In February Americans were introduced to the newest sports sensation: XFL. Eighteen million people tuned in to NBC for the new football league's opening night. Considering all the players are NFL rejects, that is an astonishing figure; it is also a disquieting sign of the continued coarsening of American culture.

XFL is the brainchild of Vince McMahon of the World Wrestling Federation, and he's promising to do for football what he did for wrestling. For those who care about civility, it sounds more like a threat. Why? Because the x in XFL stands for extreme, as in extreme violence, sex, and "attitude."

The "attitude"—the deliberate flouting of authority and convention—was established by none other than Jesse Ventura and other celebrities promoting the new league on NBC. The game opens not with the traditional coin toss, but with a mad scramble for the ball, making it the only sport in which you can get knocked out before the game even starts. Players openly use four-letter vulgarities—words easily recognizable despite being bleeped out.

As with wrestling, sex is big. Buxom cheerleaders dispense with pom-poms and plunge into the stands, dancing suggestively with fans while the TV cameras roll. Adding vice to vulgarity, McMahon says he will ask cheerleaders if their sexual relationships with players are hampering the guys' performance on the field.

Ironically, the same week the XFL debuted, the Kaiser Family Foundation released findings from its study of sex on TV: 68 percent of all prime-time programming, and 84 percent of situation comedies, contain sexual content; 10 percent offer "strong suggestions" of sexual intercourse.

The coarsening of our culture is evident in our discourse as well. For example, news journals defer to ...

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Charles Colson
Charles Colson was the founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries, an outreach to convicts, victims of crime, and justice officers. Colson, who converted to Christianity before he was indicted on Watergate-related charges, became one of evangelicalism's most influential voices. His books included Born Again and How Now Shall We Live? A Christianity Today columnist since 1985, Colson died in 2012.
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