Football Musings

A Few Words on the Greatest American Sport

Our long dark offseason has ended with the playing of of the Hall of Fame
game tonight. With that starts another season of the greatest American game,
football. Not that game with the round ball, the game with the egg shaped one.
I love football and many people think that is an aberration of my character. I
want to explain why I love this sport so much. So its time for my favorite
organizational structure, the numbered list.

1. I love the violence.

I am not going to pretend that football is not a violent game. Last year you
could literally hear the screams of a player tearing up his legs on live tv. Some of the most
entertaining plays in the sport involve the big crushing tackle from behind,
the power of players running over one another. This in fact could easily be the
downfall of the sport as it probably leads to long term
. Despite that, it is supremely entertaining to watch huge burly men
run into each other all day long. It is nothing refined, just pure, base,
animalistic love of violence.

2. This is a team sport.

All the other major sports in the US (baseball, hockey, basket ball) are
team sports too, but football makes full use of the team. Each play has 11
players try and work in unison to accomplish one goal. I do not mean to
diminish the team play of other sports, but no other game has so many players
working together at one moment. Football is a game the celebrates the
accomplishment of a team first and a star player second. Sure we all hear of
famous individual football players, but the actual impact these players have is
the least amongst professional sports. Tom Brady may be the best QB ever, but
if his receivers cannot catch or if his offensive line cannot give him enough
time, the team will lose every game. Plenty of other sports focus too much on
the individual or allow them to have too much of an impact. Basketball in
particular is notorious for this. A real good player can make or break your
team. Not so in football, it is all about the team working together.

3. This is a game of strategy.

When you have so many players on the field at once it can be a challenge to
get everyone working in concert, but that is the best part of football.
Watching 11 people (the offense) work in unison to accomplish a common goal is
amazing. Even better you can watch 11 other people (the defense) try as team to
mess that up. And this happens ever play. Plenty of other sports play lip
service to the idea of their game having strategy, but their game is so fluid
that it is hard to actually setup a play. To pick on soccer for a second, you
can see the players try and setup, as a team, favorable situations, but
everything is just moving so fast no one can really do anything but try and win
their individual battles. Football stops, resets, and lets each team make a
play. This allows a huge variety in plays a team can run, formations a team can
field, feints, and fake outs they can make. More diversity than all these other
sports means more options which means more strategy can be brought to the

4. Each play has many layers.

When you watch a play in football, on the surface, the actual facts of the
play are very straightforward. Someone throws a pass and it gets dropped,
someone tries to run the ball and gains a yard or two. The actual enjoyment in
these not so showy plays is in in the details. Here is a
dense example of that
. The thing to know is because football is such a team
game, tiny individual actions by each player combine to make big plays, or
small failures. In the example of a dropped pass, you can see the receiver
dropped it, but it really was not his fault because the QB had to throw it
early, he had to throw early because his offensive line was not able to give
him enough time to find better people to throw to, specifically it was the
fault of one player who could not block his assignment. All this detail happens
each play and happens to every player. It is that detail that makes both the
replay so satisfying to dissect and the actual play so complicated to

5. True league parity.

Every team in the NFL has a chance of winning the Super Bowl. This is
because the league works real hard through salary caps, drafting rules, and
trade agreements to ensure each team has a level financial field and an equal
opportunity to acquire and hold on to talent. This ensures that team that were
bad one year have a good shot at coming back the next year. A perfect example
would be the Chiefs who went from 2-14 in 2012 to 11-5 in 2013. Plenty of other
leagues are not so successful in this endeavors and it ensures teams wallow in
mediocrity for years. Not so with the NFL which means more exciting close
fought games and respect for a fan that sticks with a team in good and bad

So here is to another exciting season and to watching the New England
Patriots win the Super Bowl again.