Football in America

It’s slow and boring. It’s wimpy with all the padding and equipment. It’s easy when you use your hands. And that’s the tame version of what I’ve found posted on random blogs and message boards about why some Europeans hate our Football. But let’s face it, anyone who came to know former Houston Oilers enforcer Elvin Bethea on the field would know differently!

Check out this website with an open poll question comparing soccer to football. The NFL was ahead 51% to 49% when I checked. Pretty even. I only bring this up because it’s Super Bowl time — our unofficial national holiday. This is our World Cup every year. [Don’t tell anyone, but I’m not working on “Super Monday,” so I can sleep-in, drink lots of tea and water, and let my voice rest from screaming at the television!]

So what is it about football that captures the heart of most American boys (in Texas, it’s all kids, boys and girls)? Sure, at some point most of us realize we’re too small, slow, and weak to make an impression on the field past middle school. But, yet, football leaves a permanent impression on us… like Earl Campbell used to leave a helmet impression on linemen and linebackers!

If after watching Earl Campbell, you still think American Football is for chumps, check out this interesting article written by an American in Australia talking rugby-versus-the gridiron with the locals. Wimpy? Really? Remember Jack Tatum? He paralyzed Darryl Stingley with one hit in 1977 (Campbell ran over Tatum during a game at the Astrodome once, maybe you caught the highlight on the clip above). C’mon, pro football in America was so rough, they had to change the rules, pads or not. So, I argue football is one of the toughest sports ever, and concurrently one of the most skilled.

Consider the thrill of battle, the controlled-chaos in the trenches at the line of scrimmage. It’s the military-effect; perfectly illustrated over the years by NFL Films (which produced the Campbell video above). Or what about the graceful power and speed of a dominating runner — breaking a tackle, cutting on a dime, and galluping to the endzone? Think Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, or, more recently, LaDainian Tomlinson (LT’s playoff performance this season notwithstanding). You can only watch in awe. And let’s not forget the air assault. There’s nothing like a crisp, tight spiral cutting through the atmosphere with a dramatic, leaping catch waiting at the other end. Think Jerry Rice, Lynn Swann, and, more recently, Randy Moss (who usually doesn’t have to jump much). How about the bullet pass that threads the needle and hits the receiver on the numbers in triple coverage?

It’s the stuff of highlights. But it’s also the idea that anything can happen at any time. As they say, on any given Sunday, on any given play, you might see history rewritten before your eyes.

I think soccer and football — the sports and the fans — have more in common than we think. Both sports are physically grueling, while the fans are physically inferior. Both rely on generation after generation of fanatics with an undying love and support for their team, while the athletes tend to go where the money is. And both sports could be considered religions for their respective fans — they’ll defend their teams before their own families!

Let us know what you think by posting a comment…

…and for fun, check out this Super Bowl Quiz on MSNBC.com. Do you have the answers?

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One Response

  1. The human body has arms, hands, shoulders, and a brain and soccer uses NONE of them.

    I agree with Hank Hill who said:
    “Soccer was invented by European ladies to keep them busy while their husbands did the cooking.”

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