It is that time of year again. The days before NBA training camps? Well yeah. The death throes of summer? That too. The time when politicians stop messing about and really start asking for votes. Stop that. I am of course talking about the start of professional and collegiate football in the U.S. of A. And it sucks. Now if this sport was as popular as like say lacrosse I would not have any animosity towards it. But this sport is the most popular in America. The one that all USAins (no one calls them that) are supposed to get together and watch whilst eating partially cooked hamburgers and fried shit. It totally overshadows basketball as well as other team sports and this is unacceptable. Like for example in the average American bar there are no “Basketball Night- 1 Dollar Beer Specials”, but there are “Monday Night Football Free Drink Dance Orgies” all over the place. So brace yourselves for a line by line takedown of this inferior sport.
Here are 7 points ( see what I did there?) explaining why American football is total wackness.
The Way it Sounds
Other team sports have beautiful sounds. Whether it be the melodic (albeit drunken) chants of soccer supporters. The clack clack of hockey skates hitting ice. The slow and heavy sound of a basketball hitting the hardwood as the point guard is buying time while the rest of players get into position. The crack of a wooden bat as it hits a baseball. These sounds make a kind of background music to the sport. In a way it is poetic. What does American football have? The sound of a bunch of dudes grunting and screaming before they crash into each other’s war armor. “A prolonged car crash” is not the best phrase, but it is the first that comes to mind.
The Referees and their Flags
Ok Refs suck in every sport. We at PtR have talked in excess about their suckiness in regards to basketball. But in most sports there are only a few ways for them to disrupt a game. For example in basketball it is calling a foul, a travel, a goal tend, or an out of bounds ball. In soccer it is offsides and fouling. In baseball they call the batter’s swings and whether or not someone is safe or not. Yes the calls are wrong sometimes and they can lead to some uncool situations. However in American football? I sometimes think the refs are just making shit up. Most of the times when a flag is thrown on the field, the announcer is like “Hey Chuck I think they are going to call an illegal forward pass on the Albuquerque Aztecs” “Oh I don’t know Barry this looks like an illegal scratching of the scrota on the Miami Sharks.” And to make matters more confusing the refs also seem to make up the number of yards they penalize each team. This throws a total wrench in the fairness of the sport. It also destroys the flow of the game as I try to figure out what in the f*** is a neutral zone infraction is, and why the player who committed this infraction was forced to watch every Twilight movie because of it. This brings us to the next point.
Ah the “flow of the game”. Basketball, Soccer and Hockey only have disruptions in the game when the ball go out of bounds, or when the refs or coaches interfere. To be fair baseball disrupts the game all the time. But I would argue that there is a rhythm in these disruptions. They are predictable and are necessary to the game. But American football seems like a cluster f***ed mess. They seem to stop the game for f***ng anything. And on top of that each time a play occurs the players stop and move. This is tolerable when you see the game at a stadium. But what happens on the TV? Commerical mind f**k time. There are so many commercials during an average NFL game that it feels like one is watching a schizophrenic Billy May’s (Rest in Peace) infomercial. Snap the ball- miss the pass, cut to commercial. Snap the ball- refs throw a flag, cut to commercial. Snap the ball- score ,and cut to an obscenely huge commercial set. Rinse and repeat. Now commercials have crept in to the other team sports. Whenever a “TV time out” interrupts a basketball game I cringe. But this phenomenon (disease?) is most amplified during American football games. And it is only getting worse. Interesting side note: the one team sport that by design cannot have commercial interruptions? Soccer. If you cue to commercial during a Champions leauge game you would have a European riot on your hands. Still wonder why soccer hasn’t been promoted much in the American sports media?
Ok so it is easy to laugh at this ridiculous sport. Until this topic comes up. Did you know that injuries in this sport are a hot issue among sports journalists? But why is this f***ing news? I mean when someone’s profession is to run full speed until some part of their body is impeded by another human being dressed like a Mad Max stand in, is it hard to imagine that people are going to get hurt? A lot of ink has been poured recently about concussions. Especially when Junior Seau committed suicide. Christ I get a headache just listening to ten minutes of this game. I cannot imagine the toll it takes on people who play the sport for a profession. Sure injuries happen in all sports. Basketball for example is open to all kinds of nasty injuries. But we don’t often look at these injuries as deadly. And if Basketball played as few games as American football then these injuries would be dramatically lessened to the point of near extinction. Compound this with the injuries the cheerleaders endure (I am being serious), and this sport is ridiculously dangerous. It cannot be ignored that this sport is painful, and bordering on gladiatorial. I am not one to quote politicians but Ronald “ate American flags for breakfast” Reagan said this: “Football is the last thing left in civilization where men can literally fling themselves bodily at one another in combat and not be at war."
The Season is Too Short
Now there is a very good reason for this and it is why the sport more than sucks but is reckless (see above). But even though there is a very good reason, this doesn’t change the fact the NFL season is 16 games long. This is the shortest season of American professional team sports and it is not even close. And the collegiate version is a whooping 13 games long. The typical NHL season is 82 games long. The typical MLB season is 162 games long! And our beloved NBA? In a lockout shortened season our Spurs played 66 games , that is 46 more games than the Seattle Seahawks play in a full season. Sometimes the players played four games in one week. Can you imagine an NFL team doing that? And by the way, a typical NBA season is 82 games long which is by my count 1,000 more games than the NFL. Why does this matter? Sample size. Other leagues have a much valid depiction of who the best teams are. One goofy game doesn’t drastically affect the outcome of the season. So if for example a team eats a sketchy batch of “colon blow burritos” before game time and are so concentrated on “taking the Browns to the superbowl” that they fumble the football every five seconds, well their season is in jeopardy. They might not even make the playoffs because of eating tainted meat. Other leagues by design make anomalies irrelevant. Heck even the championships of other major leagues are decided by a best of … series. Thus making a “fluke game” not a factor. But if the star player for an American football team so much as sprains their pinky toe, then the outcome of the team’s season is altered. This makes the champions of the sport invalid representatives, and the championship a result of a mixture of luck and skill.
There are way too many positions and players
5 that is how many positions there are in basketball. 11 in soccer. 9 in baseball. Ice Hockey? 6. How many positions are there in American football? 24. Currently each NFL team is allowed 53 players on their roster. Are you f***ing kidding me? This is not a team, this is a small army. The end result is a game with no fluid cohesion. The athletes are given so many breaks that things like “endurance” and “wearing down” are less of a factor. In games like soccer even when the sides are terribly outmatched seldom does anyone score in the first ten minutes or so. But in American football this can happen all the time. It is because the game is more a dress rehearsal of plays practiced ad nausea. If the team has good athletes and a good coach then they are going to run all over a less prepared and athletic team. This is why coaches try to spy on other teams. This is why you will never see an “Open NFL practice”. And this is also why the game is f***ing boring when two similarly talented teams go at it. They have no chance to improvise, or wear each other down. They barely have time to. What with the other 500 players waiting to take the field.
One player is way too important
This is something else that baseball has in common with American football. So sure the pitcher is far and away the most important defensive player in baseball. But the pitcher no matter how good cannot play every game. There is a “pitching rotation” and they are a team within a team. Also the pitcher relies on the catcher for communication/advice and for the remaining team for backup when f*** ups occur. And then on offense? Well usually the pitcher can’t bat worth shit and becomes a liability. (In most formats aside from patty cakes American League rules) Furthermore the pitcher is seldom the captain of the team. They are a cog in the machine. A crucial cog sure. And sometimes they are the hero/villain. But usually they are just expected to do their job and let the batters do the rest. But American football? I dare you to read any recap of any game and not see the quarterback’s name like a billion times. The quarterback almost always wins the Heisman/ Super Bowl MVP etc. They are the undisputed leader of the team, and are given the accolades when the team wins and all the venom when the team sucks donkey testicles. In a democracy why is so much attention given to teams that are basically dictatorships? One thing that makes basketball so infectious is that any random player can be the hero of the day. Upsets occur all the time. But when the game is essentially quarterback versus quarterback? Let the best player win, not the best team.
Extra Point: (I opted to go for the two point conversion in lieu of the easy money)
The Sport is Not Global and it is Not Going to Be Global
Hockey? It is an Olympic sport, and has more of a following in countries like Russia and Canada then it does in the USA. Baseball? A sport invented in the USA? The last World Cup of baseball was decided between the Netherlands and Cuba. The last baseball classic was decided between Japan and South Korea. The last Olympic gold medal for the sport was given to South Korea. Basketball? A sport invented in America ( by a Canadian)? Basketball courts can be found in parks all over the world, and international competitions are far from an easy win for the USA. Soccer? Please. American Football? Are you trying to make me laugh? There is nothing even resembling an international competition in this sport. Why? Well a big reason is rugby. It is similar enough to American football. And rugby is played by loads of countries and in fact American football is called “American rugby” in some places. But I think the biggest reason is that the sport is just perceived as this silly and dangerous game that only Americans play. There is nothing in the sport that makes it compelling enough to play overseas. So in the age of international exchange and communication the most watched sport in America is only watched in America. This is not a sport as much as clinging to an antiquated national institution. It is time to change the rules to be more like rugby. That way American football players can compete in rugby competitions and they won’t get injured nearly as much. It is a win- win for everyone.
End zone celebration dance:
If you like American football then thank you for reading this far and not just going down to the comments and unleashing an atomic hailstorm of naughty words. Sometimes this game can be beautiful. Like when a wide receiver makes an impossible catch and runs 73 yards to score the game winner. Or when a field goal kicker scores the winning points from a desperation kick 60 yards back. In these moments I get it. I understand why people like this sport. But in my humble opinion these moments are too fleeting. Too few and far between. Most games seem scripted, boring, and full of car insurance commercials. It can be different. It can be better. I am not sure how. Perhaps a complete reworking of the game’s format. Perhaps scrapping the game altogether and replacing it with rugby to compete in international competitions. Oh who I am kidding? Just get rid of the game and make the NBA finals the new “Superbowl”.