Why So Popular?
Another Football season is about to descend upon us. The time of the year that football fans across the nation live for. In millions of homes, fans will grab their NFL teams jersey and cap and favorite brew and plop down on the sofa with friends for another exciting afternoon of Sunday football. Or for those who can actually afford the ticket prices, it’s another season of tailgating parties, hanging out with 60,000 other screaming fans cheering on the hometown team, and Monday morning hangovers. Of course there are some who could care less about all this ‘who struck John’ football stuff and wonder what the big deal is? I’ve known a few women in my time who actually detest football because they know for the next sixteen Sundays they’ll be hard pressed to get the husband to do anything on Sunday afternoons. How is it that football has become such a fixture in American culture?
Growing up in Baltimore in the 60’s, I was an avid fan of the Baltimore Colts. They played football in an old horseshoe shaped place that they called Memorial Stadium. They had great teams during those years and won a couple of championships. A few years earlier they played in what many people call the ‘Greatest Game’ in the 1958 Championship game against the New York Giants. For me, I think it’s rather silly to call any one game the greatest because there’s been so many great games through the years. What that game did accomplish was capture the attention of thousands of people across the nation, and pushed the NFL to the next level.
The football ritual itself reminds me of a gladiator spectacle. People dress up in crazy costumes, sit out in all kinds of weather, act like raving lunatics to watch a bunch of 300 pound beefy boys bang each other around for the next three hours. No one gets killed at the end, but I notice that near the end of the game when the outcome has usually been decided, the camera’s will oftentimes pan to the owner’s booth, where you’ll get a shot of the victorious owner. With a little imagination, it’s not difficult picturing the owner giving a thumbs up or down to determine the losers fate.
The game itself reminds one of a movie from the Lifetime Channel. You have the good guys and the bad guys. You have the drama of the ups and downs through the course of the game. You also have the umpteen commercial breaks along the way.(By the way, if you really want to see the game from a different perspective, go to one. The constant stoppage of the game for commercial breaks will seem so out of place at the game. You’re sitting there wondering why are they stopping the game now? At home, you’re so accustomed to this, and you use this time for running to the bathroom, refrigerator, etc., but at the game you’re just sitting there thinking enough already, get on with the game). Anyway, the game winds to it’s conclusion, and if it’s really a good production, it will come down to the ‘two minute drill’, where the home team pulls the game out at the very ending. Just like our protagonists in the movie. Usually the good guys win, but not always.
After the game, the people wander home to their homes or neighborhood bars to discuss the day’s events. Usually there’s a game on Sunday Night Football where they can continue to get their fix of football right on to the early morning hours. The next morning is rough for the die hards, and leads one to recall the statement about hoping that you don’t buy a car that was made on Monday, and why. In any event, this goes on for the next sixteen weeks, and if your team is lucky enough to make it to the playoffs, all bets are off.
Yes, the National Football League, or as some would say, the National Felony League has made itself a part of American life and culture. It’s a huge business that millions of fans live for, and spend dearly to be a part of. As for me, I can no longer bring myself to sit in front of the boob tube for hours on end on a Sunday. I’d much rather get out and take a walk in the woods instead. Besides, I can no longer endure the Monday Morning payback as opposed to being a Monday Morning quarterback.