Follow me here. If you take nothing else away from this blog–and I mean nothing else–just make sure you understand one simple truth: football is a savage game.
I’m not talking about soccer (why the hell do they call that kicking game by our name anyways?), or that funny sport they play in Australia. Those games are fine. I got no beef with either pastime. No. I’m talking about our passion, our game. Our national treasure. I’m talkin’ about Football. Outside of the states, you can call it whatever the hell you want – here, just know it as the only game that truly matters.
Truth is, it’s a brutal, violent game. And the fact is that’s where its true beauty lies.
I’m going to assume that you’ve been alive for the past two weeks & don’t need me to explain why football’s top dawg. You know the deal: it’s those incredibly athletic finger tip catches, with the ballerina toe tap at the edge of The Field of Play to stay in bounds. It’s the larger-than-life personality, whose face is on your kid’s cereal box, yet again making one of those take-your-breath-away Big Plays. It’s because of those funny fat man dances that The Nose Guard makes after he sacks the Quarterback. Those even make grandma smile.
Hell it’s those reasons (and a hundred more) that explain why we love this sport. But above all else, it’s that physical, violent war between two armies of Big & Strong Men that make this game so marvelous. And in the clutch, when the fight between two iron wills reaches a fever pitch, the game reaches a state of such perfection – it can seem like time itself stops to watch in curiosity to learn who Wins.
And at it’s foundation, the game of football is barbarity. Absolutely.
The problem lies in the fact that The NFL Commissioner (and to a lesser extent) the corporate sponsors try their damnedest to legislate the ferocity out of the sport. How can this be done?
Obviously, I know the reason why. It’s the head injury stuff. And it damn sure ain’t no laughing matter, because it could end football as we know it. I do understand that. And by default I support keeping The League solvent, because this is the game we love!
That being said, you can change the strike zone. You can throw college boys out of ballgames for headhunting. Fine. But what you can’t do is make a nasty game nice. Football by nature is mean & disagreeable.
That will never change. As long as 22 men line up across from one another with the intent of attack at the snap of a ball, football will be violent.
But we need that violence!
Follow me here.
The Ultimate Manifestation of Male Aggression
This is a game of grit, as evidenced by the way our culture holds ballplayers up as the epitome of male dominance. Whole generations of young men grow up emulating this or that Player.
Because of how a given dude excels on The Gridiron (who the hell came up with that name anyway?). You know exactly what I mean. Only the best of men can compete at the sport’s highest level – where 200+ pound men can literally run faster, jump higher, and lift more than any human being you’ve personally met.
And these men have license to do what virtually none of us can in our ordinary lives. That is, they can succeed over their competitors in a context rife with viciousness. Only on The Football Field, unlike most other areas of life, can aggressiveness be rewarded.
But off The Field, that aggressive nature can lead to trouble. As we know all too well. But in those 60 minutes, a man in a uniform is encouraged to meet (and best) his opponent’s aggression.
And since we civilians can’t roam the land in such a manner, we live vicariously through our Favorite team and/or Players. This is an important outlet. Because men need to release their natural aggression in a healthy, acceptable manner. Sundays allow us to do that.
Football is Mock Combat
The true genius of the game is how it effectively mimics combat. I don’t say this lightly. I know combat is no laughing matter. It’s serious business. Of course.
And our game metaphorically allows us to engage in combat. Think about it. Gamedays pit a given team with its colors, its battle cries, and all of its supporters in tow clashing against another identical group in a similar manner. Not only are the teams competing with one another, but they essentially represent their tribe. Their community. And all of the teams compete with one another to determine a champion. Hell, it’s almost like modern day feudalism.
And this happens at all levels. In some areas, High School Ball is even more serious than Pro. Precisely because it represents everything mentioned here, and the spoils are Won over your neighbors.
I can’t speak for other countries since I’ve only lived here. But in america, there is a definite need to do battle with your neighbors. And football is the perfect outlet for it. The physical nature, in my opinion, exorcises one group’s need to physically dominate another.
Nowadays, that happens on a sports field at the end of every work week.
Football Establishes Identity
Another great aspect of our game is that it can forge a lasting identity for an individual Player or community.
Let’s be honest here: all men may be created equal, but they are not all treated equally. For instance, would you chill with Peyton or Eli Manning if they were accountants? Probably not. But as ballplayers, those guys are icons in american society.
Much the same way Doug Williams will always be thought of favorably around here. Hell, he could cheat on his taxes & I’d still think he was a good guy that made a mistake. Why? Because Dougie Won us a Super Bowl! And those trophies don’t expire.
Here though, the benefit is twofold. Successful Football Programs are lionized in this country too. And that can bring confidence to an entire community. Why else would anyone give a fuck about Boise, Idaho(Boise State) and Green Bay, Wisconsin(The Packers)? I don’t know about you, but if no football was being played there, then I would never wanna go. Same with Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Minneapolis, Minnesota.
If any of these locations were titans in horseshoes or horse racing, no one would pay them the respect they earn today. No, it’s excellence on The Gridiron that gives these places their name.
Kicking ass in a tough sport means something.
None of it is possible if we’re talking about baseball. And I love baseball. But it’s Football that I live for!
And it’s precisely because of its brutal nature that the game is so popular. Sure if your hometown was known as the shuffleboard capital of the world, or your high school was the reining National Champion in wrestling, you’d be proud of that. Hell, I know I would. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Other sports have their place in the pecking order. No doubt.
But football is king. Yes it is still the king. Because there’s nothing like watching your team physically whup another team’s ass and hoist a Super Bowl Trophy for it.
Trust me, I know exactly what that’s like. And I’m a Diehard today because of it.