stories, although a regulation playing venue would contain exactly 100 stories. Each team of 3DWB players comprises 11 members. Allocated to each game of 3DWB there would be one woman, dressed in the ankle-length red dress and white bonnet depicted in The Handmaid’s Tale. She is not allowed to move under her own power, only under the power of one of the players on one of the teams. (See there? Allowing women to move only under the supervisory control of men means that, even in its most embryonic form -- and before even the first exhibition game is ever played -- 3DWB should be hailed as a signal triumph of male / phallocentric patriarchalism over anything as progressive-bourgeois as mere gender equality. Hunt and Rice obligingly gave us a 2D foretaste of this in a hotel just recently by kicking their significant others. It is only a tiny step from 3DWB to prohibiting women from having credit cards in their own name!) The ultimate object of the game is to score a touchup -- corresponding to a touchdown in conventional football ... get it? ... remember, we are going up a skyscraper -- by carrying, kicking, or otherwise conveying the woman from wherever she is at any given point in the game to the 100th floor – or the roof, if the 3DWB skyscraper has exactly 100 floors – within the time allotted to the game (around 3 hours, real-time, not allowing for overtime play to break ties in championship games). The movement from floor to floor, as well as the horizontal / planar movement on each floor, accounts for the "3D" in "3DWB". Each team has four chances – or, in 3DWB terminology, 4 ups (in contrast to downs in conventional football ... again, get it? ... the object of the game is to move the woman up a skyscraper ... please pay attention) – to move the woman a certain minimum distance.
The minimum distance in conventional football is 10 yards. The minimum distance in 3DWB is as yet to be determined, since it is unclear how to measure elapsed 3-dimensional distance inside a skyscraper: feet? meters? floors?. I would propose a 3DWB commission to work out such technical details. If the team possessing the woman is unable to move the woman the minimum distance after 4 ups, then possession of the woman passes to the opposing team, either by kicking the woman a certain distance up, say, a staircase in the game venue skyscraper -- the 3DWB equivalent of a 4th-down punt -- or, on 4th “up”, taking possession of the woman at the point where the possessing team failed to move her on 4th up.
Other ways to score would include, perhaps among others, a 3DWB field goal, where one team's kicker attempted to kick the woman up a staircase to within some distance of the top of the skyscraper (or the 100th floor). If the woman landed within a certain distance of the top / 100th floor, that team would be awarded 3 points. They would be said to have scored a "field up". (Both Ray Rice and Kareem Hunt -- as well as any number of other conventional NFL players presently under arrest and / or restraining orders for domestic violence -- provide, no doubt inadvertantly, examples of a "field-up".) In 3DWB, there would be no "point-after touchup", the 2D equivalent in conventional 2D football being largely a great yawn magnet. However, the defending team could score an "up-safety" if the defending team managed to sack the offensive quarterback in the latter's end-zone floor. (Again, there is a lot here that requires elucidation by the aforementioned 3DWB rules committee. This is just a bare sketch.) If an offensive player dropped the woman while, say, running for a staircase or an up-elevator on his way to the top / 100th floor, and if the woman were recovered by a defending player, such a development would be termed an "up-fumble," and possession of the woman would transfer to the defending team -- which would now mount its own offense. Using the same woman, of course. Any 3DWB game would have to pause for a decent interval if a player, on any given play, suffered a disabling or debilitating injury. If the woman were injured, of course, game officials would simply replace her with another woman. She is expendable. Interchangeable. Fungible. And any 3DWB official who, by word or deed, deigned to actually listen seriously to her complaints would be subject to severe and summary disciplinary action. This would be colloquially known as the "Kavanaugh Rule".
As you can easily see, this is a mere skeletal sketch of the new game of 3-dimensional woman-ball. Space and time prevent me from going into any degree of technical depth. Though I will say that the health of the game of 3DWB will depend vitally, like its conventional 2-dimensional football counterpart, on a robust farm system, comprising colleges and universities with well-supported and -financed indigenous 3DWB programs.
One element of this farm system would have to be, as presently, incentives for college-level 3DWB players to excel. In order to preserve the purity of the amateur-sports culture, these incentives could not be monetary in nature. The existing college farm system is the epitome of purity in this regard, of course. Gambling / gaming / wagering on 3DWB games by 3DWB coaches and officials would have to be likewise prohibited, again along the lines laid down with such uncompromising rigor in college sports.In lieu of monetary incentives for 3DWB college excellence, I would suggest instead that, among other rewards, outstanding college 3DWB players be awarded annually the 3DWB equivalent of the prestigious Heisman Trophy. I would even propose that this trophy consist of a bronze statue of a woman dressed in an ankle-length dress and bonnet quite similar to such items worn by women in the Republic of Gideon in The Handmaid's Tale. I would also respectfully suggest that this award be known as "The Atwood". I would also suggest that, in the interest of gender equality, the base of the Atwood should be inscribed in Latin with what is evidently already the de facto motto of the existing NFL, and what should be the motto of the entire 3DWB league: Mira sunt, homo debet habere saltem uno omnes ("Women are wonderful -- Every man should own at least one").
Finally, a serious note ... if you are offended by any or all the above and consider it in bad taste, I submit that you should refrain from such judgments as long as you continue in the practice of subsidizing the current rape-and-assault culture so prevalent in the National Football League. As long as you are buying tickets, team merchandise, NFL-based video games, and contributing to TV advertisement revenue by watching televised games -- you are, to be as brutally candid as possible, getting precisely what you, quite literally, pay for. As long as you engage in these activities you have no standing to lecture me on "bad taste". Doing so is a classical instance of ignoring the plank in your eye while presuming to remove the speck from mine.
James R. Cowles