Are we too connected to the sport we love?
Published: Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 15:09
I was going to write about partisan politics today. But after two weeks of speeches and conventions, debates and platforms and lies, I don’t think I am alone in saying that I’m fed up for the moment. No, today I sat down in front of a football game and tried to write about politics, but my mind just would not stay on it. Instead, I began to think about football. About the sport, its position in society and the emotions it evokes in its followers. I arrived at some interesting conclusions.
To start off, I am a huge football fan; front row Bison games, tailgating maniac and a devoted Packer fan from the age of six. My father coached football for nearly two decades, and I played as a linebacker and offensive tackle for my high school team. “Friday Night Lights” is the best football movie ever. And I indulge in fantasy football. So writing what I am about to may make me a hypocrite, but I’ve made peace with that.
Being a devoted football fan takes an inordinate amount of time and energy. You have to do your reading and research. There are scores and scores of football pundits and writers, entire television channels and radio stations devoted to endless football discussion and coverage. Professional sports in America get nearly as much media coverage as governmental politics. Nearly.
On game day, you have to stay tuned in. I found myself in my living room today, facing a television with a game on, laptop open on my lap, with my fantasy team’s scores open in one tab, my fantasy league overview open in another and the front page of ESPN.com on yet another. Twitter was plastered with tweets about the Vikings game. It was hilarious, really – one minute, everyone is cursing the Vikes and moping about another bad season, the next everyone is a number one fan again as the team put together a miraculous comeback.
And then, as that disappointing performance the Packers put on unfolded, I found myself getting emotionally caught up. You can ask my roommates; they will attest to how entertaining/incredibly annoying I get on game day. Whooping and hollering for first downs, big stops, and touchdowns, coupled with the most abhorrent stream of curse words anyone has ever uttered for bad play calling, poor officiating and straight up cruddy football – and all of it is at the top of my voice. And when the Packers’ day went down the drain, so did my own.
And as I walked to campus to sit in the sunshine, put some Atmosphere over the headphones, and type this column, I had to stop and think. Why should the antics of eleven enormous men in the most ridiculous looking uniforms on my television screen dictate how my day does and does not go? Admittedly, when the Packers do win, I feel nothing but euphoria for the remainder of the day. But how real is the joy we feel that results from watching what amounts to a three hour television program (obviously excluding games we attend)?
Perhaps we are all just a little bit too connected to the sport. For those that have seen “Friday Night Lights,” you know that there are people who take football too far. Unless you are a coach or a player, football really shouldn’t take over your life. For fans, the value of the sport lies strictly in entertainment – we get nothing more out of it than the thrills of victory and defeat.
I am going to take a lot of flak for writing this column. I imagine some of my friends will scoff at this even more than my (apparently) overwhelming and stifling political punditry. But I think it has to be said. Football is just a game folks. Love it, enjoy it, support it, but don’t let it take over. When the game is done, the last pass thrown, and the last whistle blown … life goes on.
Nathan is a senior majoring in landscape architecture. Follow him on twitter @nwstottler.