Football is a stupid game. It needs to be said. As football season in the US approaches, it’s time to point out that the Emperor Has No Clothes. Football is boring, stupid, and pointless.
I have tried to like our brand of football my whole life. I grew up near Chicago where it was da Bears, the Packers and Notre Dame. Every Sunday meant gathering around the TV and watching in rapt attention while a bunch of overpaid behemoths scrimmaged into a pile of sweaty flesh for 12 seconds at a time. The other 17 hours of the game involved 4 announcers telling us what happened during each 12 seconds of play and also what should have happened but didn’t. This mind numbing boredom led to the invention of beer, snacks, and NFL cheerleaders. If it were not for snacks, beer, and broads there would be no football industry. A good test of this hypothesis is to watch your next game without them. Just sit in your recliner and watch the game. No booze, no beer, no Slim Jims, no Frito Pie or any other diversion. You have to just watch the game.
If you truly want to test you loyalty, turn the off the sound so you can’t hear the play-by-snooze and close your eyes when they show the cheerleaders. Just concentrate on the plays. I guarantee you’ll be asleep or ready to slit your throat before the first quarter ends.
High school football was king where I grew up. (Actually it was probably the Prince since I grew up in Indiana and basketball is the obvious king.) I never played high school football. I considered it. For about a minute. You see, I was kind of nerdy in high school. (surprise!) I belonged to the chess club and the math club and the yearbook staff. I got beat up often enough without putting on a uniform and inviting a line of fat guys to crush me. That isn’t a sport. It’s felony assault. I had several friends who played on the team. Not to mention any names, but Herb, Eugene, and Cecil all played on the team. These were three really fine young men. They were polite honest young men who never considered violence as a solution to any situation until they put on “the PADS.” I enjoyed playing “touch” football with these same guys. For you folks out there in the rest of the world, touch football plays by the same rules except instead of knocking people to the ground, you “touch” them and that’s it. At times my friends’ definition of touch was different from mine. On one occasion I somehow had possession of the ball through no fault of my own. I saw Cecil heading toward me, and since he ran with the speed of a gazelle and the attitude of a pissed off rhino, I predicted that this play might not end well. As usual I was right. He “touched” me with his elbow as he hurled past. As I saw the ground approaching my face, I simultaneously heard my ribs cracking as my liver shifted and introduced itself to my left kidney that milliseconds earlier had said hello to my right testicle. I rolled over on my back and stared up into the beautiful autumn Indiana sky. Above me looking down was my gentle friend saying, “Gotcha! You’re down!” I tried to reply with some witty remark but the blood bubbling from my mouth made me a little incoherent. So… that’s a “touch” football game. A game that can make a man as gentle as my friend into Satan’s Stepchild.
When I grew up I moved to Texas and found to my dismay that Texas is even more insane about football than Indiana. I didn’t think that was possible but that was the second time I was wrong in my life. However, Texas gave me the opportunity to expand my horizons and I discovered that in the rest of the world, football is not played with an oblong ball and it’s actually an interesting game.
There are two sports that go by the name of football: US football and World football which we in the USA call soccer. Now I realize that the world and indeed the galactic core truly revolves around the US where soccer is thought of as a children’s game. But thanks to my friend Andy, I had a chance to watch REAL football as it was meant to be seen. At a sports bar, with tacos, and with guys who truly love football. The REAL football. For the sake of clarity I’ll call REAL football “soccer” so as not to confuse my US readers. Soccer is the REAL football because it came first and because it’s rougher, tougher, and better than US football.
Historians tell us football started with the Aztecs who would use the head of the losers as the ball. When Vasco de Coronado came from Spain to the New World and saw the game being played, he was intrigued and decided to tell the queen about it. Eleven months later the postal ship returned with her reply and she advised him to bring the sport home as it sounded like a good time. Unfortunately, because of the long sea voyage back to Spain the head he had stolen from the Aztecs was unplayable. Disappointed, Vasco approached the queen for a solution and whereas she found no volunteers to be the ball they decided to inflate a pork belly and kick it around. Hence, football (or soccer) was born. These historical facts clearly show that soccer predates US football by centuries.
Let’s compare the play of the two games:
As I said earlier, US football is 12 seconds of play followed by endless commentary while they set up for the next 12 second play. Soccer is two 45 minute halves of constant action. The action doesn’t stop unless a player has a bone sticking out where it shouldn’t be. Even when there is an injury the player walks it off while the game goes on. US football stops every time somebody needs their mommy.
Let’s compare the two sports side by side:
Game play: US football generously gives the ball to the ‘offense’ who has a meeting (huddle) about what they would like to do with the ball. They then take some time to get set up and execute their plan. The execution of said plan is an actual 12 seconds of ‘action’. The guys on the ‘scrimmage line’ take one step forward, meet their counterparts and fall down. The guy who has the ball gets to decide to run it or throw it to another player. On most occasions neither decision is successful. They just move the ball forward or backward down the field a few yards and do it all over again. The whole point is to try to move the freakin’ ball just 30 feet closer to the goal. Keep in mind that their goal is the width of the whole field. All they have to do is carry it across the line. If they suck so badly that they can’t move it a lousy 30 feet downfield in four tries, then they have to give the ball to the other team. The other team will debate tactics (huddle) and repeat this process. Who’s yawning yet??
Soccer: Kick the shit out of the ball until somebody tougher takes it away from you. Then you get up in their face and get it back. Move it 40 or 50 yards every few minutes. Offense and defense changes constantly. Put the ball into a 24′ wide by 8′ high goal, not the width of an entire football field. Did I mention they can’t use their hands? Repeat for 90 minutes.
Athletic Ability: There is no comparison. If an NFL team played 90 minutes straight without breaks… Oh never mind, that’s just hilarious, they’d be dead inside of 15 minutes.
Substitutions: US football has unlimited subs in case somebody needs a sandwich, or gets tired, or wants to go potty. Soccer has just three. That’s it. If players leave because of injury or penalty and you use up your subs, then you play short.
Equipment: US football players wear body armor. Soccer players have a thin 6 inch shin guard.
Timeouts: US football has a bunch. Soccer players ask, “what’s a time out?”
Referees: US football refs discuss and debate and watch replays and drag things out. Soccer: Refs call it and that’s it. They suck as bad as US refs but their word is final. It all balances out because they generally suck equally for both sides.
Cheerleaders: US football has them and soccer doesn’t. (OK, maybe that’s not a point in soccer’s favor.) US football needs cheerleaders to keep people watching and distract them. Soccer moves so fast that the cheers would be lost in the action. Seriously, soccer fans, we need to figure out how to integrate cheerleaders into the game.
And finally please take five minutes to listen to one of the great all time comedy monologues from a 23 year old Andy Griffith in 1953. He describes a country boy seeing a football game for the first time.