Monday, September 08, 2008

My Football Experiment

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.


Mara said...

Wow, thanks for explaining to me exactly why I can't get into football.

Anonymous said...

watch soccer! and yes, i am being serious. watch a good english match and you'll get all you're missing. unscripted and pure athletic action, human error, true exhibitions of passion and reaction. heck, there aren't even video replays allowed for referees to examine, let alone helmet phones.

birdmonster said...

Mara: You're welcome? I sincerely wish ping-pong were televised in the same way. I'd never leave my couch.

Anon: I actually spent my salad days and all my high school life playing soccer. Those were the years of my life when I could run for more than five minutes without doubling over, of course, where now even wiffleball leaves me in crippled agony.

At any rate, I do watch futbol when possible, though, without cable, soccer is confined to MLS (laughable) and the World Cup (fucking bananas). I find soccer like baseball in a way: a sport that is far more enjoyable when you understand it and one which paradoxically rewards your boredom: A nil-nil game in the final minutes is incredibly exciting in the same way that a 9th inning 1-1 baseball game can be.

To bad America is a shameful, shameful soccer nation. I blame Alexi Lalas.

Gaurav said...

Suggestion: college football

It involves more spectacular feats of athleticism, it's less scripted, has less filler material, and happens on Saturday, so it's boozier.

S said...

My boyfriend had a hernia in highschool.
He played a whole season of soccer through it.. until finally he got surgery.
What a man.

sara said...

oops that was supposed to say Sara not S.
oh well.

Anonymous said...

Good points on all accounts re: my soccer post. It helps to have Fox Soccer Channel, but it does kinda suck to the pay the bit extra at the end of the month for it. I also agree with the guy who said college football. I'm not a huge fan of watching football in general, but college is always more entertaining than the overpaid guys in the NFL. And yes, it is always Lalas' fault.

PS. Congrats on the new album, been enjoying it!

SOL's view said...

And now for something completely different! Try Oz football. Rugby league to be precise, not Australian Rules.

Athleticism, less filler, happens on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Video refs, no radios, little body padding.

And heck on the weekends, you even get to watch them booze. If you're in the same pub that is. Failing that, you can see the replay on the news.

Me??? I hate football....

dkdkdk said...

San Diego....Super Chargers...San Diego....Chaahhhhgers!

birdmonster said...

Gaurav: I like the "boozy" part and, in general, the hecticness of collegiate athletics. Maybe I'll give it a try. I went to UCSB, who did away with their football team after they realized stoned beachbum don't care about sports.

Sara: Damn. I can't even play banjo with a hangnail.

Anon: Your Lalas hate pleases me. He killed the best US team of my lifetime with him carrot-topped ineptitude. Ugh. I can't even think about him without getting angry. (and thanks for the love).

SOL: Rugby confuses me. I don't understand why play stops. All of a sudden, dudes stop pummeling each other, get in a scrum, and restart, but I can't really figure out why. I think it has something to do with the loss of forward momentum, but I could be wrong. I like the overall bloodiness of the thing though. I crave violence.

DK: You missed the last (and best) lyric. It goes: San Diego...Supe-ah Chaaargers/ San Diego...CHAAAAAHHGERS CHARGE!!!!

That large "Charge" really gets me going.

birdmonster said...

* his carrot-topped ineptitude, as it were.

Anonymous said...

There are few things more beautiful in life than college football rivalries, "sumo-sized ubermenches running into each other at dramatic speeds", 4th quarter comebacks, and ladanian tomlinson . If you are lucky to come across such a thing, cherish it.. cherish it always. tat.

Jim Tenuto said...

In the interest of historical accuracy, you would be citing the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Also, with the Mad Corporal having already plunged Europe into war the 1940 Olympics were never held.