Gladiators

I like watching pro football, but I’ve never been able to figure out why college football never did much for me. Just figured it out.

Watching LSU-Oregon on ESPN and a first-year running back fumbled on a play from scrimmage and then the kick return after the resulting touchdown. After the first fumble one of the announcers said, essentially, “that’s what you get for giving a freshman the ball”.

Two problems for me here.

1) Condescending to the people who are paying your salary. There is a hugely profitably industry which surrounds games played by ostensibly unpaid athletes. ESPN’s fourth string announcers should be really happy they have jobs and very kind to the people who arrange for that.

2) Is it just me, or does it seem weird that we should expect any 18-year-olds to have their act together enough to handle playing on national TV in front of 90,000 people?

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Sunday, Sunday, Sunday

In which I attempt to unfold my somewhat odd arms-length relationship with pro football. College football has never really done much for me, though I did feel like the OSU-Michigan game was a bit of home while I was living in South Carolina. It’s NFL week 2, and I find myself wondering what the games are this week even though I probably won’t pay all that much attention to them while they’re on.

I am a man of no team, which makes me an oddball. It’s relevant that I grew up a Cleveland Browns fan in the 80’s, hanging on all the last-second outcomes of the Cardiac Kids. It’s partly a reaction to the emotional trauma of The Drive and The Fumble. (Note, by the way, how much better Wikipedia is at documenting trauma than joy. Best thing in Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch is his realization that fandom is inherently about pain). It’s partly about Bill Belichick dismantling that team as part of his first step toward becoming what he is now. It’s partly about fraking Art Modell. All of this pain is twenty years old, but I still feel it.

I like watching long spirals, and the unfolding of blocking schemes, and a well-run West Coast offense. I like fingertip catches and open-field tackles, and the two-minute drill.

I am not a fan of hype or manufactured drama or advertising which plays on people’s obsessions to sell crap or weirdly frenetic graphical sidebars which purport to provide information but which actually just draw attention away from the game. I’m looking at you, Fox, with your bizarre football robots.

Must be time to check the broadcast map and see what’s on in my TV region.