I know the actual opening of football season is a ways off, but that isn’t stopping the National Football League from doing their damnedest to turn America’s most popular game into a year-round phenomenon. This year featured a higher-profile draft, and there is talk about extending the regular season by a couple of games. There is even a reality show filmed inside an NFL locker room.

Demolition Derby, NFL Style

Myself? I’m not a fan of extending the season. I think the current season is already four games too long. The NFL is starting to resemble a demolition derby. The demolition derby, while maybe the greatest spectacle in sport, is ass-backwards. The cars start out at 100 percent, but have to pound it out through two qualifying rounds to make it to the final. By the time the field is narrowed down to the main event, most of the cars are barely running. To me, this is how the NFL teams start to look down the stretch as the playoffs loom. Injuries became a greater factor when the league expanded from 12 games to 16, and they will loom even larger if the expected expansion to an 18-game season goes through.

On that note, injuries have just about put me off of the game I was raised to love. Seeing my childhood heroes almost all physically crippled, mentally disabled, or prematurely pushing up daisies has given me cause to reconsider what I turn to for “entertainment” purposes. Football is a violent game played by violent men. The most recent case in point is Aaron Hernandez—the tight end for the New England Patriots—who currently seems to be the main suspect in a murder case. I’d like to say this is an isolated incident, but I can’t. Gun-play, domestic violence, reckless drunken-driving, drug running, and sexual assault—these have become almost routine when the gladiators we worship on the football field are off-schedule and left to their own devices.

Follow the Money

These are young men with a lot of money. They make a lot of money because they make even more money for the people up-top, and they make all that money because you and I tune in every Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday to watch them bash into one another and run around with a ball made of pig skin. It’s a weird reflection on our collective priorities.

The Fourth of July

Speaking of collective priorities, Trish and I are excited to celebrate the upcoming Independence Day by hoisting a few cold ones and watching the annual Los Molinos Fourth of July Parade go on by. This is a truly wonderful small-town-America happening. Anyone can enter, and last year’s event featured everything from homemade floats, to dancing horses, to an array of antique tractors, to a couple of guys who towed their flag-covered bass boats down the parade’s main route. It’s a curious tradition and a solid way to celebrate “our way of life,” whatever the heck that means.

Bob Howard has been living, working, and writing in Northern Califonria since he moved to Chico in early 2000. In January 2011, he and his wife Trish relocated to Los Molinos, 30 minutes north of Chico, where they are the proud proprietors of the Double Happiness Farm. There they grow organic food, ornamental plants and trees, and generally work to enjoy the beauty of this great region.