Friday, November 25, 2011

Things I Know Nothing About Episode 3: American Football

In the spirit of Thanksgiving and in light of recent scandalous events, I think it's time I talk about American football. I'll tell you right now that I don't care for it, which I'm sure is not surprising due to my gender. It should be noted as well that I am an American soccer fan, which means a few things right from the start:
A-I call it Soccer, but I still resent the fact that American Football is called Football.
B- I don't actually follow soccer that closely because I don't have cable and I'm too lazy to pursue such things online.
C- I do not find American football players even remotely attractive.
My experience with American Football is limited. I sometimes watch the Super Bowl, mostly because I like an excuse to eat chicken wings and pizza at the same time, but the idea of making that a weekly habit is really pretty disgusting. I've never been able to actually sit through a game because I find the amount of stopping and starting really annoying and even at the best moments I find the action dull. I know that the players are big and strong and a few of them can run fast and throw far and jump up in the air to make catches, but I am generally unimpressed by what goes on in football. In soccer the best players are always finding new and clever ways to get around their opponents. People do unexpected and brilliant things to get the ball in the back of the net. In football the most interesting thing that ever happens might be that a man holds and ball and doesn't get knocked over by the other men. It is a feat of physical strength but when was the last time someone did something fancy and intelligent? Could have been yesterday seeing as I don't watch football but I guess my point is that the options available to football players don't leave a lot of room for personal creativity. Maybe someone will devise a neat play but the basic moves on an individual level are pretty limited. Throw. Catch. Run. Block. Occasionally kick. Sometimes dance. If you are a football fan please refrain from sending me a description of what actually goes on. I could look that up myself. Obviously I have no interest in filling valuable  storage space in my brain with such nonsense.
So that's my feeling about American football generally, as a sport. Now let's talk about the oddity that is College football. My college did not have a football team. Well, we had a club team that would probably yell at me for saying that, but c'mon seriously we don't have a football team. We have a pretty big deal of a hockey team but their presence isn't particularly pervasive on campus. I happily ignored the UVM athletic department for my 4 years there as well as the additional year I spent in Burlington. They're really only a big deal for people who care about Hockey. Colleges with big deal football teams seem to have a bit more of a "mania" factor coming into play. 
This American Life recently had a show in relation to the child rape scandal at Penn State where they interviewed some current students and community members as well as replayed some interviews they did in 2009 when Penn State was ranked as the #1 party school in the country. The impression I got was that a lot of people who have some desperate need to feel like they are a part of something bigger end up at these kinds of schools. Of course there are people who are there to learn and just take that electric sports buzz in the air as an added perk, but it seems like its just not somewhere you go if you're not planning on being into football. Surely not every  girl in leggings and a hoody*  who partakes in tailgating actually gives a shit about football. I get it. Drinking and screaming can be fun. You could also be doing better things with your time, though, and when an entire student body is wrapped up in the success or failure of the team it seems like a morale catastrophe would always be lurking around the corner. Now, if someone on your teams coaching staff has been raping boys in the locker room and the rest of the staff seems to display some amount of ambivalence about this, I can imagine that it would pretty much run the educational end of things into the ground. It all makes sense. However, the fact that a school can operate in this way is (and I think this is becoming my new catch phrase) completely fucking stupid. 
I know that football makes a lot of money for these schools and funds other programs. I know that football fan alumni donate lots of money. To challenge the supremacy of football at a place like Penn state is to bring on a whole world of trouble. Isn't it just a little silly though that American public universities make a habit of undermining higher education in the name of a sport that NO OTHER COUNTRY IN THE WORLD CARES ABOUT? If we were still America, Lord and Master of Universe, I wouldn't take issue with the college football system, but obviously we are not. We could be trying a little harder to make our college educated population a bit more...competitively intelligent. 
I didn't go to a sports centric school, but I did go a public university and I got the impression that the administration didn't really care how smart it's students were . College could have been more challenging and I would have figured it out. I was grateful that I only had to take one math class but I wish I had the option of taking more math without it potentially affecting my GPA. My opinions on education are an entirely different and time consuming subject though. This is football I'm talking about and it just seems like a silly thing to make a priority of when we as a country are perceived as being a bunch of dum dums. The Ivy League is obnoxious as fuck but its students, who are not necessarily any more capable of learning than any other student, do tend to be more motivated to retain their elite intellectual status. All college students could (and in my opinion, should) carry that attitude, but football works against an intellectually driven lifestyle. Furthermore, because football is so tied in with mainstream American culture, and because mainstream America views intellectual elitism in a
negative light, the institutionalization of football fandom at the University level is a pretty backwards system. But that's just the opinion of a person who doesn't care about football. I'm sure all you superfans could offer precise and intelligent rebuttals to my assertions. Or you would tell me to go fuck myself and then order Dominos. Both are perfectly valid responses.
*Leggings and a hoody with nothing covering your butt is not cute. You don't look super casual and easy going. You look like your thought process was "well I want to be comfortable but I still want grimy dudes to look at my butt."

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