*extremely dramatic trailer narrator voice* IN A WORLD…WHERE ROBOTS HAVE TAKEN OVER…
ONLY ONE SPORT CAN UNITE THE REMAINING HUMAN POPULATION….
*Monday Night Football music* THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESENTATION OF THE NATIONAL ROBOT FOOTBALL LEAGUE. THIS TELECAST IS COPYRIGHTED BY THE NRFL FOR THE PRIVATE USE OF OUR AUDIENCE ANY OTHER USE OF THIS TELECAST OR ANY PICTURES, DESCRIPTIONS OR ACCOUNTS OF THE GAME WITHOUT THE NRFL’S CONSENT IS PROHIBITED.
*cut to* Montage of robots playing football, robot coaches yelling from the sidelines, humans in the stands, humans watching on tiny prison TVs while robot prison wardens watch.
WHERE ONE ROBOT QUARTERBACK… CAN SAVE US ALL.
*cut to* Sweeping hero shot of Cleatus the Fox Robot, waving a torn American flag and then spiking a football. People and robots everywhere cheer.
CLEATUS. COMING SOON TO A VIEWING BAY NEAR YOU.
Despite my repeated attempts to convince him of its commercial viability, Michael Bay passed on making that the plot of the next Transformers movie. But if we take that dramatization as a jumping off point to a more serious discussion—would an all-robot NFL be so bad? I’m being semi-serious here.
In a league of made up of robot, non-human players, the imminent dangers of CTE would vanish altogether. That’s right, this morally ambiguous quandary that’s been the subject of countless articles, documentaries, and feature films would no longer impact the players themselves. With robot players, there won’t be any human brains to experience trauma. Problem solved!
The wider viewing audience, who may or may not feel guilty about watching grown men have their brains rattled around, would also be spared the emotional questioning. Robots just break. They get repaired easily. There’s no consciousness, no extended family to feed, and no ugly lawsuits or payouts. The bots would be devoid of personality but that hasn’t stopped anyone from fanboying over Tom Brady for a decade. And now we can get back to fundamentals: isn’t the fun of the game just that—the game itself? I would rather sacrifice player personality (I’m sure that would come in later models—haven’t you seen Westworld?) than actual human brains at the rate football players are destroying them now. In my mind, this one is an easy pro.
Another pro of robot football is increased stadium attendance. Statistics show that more people enjoy watching games at home, in their living room, and on TV rather than in a stadium. It’s this author’s opinion that those people have never been to a Bills game, but I digress. I believe that the spectacle of seeing robots play football would draw people back to stadiums and arenas across the country, bringing revenue and life back to those communities. Stadiums come back into use, prices go down, audience participation goes up. I mean, the most recent Transformers made $604 *million* DOMESTICALLY: People will pay to see robots fight. Pro.
Speaking of stadiums: I don’t know if you’ve been following the news lately, but the climate is a-changing out there. From West Coast wildfires to Houston’s tragic flooding to even more flooding, this time in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S, Virgin Islands, stadiums in the future will need to be able to withstand the elements, both indoors and outdoors. Therefore, of course, the competitors will need to be able to play in scorching heat and tens of feet of water. We can build robots to thrive in both of those situations to survive the stadiums we already have. No more conjecture about which QBs can play in cold weather—they all can!
One last, personal pro of the NRFL, if it were to take over tomorrow: I would never have to watch Tom Brady take another snap as quarterback. I know this is extremely petty, but he is the man who has caused me the most pain out of anyone I have never met over my 24 years. I would embrace the takeover of the game by our robot overlords if it meant Tom Brady would never be eligible to compete in the sport for the rest of eternity.
The NFL is a massive employer. Each team has a 53-man final roster, not counting the injured reserve list. Add the coaches, support staff, arena employees, medical staff, security, drivers, chefs, media employees, and even lowly interns—all employed by the NFL. These employees are all very human.
Losing the entire player job pool and giving it to robots would leave thousands of cheese-eating Americans jobless. This is clearly not great. Con.
The takeover of robots in general kinda freaks me out, too. I mean, Google and Apple know SO much about me already: my iPhone tracks everywhere I go and everything I do. I know that thing’s listening to me, because if I mention Doritos offhand in conversation, I’ll see an ad for Doritos pop up next time I’m scrolling through Instagram. And if robots do take over the NFL – what’s to stop them from taking over every sport, every recreational hobby, and normally human activity? Where’s the limit?
A robot NFL would not be perfect, because what makes the NFL so interesting are its imperfections. How can we still watch, week after week, knowing our favorite players will have degenerative brain diseases in 30 years? How can we root for players with histories of domestic and sexual abuse? How can we continue to support the same team who hasn’t made it to the playoffs since 1999? (That last one, again, is highly personal.)
What the league offers—employment for its players, often better lives for many, entertainment for the fans,escapism, and community—is all rooted in its human nature. So maybe robots aren’t an ideal replacement. But you gotta start somewhere. How about with Tom Brady, tonight?