To be frank, sports most definitely isn’t my forte. That’s mostly why I’ve never written for the Sports section of this paper.
Competitive athleticism just doesn’t click with me. Not even the rising wave of eSports and professional gaming that’s been coursing through America these past few years has given me an iota of interest in anything remotely sporty.
Still, when I think back on the idea, I convinced myself it probably wasn’t fair to think that way if I’ve never even stepped foot into the world of professional sports. Despite my initial lack of intrigue, it wouldn’t hurt to try watching at least one game, right? Football season was just around the corner, so that seemed like a good place to start.
To gain some sort of foundation, I decided to read the basics of how a football game goes down. The official NFL website actually had a page listing them, which for some reason surprised me. They also had the entire rulebook and changes for the 2015 season, but nobody has time for that.
I was feeling a little guilty though, since I realized I was being a bit pretentious about the whole endeavor—I needed to be more objective—minimize any initial biases.
It was Week 2 of the NFL season, so I decided to look for some recent games to watch on my laptop. There were multiple matches found, but I decided to watch the one between the San Francisco 49ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. I barely knew anything about football, but was at least familiar with the 49ers who represented my hometown.
“Alright, let’s do this,” I thought to myself. “I’m ready for some football!”
Oh dear God, what did I subject myself to? For the first sixty seconds of me attentively watching NFL football, ever, I was dreadfully scatterbrained. My thoughts jumped everywhere.
“Wait, what is that guy saying? What are those hand gestures?”
“Oh, there’s a toss in this game? Like basketball? Oh yeah, it’s called a kickoff…right?”
“I don’t know any of these names. What are those stats even?”
It went on like this for the remaining one hour and 59 minutes of the game.
I couldn’t help but stare blankly at the screen with an expression of discomfort and bewilderment as to what was going on. There were so many tackles; so many times the wide receivers and running backs worked with the quarterbacks and the rest of their team to try to score a touchdown. There were so many gestures being made by the referees that it got to the point where I was convinced most of these signs didn’t have any meaning, and the refs were just flailing around to look important as well. It was repetitive. It was monotonous. It was something that made my perception of time slow down to a snail’s methodical trudge.
This little football adventure of mine wasn’t going anywhere. Considering how most professional football games have the ball in play for only an average of 11 minutes for both teams combined, it made sense why the game made me feel like I was waiting for something that wasn’t going to be satisfying.
But, to my astonishment, it did get better. I saw how massively technical football was, especially when the camera cut to the referees who I was ridiculing so much. From the slow motion replays to the constant whistling, there was such an intricate system with several rules and judgements—not just guys tackling each other over a piece of pigskin. Every time a team got closer to the end of the field, the stadium cheered. When a team scored, my feelings shifted from a despairing grind to a suspenseful and climactic burst of exhilaration.
I understand now why so many people enjoy watching football. Some games can be slow, but it’s always that wait for progress—for a player to score a touchdown or get so enticingly close to it before he gets tackled by the opposing team. There’s so much suspense in the anticipation of a touchdown.
However, while I don’t have such a skewed view towards sports anymore, football still isn’t for me. There’s just too much waiting around. The excitement dies down faster than it can be brought back up again, and I’m someone who wants something that’s constantly going on. At least now, when I have family gatherings during the Super Bowl, I won’t be gritting my teeth.
While this particular sport hasn’t worked out for me, I certainly have a few more options to explore. I think I’ll try watching some soccer. I used to think David Bekham was pretty cool. Wait, he’s still playing right?