I would like to begin this post by celebrating the fact that Chelsea won the British Premier League this year! Just so everybody is aware, on August 18th last year I wrote on twitter: “Chelsea team is deadly this year” and while some people doubted my statement, I think the results of the BPL prove that I was correct. I told you so ANYWAYS Chelsea really did have an amazing season and I think their success results not only from the abundance of extremely skilled individual players (Eden Hazard is well deserving of his PFA Player of the Year award), but of the ability of those skilled individuals to work as a team. All the players seemed to understand each other and play to everyone’s different strengths and weaknesses, and that allowed them to function as a cohesive unit that always got the job done. In football, it doesn’t matter if you have the most talented player in the world; the capabilities of the team as a whole bring about success. Here is a lovely example that all football fans should understand: Everyone obsessed over Neymar’s talents during the World Cup last year, but reality came crashing down when Germany annihilated Brazil because Germany as a team possessed more strength than Brazil in every area of the game. The absurdity of that game was strangely pitiful yet kind of hilarious to watch, and it just proved that Neymar’s skill alone was no match for the powerhouse that was Germany.
So now I’ve gone on a tangent and I haven’t even mentioned the major theme of this post, so I will briefly sum up my thoughts in order to prevent this post from becoming ridiculously long. Basically Chelsea had an incredible season and definitely deserved to win the BPL this year. I mean look at the standings, Chelsea has a very substantial lead, coming out on top with 87 points while Manchester City, in second, only had 79. And I think it is important for me to mention that I have been a Chelsea fan for a long time now; I’m not simply a bandwagon fan who decided to root for them once I saw how lethal their team was. For proof, here is a photo of my sister and I flaunting Chelsea from 10 years ago.
So now I want to broaden this post to the topic of football in general in relation to another sport. I am no sports fanatic or anything, but I grew up playing a few sports and I enjoy the competition and excitement that accompanies many athletics, so I would definitely consider myself a sports fan. I also recognize the huge influence that sports have on cultures around the world. You can’t understand the Brits without understanding cricket. The same goes for the Chinese and their ping pong, the Canadians and their ice hockey, Floridians and their NASCAR.
Many sports are tightly linked to the culture of different countries, so I would like to compare football, which is arguably the most influential sport in the entire world, with American football, which is arguably the most popular sport in the USA. I use the term “American football” with a little reluctance, because the sport of American football has absolutely nothing in common with real football. Players only utilize their foot for a minuscule amount of time in a game of American football, so why the sport was named that is beyond me. Unfortunately, there is no other name for the sport so I will have to settle for “American football”.
In a way, “American Football” is fitting because the only country that obsesses over this sport is the USA. I don’t even think people in other countries around the world would acknowledge the sport, and I personally wouldn’t consider American football a sport worth acknowledging. That being said, I would like to add that I am by no means an expert on American football. I am not an expert in any sport, so I am giving my honest opinion as a pretty neutral bystander who has watched/played enough sports to grasp the general idea of most athletics. So as an average human who is somewhat knowledgable about sports, I cannot understand the hype over American football.
First of all, the physical qualities of the sport itself don’t make sense to me. There are 11 players on the field at a time, but every play only really involves two players. Besides the quarterback and the person they throw the ball to, everybody else just collides with each other and makes a jumbled mess. I know there is strategy involved in how the players collide, but to me it just looks like a bunch of men falling over each other and pushing each other like angsty school boys while one guy tries to throw a ball before he gets pummeled. In real football, every player is significant to the play. While usually only one or two players handle the ball at a time, they could pass the ball to any other player on the field, making every single person a potential contributor to the play. In American football, with the exception of the quarterback and whoever receives the ball, the other players have no hope of coming in contact with the ball.
I also am not a fan of the significant role that tackling plays in American football. The sole purpose of the defensive unit is to tackle the ball carrier, hence why all players have to wear gigantic, bulky pads and protective gear. First of all, I am greatly opposed to any type of fighting or violence, so when sports incorporate violence as part of the game I am instantly turned off. You will never see me watching boxing or wrestling for fun because I prefer NOT to watch fellow human beings get smashed in the face as a form of recreation. So although American football players wear so much padding, I don’t see how tackling each other to the ground indicates any athletic ability. Sure, American football players are strong, but I don’t view brute strength as a very impressive skill. Real football is much more attractive to me because it requires speed, endurance, agility, and tactical skills in addition to strength and power. Every player on a football field must have a wide range of skills in order to perform, whereas defenders on an American football team just need to be strong enough to tackle the other team. In my opinion, real football players are a million times more athletic than American football players.
One of the reasons why real football players need to be athletic is that football players run an average of 7 miles per game. Depending on the position, some players can end up running over 10 miles a game, and that distance is run on top of all the other actions performed in a game. This is because a football game is 90 minutes long, composed of two 45 minute halves. The game stops momentarily when the ball goes out of bounds or when a foul occurs, but for the most part, the game is continuous. The same cannot be said for American football. Watching that sport is almost painful for me because the game stops WAY TOO MUCH. Players spend more time recovering from a previous play, walking around, and positioning themselves than they do actually playing. It’s as though for every minute of action, there must be 5 minutes of useless meandering around the field. According to a magazine called Runner’s World, the average distance run by a player in an American football game is 1.25 miles, and there are only 11 minutes of actual playing time. THAT IS RIDICULOUS. I ran over 1.25 miles in an elementary school gym class. Also, why in the world would anyone sit through a three hour game just to watch 11 measly minutes of action?
That brings me to my next point, which is not so much about American football itself, but about the culture that surrounds it. American football is the spawn of today’s consumerist society. Because the sport stops so frequently, the media is able to cram in as many commercials as possible and stretch 11 minutes of playing time into a three hour long frenzy of advertisements for cars and beer. What is everyone’s favorite part about the Superbowl? The commercials. I know people who couldn’t care less about sports, but will watch the Superbowl for all the funny ads that make their debut during the event. People literally stare at the TV for the sole purpose of watching commercials. If that doesn’t sum up the ability of consumerism to brainwash Americans, I don’t know what does.
Real football, on the other hand, only has one commercial break during halftime, or two if overtime occurs. Commercials appear only when the players take their fifteen minute break, and when the game resumes, there are no interruptions. The game itself is the priority. The media shapes itself to support the sport, whereas in American football, the media completes, even overwhelms the sport.
So I love real football because of the continuous, fast-paced action that is thrilling to watch. I cannot stand watching American football because there are way too many commercials and any action only occurs for a couple seconds and then the players just walk around for 10 minutes. I think my distaste for American football really intensified in this past year while I worked as a hostess in a sports bar in Tampa. Because my job required a lot of standing around, and tons of TVs playing American football were plastered to every inch of the restaurant’s walls, I found myself mindlessly watching the sport and then questioning why it was even a sport. Maybe it’s because I grew up watching real football, but I seriously cannot fathom why Americans will pack themselves into a bar, get wasted off of cheap beer and scream over a game where players tackle each other for 11 minutes. While real football is by far my favorite sport, I would rather watch ANY OTHER SPORT than American football (except maybe NASCAR). Even golf fascinates me more than American football.
So I will end my rant with this brief statement. Sports are awesome and I have great respect for any and every athlete that works hard to accomplish their goals. Professional American football players have a lot of talent and I commend them for training so hard. It is simply the nature of the game that does not appeal to me, and I will pick real football in a heartbeat over American football.