I was inspired, one might say compelled, to write this by the conversation I was eavesdropping on this morning, outside my office door. Unintentional eavesdropping — they were invading my sound-space. And brother, when you invade my sound space, it is on!
Deep male voices — the name Romo comes up a few times – talk of options and blah blah blah. Yes, it was a Monday morning discussion of yet another glorious Dallas Cowboys victory on the field of simulated battle yesterday.
This has never been my world. I’ve never had even the slightest interest in football. None. While I enjoy a good baseball game and I like that sport, I don’t go out of my way to watch it. Basketball — every game is the same. Sorry. It is. But of all the “big 3” sports, football offers nothing to interest me at all. When dudes start talking sports in general, and especially football, I’m pretty sure my eyes glaze over as if the Zombie Virus has just taken hold of me and my mind has gone empty. Which is weird, because to me they’re the zombies.
Before I go on, let me just clear this up. I just said I like baseball. I do. Baseball, for all its steroid scandals, is a great sport. Some will say it is “too slow”. To them I say “No. YOU are too slow, idiot!”. Still, I rarely devote the many hours required to watch a game. I save it for the World Series, but usually I pretty much skip that too. Sorry, I have a life.
My brother-in-law took me to a Boston Bruins hockey game a couple of years ago. First time I’d been to a hockey game. Now THAT was an experience. I can’t say I’ll spend a lot of time watching hockey, but it was fun. And the fans…let’s just say the crazy meter was on “11”.
Now I will continue…
At any get-together, if I meet a new person and they bring up football (which is common and usually happens in the first three seconds of interaction) I know the conversation is over. Done. As soon as those words leave his mouth, I am looking for my exit. “Can you excuse me? I have to go home and put some new doilies on my tea table.” Before you think too badly of me for feeling this way, keep in mind that as soon as that person realizes that I have no idea what he’s talking about he will quickly be scanning the room for safer territory. It’s like being a librarian in a room full of salesmen (I have been in this situation). As soon as they find out you’re a librarian and can’t do anything to make them money, they never make eye contact with you again.
The only thing my liberal intellectual elite mind finds less interesting than professional football is, you guessed it, college or high school football. At least I am vaguely aware of the names of professional teams. In our culture you can’t help but be. But it seems unreasonable to expect me to know anything about your favorite college team. Sorry, but the inner workings of the mind of the coach of the Chickenville State Worm Gobblers isn’t foremost, or even lastmost, on my mind. Getting all worked up about your college or high school team, well, it’s just infantile.
I don’t know any of the millions of rules of football. It’s just too complicated.
I have always preferred doing things myself, rather than watching others do things. I’d rather be skateboarding, or drawing, writing, or reading, or going to aikido practice. Or staring blankly into the sun while wearing a turtleneck sweater on hot summer day with gnats buzzing around my nostrils.
I’m not saying that watching football (or other professional sports) is for stupid, uninteresting people. I know plenty of intelligent interesting people who enjoy watching football. BUT – I’ve never met a stupid uninteresting dude who didn’t love watching football. So there’s an intersection of several Venn diagrams there, and it’s a space I don’t want to occupy.
You’ve probably heard the theory that professional sports are a substitute for war in our society. Instead of city-states actually fighting, they compete on the sports field. Doesn’t seem to be working. Last I heard, people around the world are still killing each other, in-between halves.
It’s more likely, I think, that sports watching/football fanaticism provides some common topic for adult men to discuss — something to insure that at that next dinner party they don’t get mad about politics and start tearing each other apart. Football talk is just violent enough to engage the lizard-brain ever so slightly. I feel my brain stem tingling a bit just thinking about it.
Soccer fans are always quick to point out that soccer is the “real” football. Yeah yeah. Tell it to someone who cares. As much as I don’t care for football, soccer is even worse. Entire games where there is hardly any score. They just run around. They spend a couple of hours accomplishing nothing. Worse part is this — the fans take it so seriously they will KILL each other over it!
While we’re on soccer, let me just mention that what I hate about it is the way the players always pretend to be injured. They are great athletes, but for some reason the culture of the game allows this bullshit acting, and the actors aren’t publicly shamed! This last weekend I went to a pool skating session where a guy tried ten times to ride his skateboard straight into the deep end of a swimming pool. Dude tried about 10 times before making it at least enough to roll away up the next wall. Crashed the other 9 times. No complaining. No crying. Just picked his ass up , climbed out of the pool, and tried again. So you see, I have no patience for soccer players who pretend to be injured.
Back to football…soccer is too big a subject to work in here properly.
I’d rather hear dudes talk about hunting. I don’t even like hunting, but at least in hunting sometimes interesting things happen, like that time Vice President Dick Cheney nearly blew that dude’s face off. See — that is interesting. The potential for good events is there with hunting. You don’t get that with fishing. What’s the worst thing that might happen (other than an occasional drunken drowning)? Getting a hook caught in your nostril?
Which brings me to the one part of football I do like — the injuries. Now let me be clear. I really do feel bad for the people who get brain injuries in football. Or the kids who get paralyzed. It’s a violent sport. I don’t really understand why parents let their kids play. I’m certainly not a wimp. I’m a skateboarder, former wrestler, and a martial arts practitioner. But football is really really really not good for the human body. Parents, seriously, what the fuck? Sure, injures happen in all sports, but in most sports a 300 pound human isn’t targeting his mass x velocity at your knee.
Now, back to my enjoyment of the injuries. Really, I think most people are hoping for injuries. They want their team to really injure the shit out of the opposing team. They want to see “a good hit”. So I’m not alone in this, my sole pleasure from football. I’m just honest about it. Everyone likes to see a good Joe Theismann hit. Fans get to live vicariously through the action of the person inflicting the hit. “MAN I’d like to do that to that guy who takes the last cup of coffee in the office without starting another pot”. That’s what they’re thinking.
One thing that make me sad is when women get dragged into the world of football by their boyfriends or husbands. They become fans. Usually, husbo is a football fan and the choice is simple. Either convert or be an infidel. Being an infidel is not good for the relationship, because there are actually three members of the “couple”, the third being the girlfriend/wife — also known as the “second wife”. The primary wife is football. And football is a very demanding spouse, as it requires huge blocks of time. Watching a football game essentially takes an entire afternoon or evening. So if there are two “important” games on during the weekend (and two is a very light viewing load), well, you get the picture.
All this, and to what end? Well, let me tell you what this is really all about. The purpose of televised sports. The cause of all this misery. One need only watch 15 minutes of a game and it is painfully clear what football’s special purpose is. Selling beer. All the body building, steroids, HGH, and injuries of the players. All the marital/relationship stress, sublimation of violent urges, social isolation and feelings of masculine inadequacy, lack of exercise and associated carb-fueled weight gain.
It’s all about selling beer. Beer finances it all, while still managing to make a healthy profit. If you doubt this, I challenge you to look at a game without your beer goggles on, and be honest with yourself. It isn’t about athleticism, courage, determination, or character development. From peewee league to the NFL, ultimately it is about selling beer.
If this article has angered you, please, I entreat you to seek out a competent mental health professional, because you are sick.
All this being said, if you invite me to a Superbowl party there’s a good chance I’ll show up, because while I don’t care for the game I do enjoy the spectacle and hanging with friends.
You have my vote.
One evening with a small group of relatives, I was relaxed enough to get on a roll where I showed clearly (I thought) how silly it was to be a sports fan of any team. My main argument was players change out constantly, and coaches change pretty fast. So theoretically a team you love could move as a whole to another town and you would be obligated to hate them and love your new team regardless of where they came.
Anyway, I thought it was quite clever and found myself fascinating…BUT I looked around and saw that everybody in the room was glaring at me. And they were all pretty disgusted, even the non-sports fans. Of course I really don’t care and it was all just an entertaining (again, to me) mental exercise.
I think what pushed them over the edges was it was countered that College sports was somehow more endearing, but that seems even worse since you know all players graduate or leave so why the attachment to the school team? I mean it is not like the science and theater departments are out there playing, the real teams are basically semi-pro.
So, strangely if you talk sports, stay away from me. I don’t mean to, by my views offend sports fans worse than if I cared for a rival team.
But i do love beer, so I have some common ground.
I am in complete agreement with you, Dave. I guess I wrote this also because, well, with it seems 90% of men loving televised sports, sometimes I do feel like a freak not caring for them. It doesn’t bother me, but it is kind of an impenetrable wall, especially with regard to small talk. I have one relative by marriage – a cousin’s husband — who if you can’t talk HIS college football team with him, he just has nothing to say to you!
A few years ago I watch a football came (NFL) with my dad, about a month before he died. It was actually kind of fun, I have to admit. I didn’t really have any emotional investment in the game, but it was nice to watch it with him.
We should have a beer and talk about this over the big game.
Dude, do NOT talk to me during the big game. I might miss something!