A professor has been pilloried online for a tweet claiming that the Madden NFL video game ‘dehumanized’ black people.
An American college professor has drawn the wrath of Twitter for suggesting that the popular ‘Madden NFL’ video game franchise ‘established a plantation cosplay’ hours after the death of its inspiration, John Madden.
More than a game. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/vtn6HlMj1p
— NFL (@NFL) December 29, 2021
Madden, whose death at the age of 85 was announced late on Tuesday, was one of the most beloved figures in the history of American football, owing to a successful coaching stint and broadcasting career which earmarked him as one of the most knowledgeable figures in gridiron history.
These days, he is known to a new generation for a something completely different: having his name synonymous with the ‘Madden’ video game franchise published annually by Electronic Arts, a title which has appeared on a variety of gaming platforms dating back to 1988.
The series has been cited as being crucial to the growth of the NFL both in and out of the United States, and with helping teach successive generations of players the intricacies of the sport.
But one man doesn’t quite see it that way, and Twitter isn’t letting him off easy.
Dr. Andrew McGregor, whose Twitter bio credits him as being a ‘sports sciences influencer’ and a professor of history at Dallas College, didn’t wait long after Madden’s passing to hit the Twittersphere with the most unusual of hot takes: the Madden video game series was responsible for glamorizing violence, dehumanizing black athletes and building what McGregor referred to as a “digital colony”.
Take it away, doc.
“I have lots of opinions on John Madden,” wrote McGregor, who quite clearly was telling the truth in this regard. “The creation of the Madden video game was not a great development for the U.S. It further glamorized violence and dehumanized Black athletes, helping to establish plantation cosplay that has grown worse in the era of fantasy football.
“The video game distanced the reality of the violent sport from fans, and transformed human behaviors into artificial numbers and simulations. It glamorized athletes, using their name for profits while encouraging fans to disregard the humanity. Madden built a digital plantation.
“At every point in his career – coach, announcer, video game producer – Madden profited off of Black athletic labor and glamorized the violence inherent in the game. He became ubiquitous and grew the NFL into the most popular game, and hastened the development of esports.
“Sure, there is a lot of significance to his life and his impact. But it’s pretty clear most of his accomplishments were not beneficial or healthy for athletes, particular non-white athletes. John Madden made a life in football, one of the most violent and exploitative sports.
“When your entire life is based on expanding and profiting off of one the of most violent and exploitative games, veneration is not exactly something that you deserve.”
Dr. Andrew McGregor’s Madden take is living proof that being a doctor shouldn’t imply you’re smart.
Unless you start developing your abilities to think for yourself, you’ll always be useless to society. Doesn’t matter what sheet of paper a college awards you.
— Gary Sheffield Jr. (@GarysheffieldJr) December 29, 2021
As John Madden might say:
— Tim Murtaugh (@TimMurtaugh) December 29, 2021
Any essays on this evil? pic.twitter.com/ow5iBkcj9d
— Chris F (@CFondetti) December 29, 2021
*John Madden dies*
— Clay Troia (@ClayTroia) December 29, 2021
Now, we’ve all written our fair share of stupid tweets over the years but to do it so eloquently over a string of several messages really takes some doing – and this was the general reaction to Dr. McGregor’s polemic on Tuesday, with one eagle-eyed user even noting an old tweet of McGregor’s which implied that even he used to play the game.
“Dr. Andrew McGregor’s Madden take is living proof that being a doctor shouldn’t imply you’re smart,” wrote one. “Unless you start developing your abilities to think for yourself, you’ll always be useless to society. Doesn’t matter what sheet of paper a college awards you.”
Another noted the aforementioned old tweet from McGregor written in 2017 in which he said that he played the game with his brother.
“As John Madden might say: ‘BOOM!’. College professor who thinks Madden Football is racist played a lot of Madden Football,” they joked.
A third posted a photograph of a table football game and asked McGregor if he had any spicy takes related to “this evil”.
However, one Twitter user came down on McGregor’s side, asking: “Everyone eulogizing Madden: How many concussions could we have prevented had he not turned brain injuries into a video game?”
That issue, though, is one with the sport as a whole and not with the contents of a video game – something which has been successfully played by quite literally millions of people, with almost none of them presumably developing brain injuries or sympathies towards discrimination or racism.
But try telling that to Dr. McGregor.