For anyone watching Netflix series QB1: Beyond the Lights from the UK, the series is a huge culture shock.
And rightly so.
Each series follows three teenage quarterbacks who have been tipped for NFL glory. We watch over the course of their senior college season as their heads balloon with arrogance and everyone from the local shopkeeper to Gatorade sponsors explain how they’re ‘the next big thing’.
These student-athletes play on state-of-the-art American football pitches, receive sponsorship deals at the age of 16 and even partake in media duties as if they’re live on Match of the Day with Gary Linekar.
It’s no surprise that season 3 star Spencer Rattler carries the heavy burden of blindingly unattractive arrogance. For many viewers, the no.1 ranked junior quarterback was their favourite when the season kicked-off.
Yet as his personality started to shine through, Spence became the series chump that everyone hoped would fail.
What else could we have expected?
Junior American football players are treated like rulers of their local community. And if you’re the starting quarterback, you’re the untouchable king.
It’s startling to see a 16-year-old speaking to a national newspaper about his career ambitions and addressing how he is the no.1 ranked player in the country, just as Spencer did on countless occasions during QB1 season 3.
Even the top young Olympic athletes in the UK are protected from the media, not least to ensure a ‘feet firmly on the ground’ mentality is installed. After all, they’re growing into adulthood and slowing developing an understanding of ‘life’ decisions and accountability.
Yet Netflix baring down its camera on Spencer’s personal life made little difference to the outcome of his season. As the QB king of the country, his personality was rooted with the type of cocksure arrogance that American’s seem to believe results in a winning lifestyle.
Spencer displayed disgusting shades of bullying via his treatment of back-up quarterback JD Johnson, rarely offering support or encouragement to his so-called friend. His ‘win at all costs’ attitude in everything from a friendly lemon squeezing competition to a family basketball game at home with his sister leads you to pity just how impersonable he is as a human.
But what else should we have expected?
It’s not Spencer’s fault but the skill and talent he has been gifted with. Rather than nurture and develop him as an athlete and a person, American football culture forces him to become a glorified NFL quarterback when in reality, he could be working in Walmart with one wrong step.
No wonder Spencer was suspended
Spencer finished the season as an ineligible player at Pinnacle High School, with an inconclusive reasoning behind his absence.
However, rumours have strongly suggested that Spencer was involved in a violation related to drinking/taking drugs, where reports suggest that he was caught smoking weed in a school parking lot.
This kid was expected to break school records, lead his team to titles and head to university at the best quarterback in the United States – all while under the watchful eye of friends, family, football scouts, Netflix and sponsors.
It’s no wonder that the pressure became too much and he needed an escape route.
Spencer Rattler on Instagram…
Spencer now has close to 150,000 followers on Instagram.
He’s famous, and all for playing sport in school.
In the UK, the idea is preposterous, yet across the pond it’s just part of the character-building that goes into the make or break culture of forming the NFL’s next generation of quarterbacks.
For the sake of Spencer Rattler’s future, let’s hope he makes it. Because if he doesn’t, there are some stiff mental health challenges down the line.