Football as a Fertility Rite

Jester Image

Obviously, Football is a syndrome of religious rites symbolizing the struggle to preserve the Egg of Life through the rigors of impending winter. The rites begin at the Autumn Equinox and culminate on the first day of the New Year, with great festivals identified with bowls of plenty. The festivals are associated with flowers such as roses; fruits such as oranges; farm crops such as cotton; and even sun-worship and appeasement of great reptiles such as alligators.

In these rites, the Egg of Life is symbolized by what is called "The Oval", an inflated bladder covered with hog skin. The convention of "The Oval" is repeated in the architectural oval-shaped design of the vast outdoor churches in which the services are held every sabbath in every town and city. Also every Sunday in the greater centers of population where an advanced priesthood performs. These enormous churches dominate every college campus; no other edifice compares in size with them, and they bear witness to the high spiritual development of the culture that produced them.

Literally millions of worshipers attend the sabbath services in these open-air churches. Subconsciously, these hordes are seeking an outlet from sexual frustration in anticipation of violent masochism and sadism about to be enacted by a highly trained priesthood of young men. Football obviously arises out of the Oedipus complex. Love of mother dominates the entire ritual. (Notre Dame and Football are synonymous).

The rites are preformed on a green rectangular area orientated to the four directions. The green area, symbolizing Summer, is striped with ominous white lines representing the knifing snows of Winter. The white stripes are repeated in the ceremonial costumes of the four whistling monitors who control the services through a time period divided into four quarters, symbolizing the four Seasons. The ceremony begins with colorful processions of musicians and semi-nude virgins who move in and out of ritualized patterns. This excites the thousands of worshipers to rise from their seats, shout frenzied poetry in unison and chant ecstatic anthems through which runs the Oedipus theme of willingness to die for the love of mother. The actual rites, performed by 22 young priests of perfect physique, might appear to the uninitiated as a chaotic conflict concerned only with hurting the Oval by kicking it, then endeavoring to rescue and protect the Egg.

However, the procedure is highly stylized. On each side there are eleven young men wearing colorful and protective costumes. The group in so-called "possession" of the Oval first arrange themselves in an egg-shaped "huddle," as it is called, for a moment of prayerful meditation and whispering of secret numbers to each other. Then they rearrange themselves with relation to the position of the Egg. In a typical "formation" there are seven priests "on the line," seven being a mystical number associated not, as Jung purists might contend, with the "seven last words" but actually, with sublimation of the "seven deadly sins" into "the seven cardinal principles of education."

The central priest crouches over the Egg, protecting it with his hands, while over his back quarters hovers the "Quarterback." The transposition of "back quarters" to "quarterback" is easily explained by the Adler School. To the layman the curious posture assumed by the "Quarterback," as he hovers over the central priest, immediately suggests the Cretan origins of Mycenaean animal art, but this popular view is untenable. Actually, of course, the "quarter-back" symbolizes the libido, combining two instincts, namely, a) Eros, which strives for even closer union, and b) the instinct for destruction of anything which lies in the path of Eros. Moreover, the "pleasure-pain" excitement of the hysterical worshipers focuses entirely on the actions of the libido-quarter-back. Behind him are three priests representing the male triad.

At a given signal, the Egg is passed by sleight-of-hand to one of the members of the triad who endeavors to move it by bodily force across the white lines of Winter. This procedure up and down the enclosure, continues through the four quarters of the ritual. At the end of the second quarter, implying the Summer Solstice, the processions of musicians and semi-nude virgins are resumed. After forming themselves into pictograms representing alphabetical and animal fetishes, the virgins perform a most curious rite requiring far more dexterity than the earlier phallic Maypole rituals from which it seems to be derived. Each of the virgins carries a wand of shining metal which she spins on her fingertips, tosses playfully into the air, and with which she interweaves her body in most intricate gyrations. The virgins perform another important function throughout the entire service. This concerns the mystical rite of "conversion" following success of one of the young priests in carrying the Oval across the last white line of Winter. As the moment of "conversion" approaches, the virgins kneel at the edge of the rectangle, bury their faces in the earth, then raise their arms to heaven in supplication, praying that "the uprights will be split." "Conversion" is indeed a dedicated ceremony.

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