Yeah, I Miss Football, Too
From the Author: I learned a long time ago that when it comes to sports, people’s senses of humor go wildly askew, and they can’t identify things like sarcasm and irony. These are just jokes, folks.
We’re into the first part of Football Winter. It’s the time of the year when the most beloved of all sports goes into hibernation and we’re forced to make do with “games.”
I’ve been filling my Sundays with friends, family, and the litany of projects I’ve had on the back burner, just waiting to be done.
I don’t like it. I don’t like it one damn bit.
This is bullshit. That’s not what my Sunday afternoons are for. That time is to be spent getting drunk, yelling at the TV, and nourishing a burning, unwarranted hatred for cities I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met. Sundays are for trying to swallow the white hot rage that’s compelling you to tackle the stranger in the Chargers’ jersey, or talking shit to your friends that are Bears’ or Cowboys’ fans.
Sundays were meant for blood and mud, and the NBA, MLB, PGA, and whatever the hell else is going on either need to step up or their game or fuck right off.
Other Sports Need to Start Beating the Shit out of Each Other
With the exceptions of Tom Brady (who is dainty and lady-like) and David Garrard (who is a smoove) every football player looks like Hell after a game. Even the guys who make it to the locker room, get cleaned up, and put on a suit still look like most of them left pieces of themselves on the field. They’ve got a faraway look in their eyes. These are the eyes of men who have seen things.
Peyton Manning looks like someone was stepping on his head for the last four hours. Granted that’s due to the shape of his head, and forcing said shape into a helmet, but the point still stands: everyone looks beat to shit after football.
Basketball players look clean and put together. That’s easy to do when you only play half a game. Who cares about defense, right? Baseball’s a whole lot of standing. Do not get me started on golf. We’ll be here all day, and a lot of my issues with my father are going to come to the surface and no one wants that, RIGHT, DAD?! YEAH! AWESOME!
Here’s how we put the blood into other sports: basketball players get three free elbows, to be used at anytime. You better believe with the looming threat of elbows we’ll see a lot more passing, outside shooting, and smart defense. The kind where you have to stay on the guy because any distance he can get between you is more space for the elbow to build up speed and force. I’d never miss a Laker game if it meant watching Kobe eat a couple of elbows every game, and you’d tune in, too. I know we’re supposed to hate LeBron, and I do (I guess. Basketball sucks) but the man is massive, and watching him throw elbows into smaller men would be hypnotic. Jesus, Dwight Howard could murder three people in one swipe from half a court away.
In baseball, instead of the seventh inning stretch, we have the seventh inning brawl. A scheduled bench clearer where everyone piles in between the pitcher’s mound and home plate and goes to town on each others’ easily breakables. We’ll settle grudges, start rivalries, and with the influx of Latin nations into America’s Pastime, maybe the younger, less capable brothers of men in the UFC will get a chance for a fat contract, too.
Golf will introduce the cart joust as a tie breaker. The caddy drives; the golfer picks his favorite club, and they joust another duo. Maybe do a giant free for all to determine order during really big tournaments. Make that joust a Pay-Per-View event to make up for revenue lost now that Tiger grew a goatee and plays like shit.
The Hockey Conundrum
Hockey should absolutely be bigger in the US. It’s a fast sport, populated by quick, maneuverable players in an ever-evolving car chase that almost always ends in a crash. The players wear armor, and wield weapons like medieval bad asses and if that’s not enough, their shoes are knives.
However, there are two major things wrong with it; first, icing. Much like off sides in soccer, trying to explain icing to the average American causes the explainee’s eyes to glaze over as their brain leaves for somewhere else. Thus leaving the explainer to look like a fucking crazy person who only cares about stupid fringe things.
The second is we don’t have a reason to care. Other sports can be played in every part of the country. Hockey’s not going to catch on in the south or anywhere it’s really warm. The climate can be too demanding for just a few pick up games, and the equipment too specialized. America’s peak of caring about hockey occurred when we had the USSR to hate. We couldn’t go to war with them, though Reagan really, really, really wanted to, so we had to beat them at a sport they loved. And we did, and it was awesome, and Kurt Russell was there.
Now Russia’s no longer our archenemy. They are a vanquished foe that we obliterated not with tanks and jets, but with McDonalds and cassette decks. There’s no reason to beat them, because they’re already broken. The only other nation that gives a shit about hockey that we’re close to is Canada, who is, of course, America’s frenemy.
Every time Canada tries to do stuff with the US, we’re all like, “uh, yeah, Canada, you can come. I guess. You’re not really going to know anyone there, but yeah. Come if you want to be bored or whatever.” The next time you read a story about Canada in the news, try not to roll your eyes.
When dealing with a frenemy it’s a careful balance between seeing them constantly so they realize how much better you’re doing and not giving a single shit about anything that matters to them. That’s why Americans can’t really get into hockey, because simply acknowledging it means Canada wins.
Canada can never win.
Finally, most of us tend to roll our eyes when someone on the football field celebrates. We like to play that we believe in the purity of the sport and decry the excessive jubilation on the field with a, “just play the game!” Until someone on our team makes a monster hit, runs an interception back for a touchdown, or someone goes eighty yards on a run. Then we love the celebration. We like that primal outpouring of victory. The problem with hockey is they only have like two moves. They can stop skating and throw both arms up in the air, or skate on one foot, bringing one knee up and doing a low fist pump. I don’t even know if they still do that, but nothing makes me lose it like a crazed defensive end or line backer coming up off a giant hit flailing their arms and pounding their chest as the blood lust commands.
Only 12 people read my blogs, and none of them are from Canada. If by chance someone from Canada does read this, and is offended and wants to talk shit let me just say: Justin Bieber, Celine Dion, Bryan Adams.
MMA is a Band-Aid
What about the other popular blood sport, Mixed-Martial Arts?
MMA’s great. I appreciate it on the visceral level of blood and brute force because I was raised by video games and the works of Arnold Schwarzenegger, but I also like the strategy involved, the heart, and the careful application of specific violence.
At first glance, MMA and football have a lot in common. They’re both about using violence to accomplish a goal. The majority of the participants are scarred specimens who are, let’s face it, genetic freaks to be able to do the things that they do, but after those initial superficial inspections, things begin to fall apart.
There are a million MMA leagues. Yes, UFC is the big one, but there are a lot of up and comers coming out of places like StrikeForce and WEC which is owned by UFC, but might still be its own thing. Is Pride still around? If so, is it still relevant? Are the rules different across the different acronyms? What about local and regional tournaments? Are they the minors or something else?
It’s hard for a casual fan to jump in which makes it even harder to suck them in because there can be only one truly dominant league. One’s going to have all the talent, because it has all the money. The NFL is the end all, be all, of the game of football. It is undisputed. No one actually cares about the UFL, and I just know some misguided UFL owners think an NFL lockout will be there time to shine. It won’t. Everyone will still not care.
As for the CFL, we’ve already acknowledged that Canada is not for us.
There are big name gyms in MMA and these gyms consistently churn out great fighters, but no one really pays attention to gym, not once the fight starts, because the guy fights alone. If he does poorly he’s not on TV as much, or could get dropped by his sponsors all together, disappearing completely. This makes it hard to follow someone who’s career is just starting out. For the fighters who survive the lean years and become a force, they’ll eventually retire, and there’s not going to be someone else to carry on the Chuck Liddell name. A kid can’t follow the same fighters his dad did. Granted a kid can’t really follow the same players his dad did on a football team, but because the team itself continues on, there is that link to the past. It, in a weird way that only makes sense to sports fans, provides a sense of community and continuity even if the team now has different uniforms, ownership, management, and venue.
Finally, what if the fighter is a total dick or commits a heinous crime? That’s it. He’ll carry that stigma for the rest of his career. If someone in the NFL is a dick or a criminal, the fans can tell themselves that the player, the individual, committed the crime, not the organization. This is also called the Roethlisberger Principle. There was a team before that heinous act, and there will be a team after it.
Here’s where someone, probably being a contrarian for the sake of being contrarian, will bring up rugby.
Rugby’s great. It’s an awesome sport played by crazy people. It is however rugby and not “a better version of football.”
Football is played much faster because, as we’ve already discussed most football players are genetic freaks. They have to be to be such exemplary specimens. There are football players who weigh over three hundred pounds and can move faster than most skinny people on bikes. That is unnatural. It is also a major difference between football and rugby as there are no rugby players that gigantic moving that quickly.
Next someone will bring up pads, and how American football players wear them to not get hurt. Well, given all the concussions we had this year alone, not to mention all the injuries that occur ever year, that’s a dumb argument.
As Chad Bratzke put it, “the pads don’t keep you from getting hurt. They just keep you from getting killed.”
Again, like icing in hockey, trying to explain rugby to most Americans is a lesson in futility. Except the entire sport is icing. Can they kick the ball from anywhere? What’s with the huddle?
I’ll be honest: I knew I lost my dad and grandfather when they started throwing players up like cheerleaders during throw ins.
C’mon, guys. What the hell?
We’ve established that most major sports are either boring (baseball, golf) or filled with lazy pussies (basketball), and that the other blood and violence intensive distractions are either Anti-American (by virtue of being Pro-Canada) or just not as unifying (MMA). There are no true alternatives to football.
How can you cope with the long cold dark of Football Winter on a personal level?
Lies and Damned Lies
This is the year. This is the year your team finally drafts smart, drops the bucks needed to attract proven talent, and learns from their mistakes last year.
Take the off season to pour over stats, and discuss old games with fellow fans and force yourself to think that this is the season you make the playoffs and march into the goddamn Superbowl like a Caesar coming into a Rome at the head of a Triumph.
Chances are, it probably won’t be. How many teams who looked so promising on paper shit the bed this year? Something like almost all of them? How many top seeds going into the playoffs made it to the Superbowl? Maybe one, because the Packers were a sixth seed.
Here’s the cold hard reality of football; no one actually know what they’re fucking talking about. Just ask the Patriots (I’m trying really hard to not play favorites in this blog, but that felt good).
If someone (Peter King) did predict which two teams would be in the Superbowl before the season started, it was dumb luck, and I guaran-damn-tee you that person changed their mind dozens of times every Sunday and Monday night.
But right now, you don’t believe that. Right now you know; you just know, that with a few small tweaks like a new coach (Cowboys), everyone staying healthy (Colts), putting all hope on a decent, not even good, but decent quarterback (Bears), talk less and play more (Jets), or do absolutely nothing except trade good players to another team that made a deep playoff run with them (Chargers), you could win the goddamn Super Bowl.
And you actually do believe it. Until the first game of the season where everything will probably go right to shit.
Talk Some Shit
I’m a Colts fan. My dad’s side of the family are all Bears fans. I know many, many Bears fans from school and work. I have nothing against the Bears and so long as they’re not playing the Colts, I’ll cheer for the Bears.
Unless I’m bored, and there is a Bears fan nearby. At that point I will talk some shiiiiiit. I don’t mean anything by it, but your right as a fan of the game of football, really any sport, is to talk shit about other teams. They talk shit about your team. You talk shit about theirs. It makes the world go round, and right now, when no football’s on, it’s the closest thing to game day when you would go to a bar crammed filled with other fans, or a cookout where your misguided friends are fronting their team’s colors.
If you start to feel the itch, call up a friend who grew up in another city, drink six beers apiece, then accuse his team of buggering dogs, put a bottle of tequila in the middle of the room, and then start swinging. Do it. Feel alive, again.
Violently Tackle Someone
Seriously, it’ll make you feel so much better. The only question is, do you violently tackle someone you know or someone you hate?
Seems like an easy choice, right? Of course you violently tackle someone you hate. It’s cathartic; you won’t hold back; plus, fuck that guy. However, that person will undoubtedly press charges and won’t be swayed by the excuse “Football Madness,” even if you have a note from your Football Doctor. Probably because he likes tennis.
Violently tackling someone you know is more likely to end in forgiveness, and, at worst, a frank and upfront speech regarding your drinking problem.
Be wary though, because if they immediately forgive you, that means game on. They will be waiting for you to drop your guard so they can violently tackle you, probably when you’re waiting in line for coffee, walking your dog, running on a treadmill, or in the middle of making love. You can’t be angry, because you did it first, and everyone of those scenarios ending in a violent tackle is hilarious.
If there’s a lockout and football season is delayed or canceled, I will murder people. Starting with Goodell and then going to town on the owners.
Apparently, if enough of us do it at once, it’s less a murder and more a revolution or counter-revolution. By reading this sentence, you have already agreed to join my murder pact and are already complicit. Lawyer’d.
You’re guilty in the eyes of the law anyway. You might as well get the rush of taking the life of a billionaire who doesn’t want to pay health insurance for people whose job it is to get hurt.
There is Help
Should you find yourself tuning into a basketball game, or letting someone talk you into the quiet reserve and strategy of baseball, call your sponsor. Get help. You don’t have to do this alone.
Posted on March 3, 2011, in Matt Loman and tagged baseball, basketball, football, football winter, golf, hockey, Matt Loman, me talking sports is hilarious, MMA, really matt?, sports, the long cold dark. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.