18 January 2009

I Tried

I know, as an American, I'm supposed to be a football fan. And you see, I was a huge football fan 20+ years. But since the age of Tivo, it's become increasingly difficult for me to watch the game. Three years of following International Rugby has only compounded my distaste. So aside from the Super Bowl, I've only watched about 5 games over the past 5 years. But it's Championship Sunday and my 'hometown' team is playing. So today I tried to watch football.

It didn't work.

I get the cultural phenomenon that is American Football - lots of people, lots of bad snacks, lots of time together, etc. But the game itself? It's horrendous! And I think it's only got worse over the past 10 years. The game takes forever (4 hours!?) and yet nothing ever really happens. There is no flow, no rhythm to the game, and every single play has to be replayed a minimum of 3 times. You get a couple of replays for a 2 yard run up the middle; if somebody actually scores a touchdown - that's worth 12 different looks from every angle imaginable. But I think the thing that really gets me is that football in 2009 - perhaps unlike Football in 1995, the last time I paid close attention - is all about the DEFENSE. And Sports where defense is primary just aren't as enjoyable to watch (see NBA, Detroit Pistons, circa 1989; cf. NHL, New Jersey Devils, circa 2000).

To my eyes, football is mostly a chaotic mess - the defense tends to blitz somewhere between 2 and 788 players. The offense tries desperately and frantically to avoid those blitzers. The vast majority of plays do NOT go well for the offense, and then occasionally they get lucky and hit for a big play. If you are watching Baltimore play Pittsburgh, don't count on seeing many scoring plays. And overall the game is all about physical strength: e.g. quarterbacks aren't tall and lean any longer, because the key requirement for a quarterback is that he survive the season. The game has no grace to it, no beauty. Maybe it's always been this why, and it is I who have changed. But I'm afraid I'll have to stick with hockey, and re-double my efforts to find a way to watch the Six Nations this year.


Number Three said...

Here are my thoughts on what ruined football:
(1) The way they televise the games. Remember twenty years ago (more like 25 now), when a game on tv didn't feature graphical extras like exploding helmets, dancing robots, when there were only a few cameras and they stayed with shot? The problem is that there's too much, and it wears me out.
(2) They way they announce the games. This is mostly John Madden's fault. But the call used to be a call. Now it's a running commentary on how every single player is the best player . . . the end was really nigh when some broadcasts went to two color commentators. The optimal number of color commentators is actually .75, not 2.
(3) The rules. I would like to see a study of this, and there may be some, but I believe that there used to be fewer penalties. And some of the modern rules are pretty ticky tack. What's weird is that so many of these rules are pro-offense, and yet the game is dominated by defense.
(4) The players are, as fro says, too big. That effects the style of play. But it really affects me in the same way as steroids in baseball affects me.

There used to be a time when pro athletes were talented, and gifted, versions of actual human beings. Now it's like watching cyborgs do battle.

sageblue said...

BTW, the BAL/PIT game stunk, largely because Baltimore doesn't have an offense, and hasn't for over 8 years. I couldn't see the PHL/ARZ game because I was in a choir board meeting. Yes. I dunno. I'm still entertained by it, but I think more because it's something of a ritual, than the game itself.