The murder suicide last Saturday by Jovan Belcher of the Kansas City Chiefs has been linked to the “hyper masculine” nature of the game of football. It got me to wondering what archetype are we gathering around the tv set to watch. If we watch football to see violence used to achieve our goal, then we have become collective tyrants, and a society that values shadow behavior.
I actually don’t think shadow behavior is the attraction. I think we watch football to see an exhibition of the heroic. The players are examples of physical discipline who push their will, endurance, and their bodies to achieve a goal. The hits are impressive for the ruggedness of the recipient – the ability to brush off pain and get on with the job at hand. We also admire a hit cleanly delivered showing the masterful use of force within acceptable boundaries.
That is what makes the game interesting. There are rules, and a code of good sportsmanship, and integrity, that require the players to control their violent potential while using force to assert their will. The players maintain their focus and drive with herculean self-control to stay within the limits of acceptable behavior. We watch football to see the appropriate use of force through self-control. I certainly hope the coaches are delivering this kind of message in the locker room. I hope they are calling on heroic and warrior king archetypes rather than the win at all cost tyrant and the self-pitying coward in their pep talks.
Which brings us to the connection with Jovan Belcher killing his partner. A man who is rooted in his archetypal values carries those values even when no one is watching. A man in his full positive masculine power, the warrior king, chooses to place high value on the feminine. He considers it the highest use of his power to control the physical factors that might do harm to her, without controlling her, because that would kill her essential energy which he has discerned to be valuable – more valuable than his insecurities. The mature masculine drive is to provide for, protect, and preserve the feminine’s ability to inspire and create life.
Jovan Belcher didn’t kill his partner and himself because he was too masculine. He didn’t have a strong enough attachment to the positive masculine to overcome his insecurities.
Maybe it is time to really look at why we watch football, or hockey, or any sport. The archetypal message of the game is playing a big role in society whether we recognize it or not. I want to watch football to see a valiant effort by a well coordinated group of rugged allies to reach their goal through self-discipline and with integrity. How about you?