Thursday, April 23, 2009

Why I'm Avoiding Football

More and more, I find myself turning away from football. I refer here not to futbol, which is a ton of fun to play and almost mind-numbing to watch. I refer to American football, which admittedly has a lot going for it. It's fun to watch, it's fun to play, and there's a lot of strategy involved in it.

However, I can't shake a feeling that I have about it. There's something that keeps on bothering me over and over. When a player is done with their career, they're done physically. They can barely move anymore. Their hips are destroyed. Their knees need replacing. Their necks are mush. They couldn't pass a physical to get a job at a factory. Baseball players may have messed-up shoulders, and some of them will have some messed-up knees or ankles, but for the most part, they're able to live their lives in relative comfort.

There's something that makes me uncomfortable about watching someone crush their body for my amusement. It makes me feel a little like I'm watching the Roman gladiators fight to the death. Now, I know that health care is really, really good now, so they're not destroying their bodies so utterly that they can't ever do anything ever again. Still, there's something uncomfortable about it, especially when you consider the appalling treatment given to older players.

Plus, football is becoming so overblown. Every game is immediately the "biggest game ever," with slow-motion montages of players running while trumpets blare and the American flag waves in the background. I mean, come on. There's only so much of this heroism I can take at one time, and every week it's blared at you like mad.

On top of that, when there's only 16 games played in a season, you get wacky results. Look at baseball. We're about 12 games in, and there's some teams at the top of their divisions that shouldn't be there right now. You can bet that it's going to change before the season it out. Why? Because the best teams always shake out in the end. It's a game of averages, a marathon and not a sprint. That doesn't always happen in football, and it's difficult to get attached to teams when there's no consistency.

For instance, why do a lot of people hate the Yankees? Is it just because they overspend? No, they overspend and they're usually really good. They have 26 World Series rings. They have a personality that is unlikeable because they're usually consistently good despite how much we hate them. They're the perfect villains in baseball. You don't have that consistency in football. Even the lowly Cardinals got to the Super Bowl last year. How is that consistent, and how does that help teams to develop personalities?

Football has also been slow to admit any connection with PEDs. When we're talking about guys who are 6'4", 230 pounds and run a 4.4 40 yard dash, you can't convince me there's not something extra in the mix. Those kind of people don't just happen, and definitely not in the numbers that we see in football.

It's funny, because as soon as someone hits 50 home runs in a season in baseball, we immediately start thinking of steroids. In football, the hits keep getting harder and the players keep getting faster and stronger, and we don't even blink an eye. Tell me how that makes sense.

Now, for sure, I still keep my eye on football, but baseball was my first favorite sport. It's pretty much right back there again, and I hope it stays.

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