Archive for the ‘The Problem With Football’ Category

The Problem With Football
February 11, 2008

*NOTICE TO READERS…..(The term “Super Bowl” and all related references to “Super Bowl”, the “Super Bowl Game”, or the words “Super” and “Bowl” appearing congruently in any fashion, are the exclusive ownership of some faceless entity more powerful than any of us can possibly imagine.)

Now that the season is over and the Chargers (sniff) didn’t make it to The Big Game*, we may speak with relative liberty about the biggest drawback in football. What you see is too often not what you get. As football is America’s Most Popular Sport, I’ll try to explain, and then dive for cover. Let’s say the quarterback gets the ball, sees all of his receivers are unavailable, and in a flash of creativity seasoned by experience, decides to tuck and dash for the endzone himself. 20 yards, he runs, and then 40!, 50!, 60!…gloriosky! He scores! He scores!!!! One of the most exciting runs in the history of the s….! Hold it! Hold everything, there’s a flag! Back at the 10.

A high school football coach once told me that an eagle-eyed ref could, if he chose to, call “holding” on almost every play. Some of the most dramatic moments in pro games are during kickoff returns. But rarely is the ball put in play where the receiver is finally downed. There are, after all, penalties to be sorted out.

Of course, the same is true of America’s Most Popular Sport, basketball. But it doesn’t seem to disrupt the flow of the game as much. You hear a whistle as the play is unfolding, and somehow take that into account.

But baseball…ah! The runner touches third and slides home ahead of the tag and he’s…safe! Hate it, love it, cheer, scream, cuss, boo!, he’s still safe. You have to admire the crust of a smug umpire. Having adjudicated chaos ex cathedra, he turns his back on the whole groveling spectacle at the plate, and, amid a hail of boos and booze, simply heads for his car.

‘Course I still watch football. Love the Aztecs. Root for the Chargers. Every year I try to watch The Big Game* . But with the coming of Spring, I confess my mind is beginning to yearn for the kind of certainty and finality that has helped make baseball America’s Most Popular Sport.