Despite a total lack of knowledge, mental investment, and simple giving-a-shit-ness, a good friend of mine goaded me into joining his Fantasy Football League. My ignorance was exposed during our draft, when I selected a guy with a season-ending hernia in the fifth round, to the delight of everyone who paid some modicum of attention to the NFL. It's a safe bet that if you select a guy whose intestines have fallen into his ballsack, you're probably going to lose.
Knowing this, I still decided to give football another try yesterday. Because, you see, like most red-blooded American males, I'll watch a football game, but unlike most, I'm not really that interested. I prefer the hectic artistry of basketball, the sweaty Victorian ridiculousness of tennis, the divine boredom of baseball. Football is forty seconds of replays, screaming, and some robot dancing over a Chevy ad, followed by three seconds of action, followed by more replays, screaming, and robots doing "The Lawnmower" next to a Ford ad. Rinse, lather, repeat.
But still, I'd decided to follow along. Because, really, all fantasy football is is an excuse to send vulgar, expletive-laden emails to your friends while they're at work. I can get behind that. Indeed, I don't need an excuse to do so, though sometimes, I like having a reason. And what better reason than feigning knowledge about a sport I tolerate from afar?
So I sat down to watch. I figured, maybe there's something I'm missing. On a fundamental level, sumo-sized ubermenches running into each other at dramatic speeds then going to the sidelines to breath oxygen out of tubes is funny. So is constant and excessive celebration. I imagine wide receivers at home, putting the salad fork in the correct place, then performing an elaborate, three minute jig.
But, actually, now that I think of it, that's my problem with football: it seems so...joyless. Everything feels scripted and stilted. Teams have massive playbooks and quarterbacks have radios in their helmets and everything's so painfully thought out that the moments for improvisation are slimmer than in other sports. I want to be wowed by fantastical athleticism rather than clock management. I want reaction, not action. And while I realize that football allows for some impressive displays of speed, acrobatics, and bludgeoning splendor, it so often devolves into failed play after failed play after commercial break after commercial break that I have trouble sitting still for an entire half. I start with the best intentions before suddenly, poof, I'm playing online boggle.
So yes: I failed. I failed Sunday, thinking that maybe, like broccoli or jazz, football would be something I understood and enjoyed as I got older. It didn't. I'm sure I'll end up watching the Superbowl like every other human on planet America, but it will be as a mere bookend to yesterday's failure of understanding. You can't like everything, even if you try.