Thursday, November 8, 2007

Life Without Football

Wow, another good one from Kyle Whelliston on football and American culture.

Football is a game that has become 15 percent sport and 85 percent extraneous matter. The reports from training camp, the player profiles drawn in heroic bas-relief, the ex-players debating concepts like "knowing how to win." Indeed, the football broadcast in 2007 has become the final evolution of the spambox, padded with balding cures, penis pills, dangerous financial offers, and tits. And like spam, it's all very difficult to filter out.
If you do not like football, you will love this essay. If you like football, it will challenge you to ask yourself why. If you are apathetic about football, it will speak to larger cultural concerns.


Amy said...

Amen! I just thought I wasn't a cool wife, but now I know that I just don't have 4 hours every Saturday to devote to watching "the backs of helmets and jersey shots." :)

I don't know where you get this stuff, but your blog is quickly becoming one of my favorite spots to stop and think.

Justin said...

For once you post something I almost entirely disagree with!

Firstly, your quoted portion: "Indeed, the football broadcast in 2007 has become the final evolution of the spambox, padded with balding cures, penis pills, dangerous financial offers, and tits. And like spam, it's all very difficult to filter out."

Author fails to mention the obvious: Football draws bigger ratings, hence the more well-to-do companies spend their money there, instead of on ESPN-U. Me, I've been getting into disc golf. Where can I watch professionals play the game? Only on the Internet. There are hardly any ads of any sort: Does that make DGolf purer than BBall?

But seriously, his critique is of football culture, which is hardly the same thing as football itself. Football itself, especially at the professional level, is THE sport of strategy, which is why I'm more interested in it than in an individual-athlete sport like baseball or a game prone to showboating like basketball. It's much more psychological than any other sport, violent as it may be. Are the deluge of beer ads (for bad beers, I might add) and somewhat loosely dressed cheerleaders really a reflection of the SPORT? No, but of the culture around the sport — which might reflect something about the sport's fans, although I think it probably reflects more about the marketing department's NOTION of the fans. I simply mute the ads and do chores at halftime.

The real kicker of a subjective thought: "American football is about as boring as reading something, written by someone you've never met, about watching TV."

I think that one speaks for itself.

Cort said...

I thought you might, Justin. :)

1. Re: the "well-to-do" companies, what you say may be true to some degree, but why would MNF go with the Terrell Owens/Nicolette Sheridan promo? No (bad) beer company did that. That was the entity known as MNF.

2. "Is disc golf purer than basketball?" Which basketball? NBA? Yes. Big-time college hoops? Yeah. Small college hoops? I think they are close.

But, this really does not matter since we are talking about football and basketball.

3. Football is NOT prone to showboating?!?! Ever heard of the aforementioned TO? I've yet to see a Bball player yank out a hidden cell phone after scoring (Joe Horn, Saints). I've never seen a team-choreographed dance number after a three-point basket. How many times does a linemen flex after a sack? Or a player strike a pose after a first down? You CAN'T do that in Bball, because the other team is usually running it back down court right after the opposition scores.

In football, you can have a congratulatory pig pile after every play and still have plenty of time to lineup for the next one.

Showboating occurs in nearly every sport, but if you are defending football, you can't go here.

4. I will not defend baseball, since one can be 50 lbs overweight and not be able to run the bases in a reasonable amount of time and still make the all-star team.

For football's strengths that you pointed out, it is still a game of specialization. Some like that, and that's fine, but I'm not one of them.

Peyton Manning does not have to play defense. EVERY basketball player does. Football is a game where a significant edge can be gained by cheating in the weight room (steroids). This may be true to a small degree in hoops, but bench pressing 400 lbs or being able to run through a wall does not help you shoot from Three or make free throws. Football players are anonymous on the field due to padding and helmets. The emotions of Bball players are visible from my seats in Diddle.

In short: football is war. Basketball is art.

I appreciate football, and I enjoy it. But it mostly whets my appetite for basketball.

Justin said...

About the "showboating"... I used the wrong word, and I'm not sure what the right word is. What I meant is, a single player doesn't "hog the ball" and get the limelight as they often do in the NBA. What I didn't mean is celebratory dancing/jumping/whatever, which doesn't really bother me, and doesn't really excite me.

That may be part of the problem, though: I'm generally comparing NFL to NBA, whereas you and your friend are both into college BBall.

The short of my argument, however, still stands: 1.) Dude's problem is not with football, but with the marketing. Even if MNF did that scene with Terrell Owens and whatshername, that can't be said to reflect on football the sport. Only on the network providing the coverage of the sport. 2.) Saying "football is boring" is like saying "chess is boring." Or "Mozart is boring." It seems to me a comprehension problem on the part of the author, not a flaw in the sport.

Now baseball — THAT's boring! :-)

Cort said...

Important distinction: college vs NBA. In fact, I probably enjoy NFL football more then NBA basketball, because the NBA soils a game that I love. I hate the Kobe offense ("ball hog"), and most teams run it. I've posted on that before.

At least the NFL has a playoff system that can crown a champion in less than 3 months!

Definitely, Kyle's argument is about the culture of the football. While I do prefer hoops, I would not call football a "boring" game as he does. I don't like the herky-jerky nature of it (one play, rest for 30 secs, next play, etc), but I truly do appreciate the game.

I was the honorary captain for WKU football this past Sat. This was mainly because I have worked closely in the classroom with many of the players. Maybe I can post about what I learned about football on the sidelines later today or tomorrow.

Travis said...

Kyle's point is a good one. Most people crowding into college campuses on Saturday are there because there will be ample supply of alcohol and strategized violence. Sad but true, as James Hetfield may say.

I love football. It's my favorite sport because at its most basic level is a pure test of wills. I want to go one way, the defense wants to stop me. The test of strength, speed and strategy is now on. I love football because fat people can play it. I love it because it takes true grit and desire. Football players who aren't 100% dedicated tend to not be football players for very long.

But I cannot turn a blind eye to what Kyle is bringing up. Football, and more exactly, the football culture, is highly succeptable to criticism.

Kevin said...

All this discussion has left me scratching my head with one important question: Is there some way I can get some of the alcohol without all the "showboating" and "tits"? (those were Cortney's words, notice the quotation marks to keep me out of trouble)...

Personally, I am more concerned that alcohol is getting a bad name by its proximity to football. Is mine a valid source of anxiety???

"Wherever the catholic sun doth shine,
there's always laughter and good red wine.
At least I've always heard it so,
benedicamus Domino!

Cort said...

Whoa, Kevin. Those were Kyle's words that I block quoted to keep ME out of trouble. :)

And while I chuckled at your comment, I think there is validity there. Due our lack of restraint and moderation as a culture, I do think alcohol gets demonized a bit. It's not inherently evil, but the culture surrounding it (esp in college) is bent on abusing it.

Of course you are a cool wife! :)

R. Justin said...

If there were ads for Fuller's ESB or Sierra Nevada Summer Fest, it wouldn't be so bad. But to listen to that McGinley character tell me he's watching out for "good taste" in "light beer" is pretty annoying. And oxymoronic. And plain moronic, too.