George Will is a longtime hater of liberalism, and a longtime hater of football, so it makes sense that he would try to align his hatreds and write a column arguing that college football is an expression of liberalism:>
College football became a national phenomenon because it supposedly served the values of progressivism, in two ways. It exemplified specialization, expertise and scientific management. And it would reconcile the public to the transformation of universities, especially public universities, into something progressivism desired but the public found alien. Replicating industrialism’s division of labor, universities introduced the fragmentation of the old curriculum of moral instruction into increasingly specialized and arcane disciplines. These included the recently founded social sciences — economics, sociology, political science — that were supposed to supply progressive governments with the expertise to manage the complexities of the modern economy and the simplicities of the uninstructed masses.
Football taught the progressive virtue of subordinating the individual to the collectivity. Inevitably, this led to the cult of one individual, the coach.
One flaw with Will’s thesis here is that the regions of the country most enamored with college football are least enamored with liberalism. College football is most popular in the Deep South, followed by the Midwest, followed by the West Coast, followed by the Northeast. The popularity of liberalism by region is that list in reverse.
The obvious solution here is for George Will to tour the Deep South explaining to rabid football fans that they have been taken in by the sinister hand of progressivism.