Welp, Aaron Rodgers certainly made it easier for me to stop caring about sports.

There’s no comedian, musician, actor, or artist who could have disappointed me more than Aaron Rodgers disappointed me this week. And what he did isn’t close to the worst thing any of my former heroes have done. He’s not an open Trump supporter like Mariano Rivera, Paul O’Neill, or Brett Favre, hasn’t engaged in generally idiotic criminal behavior like Johnny Jolly, Sean Avery, or Brett Favre, and has never been accused of abusive or predatory behavior or violence like David Cone, Robin Van Persie, or Brett Favre. For Christ’s sake, I’m willing to do the mental gymnastics to continue to root for the New York Knicks despite everything that’s happened for the last 20 years, and the fact that their recent resurgence is in no small part fueled by Derrick Rose.

There’s a sense of betrayal with Aaron Rodgers, though, because, for the past decade-plus, I’ve convinced myself that he is not only one of the greatest athletes to ever play for a team I root for, but that he, himself, was a fun dude to root for.

Every year he’d have some kind of quip that became a team rallying point (“R-E-L-A-X”, “Run the Table“, and even earlier this year, “I fucking own you“). He hates his conservative family, went to Berkeley, is an atheist who mocked a rival quarterback’s evangelism, and was outspoken about Colin Kaepernick. He was always noted for having an overwhelming ego, which clashed with management and coaches, but when it’s a feud between Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy, you’re always going to side with Aaron Rodgers.

All the signs that could be interpreted as awesome attributes of a closet leftist who has to keep his politics in check playing for a team owned by fans who have consistently voted Republican for decades. But they could just as easily point to a Joe Rogan acolyte. Turns out, it’s the latter. If he’s a Bernie supporter, he’s the kind of Bernie supporter that, as a friend of mine put it, comes from Lydon LaRouche.

I didn’t know about Shailiene Woodley’s homeopathic anti-science stuff. I didn’t know anything about Rodgers’ relationship with Miles Telfer, or Miles Telfer’s deal at all. Maybe I didn’t want to know. Maybe I would have chosen to believe something else until reality forced my hand.

My ability to justify watching the NFL in spite of all morality to the contrary was already hanging by a thread. Now…what’s the best-case scenario? My favorite team wins the Super Bowl, with this idiot getting validation? The Jets, my other favorite team, come back from the dead? Jordan Love becomes an NFL legend, then turns out to be an asshole 15 years from now?

I need a sabbatical at the very least, but this feels like a straw that broke the camel’s back. All my Packers jerseys are going to Goodwill. I’m donating to the Concussion Legacy Foundation every remaining month of this football season.

I can stomach a lot of moral shades of gray when it comes to sports. But this story feels like a loved one dying.

I’m going to spend a lot of words on the absolutely horrific Chicago Blackhawks scandal. But none of them will be as perfect as this Tweet:

I don’t have the energy to summarize the scandal too much. May I recommend this summary (CW), or simply Googling it. The worst part of the story is the horrific abuse Kyle Beach endured. Coming up in close second is the level of cover up at every level of the organization’s leadership. Closely coming in third is the level of horrific homophobic slurs and toxic masculinity that Kyle Beach had to endure for something that was no fault of his own.

This is a player who gave his body and soul to the sport of hockey. He was an absolute star at the junior level, so much so that he was drafted by the Blackhawks high in the first round. This was one year after the Hawks drafted Patrick Kane, who the Blackhawks shamelessly defended in a sexual assault scandal of his own, despite a pattern of abusive behavior. This is an organization who, before anyone even asked, jumped the gun and loudly announced they would not change their offensive name with racist origins. For years, Hawks fans wondered why Kyle Beach, a highly touted prospect, never got a fair shot in the NHL. Now we know why.

At the same time this story was unfolding, the Hawks and their fans were enjoying the most joyous stretch in the history of their franchise, founded nearly 100 years ago. In 2010 they ended a 49 year year title drought, and proceeded to win 3 Stanley Cups in 6 years. I had strong connections to Chicago through college, and watched some of my friends there, Hawks fans for life, enjoy the kind of success that all sports fans dream of. Kane, aside, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Patrick Sharp, and many others became names that Hawks fans will talk to their grandchildren about. All of those names, as well as the organization leaders that brilliantly managed their roster, are tainted forever.

It’s exhausting, it’s frustrating. I hate all of it. Other franchises are dragged into it. And it’s so predictable based on everything we’ve seen from hockey culture, and sports culture in general.

I’ve been feeling frustrated about this for the past 24 hours. I’ve stayed a fan of the New York Knicks and New York Jets despite their cultures of sexual harassment and toxicity. I don’t begrudge Blackhawks fans or any sports fan for staying loyal to a team. But I don’t know what I’d do if I was a full fledged Hawks fan right now.

I don’t see this culture changing. I can’t do anything personally to change it. Some people don’t understand why the Internet defaults to hostility. It’s one of the reasons I decided to blog more and post on social media less. But when you’re powerless to stop a force in society that has devastating consequences on people who don’t deserve it, and not nearly enough consequences for those who abuse, sometimes the best response is simply “fuck you”.

Last year I made the choice to stop drinking alcohol. It wasn’t a situation where I had to stop to save my life. I just didn’t feel the need to drink anymore. I barely eat sugar anymore at this point in my life. I quit smoking 6 years ago after I had some health issues and realized that only smoking when I was drinking wasn’t worth it. Most of the bad habits that can drive others to the brink of madness, and most of my own toxic behaviors from my younger days, I’ve either cut out of my life or have done a lot of work to cut out of my life.

There’s one glaring exception: I can’t stop watching sports. I don’t even know how to begin.

Continue Reading Why Do I Still Give A Sh*t About Sports?