09 September 2010

Delusional Thursday: 12 questions about kickoff weekend

1. I've recently noticed a lot of men staring at the calender all dreamy-eyed, sort of like the way a woman might act when her wedding day is approaching. Is this possible?

If you're sufficiently delusional, then any observation is at least theoretically possible.

2. I was referring to the behavior. A lot of these men would miss Christmas without at least a dozen reminders. What's the big stink?

The NFL season starts this weekend. And because professional football is such a big stink, the weekend has been specially extended to include the previous Thursday, i.e., today.

3. I'm from a developed, civilized country. Explain to me what your notion of "football" is.

You didn't phrase that as a question.

3. What the hell? Am I on Jeopardy?

Much better.

The basic component is similar to rugby: The ball carrier tries to run forward while his opponents try to tackle him.

Perhaps the biggest difference, and the most unique* feature of football, is that the action is divided into a series of discrete plays. The team with possession of the ball (the "offense") lines up in formation at the line of scrimmage, then tries to advance the ball. When the ball carrier is tackled, the action stops and they form up again. The offense retains possession so long as they can advance at least ten yards in four tries.

Also, the offense is allowed one forward pass (per play) so long as the ball has not crossed the scrimmage line.

4. Then why don't you call it "American rugby"?

Because we also play rugby.

5. Did you know that the other 5.7 billion people in the world have been using the word "football" to describe a completely different sport for many years prior to the development of American football?

Are you telling me that there are 5.7 billion people who are over 150 years old? Balderdash!

5. You know what I mean. It's confusing.

We're not confused; that other sport is called "soccer". It's not our fault you're letting a perfectly good word go to waste.

6. Why must you Americans do that? You stole the name of the world's most popular sport, you stole a calendar date as the name of your independence day, and you ripped off the name of two entire continents for your country.

First, it's not an "American" thing, it's an Anglican tradition. The Plantagenets ravaged the French countryside and sailed back to England with half the French lexicon. So it's a cultural thing, and you should respect culture.

Second, men enjoy setting things on fire a lot more than, say, decorating trees or cooking turkey-- hence "The Fourth of July" with its built-in mnemonic device. (This is particularly useful for comparative arguments, e.g., "How come you forgot to buy me flowers, but you always remember to buy fireworks?")

Third, you're absolutely right and I'm sorry. Henceforth, please call us United Statians.

7. Is football the most violent sport? I've heard that it's more violent than even boxing or bullfighting.

Well, "violence" is subjective. I would argue that boxing is far more violent because the game's objective is to injure one's opponent. As for bullfighting, that comparison is probably considering only the violence done to the bullfighter. If you count animals, then hunting is the most violent sport.

Football does produce the most injuries. But that's hardly a fair comparison to boxing, because a lot more people play a lot more football games.

Also, it should be noted that only a fraction of football injuries result from being tackled. At the professional level, competitive pressure has induced players to develop muscle power that pushes the limit of what joints and ligaments can tolerate. This results in back, ankle, and knee injuries that occur without violent contact, and often with no contact whatsoever.

8. Who's going to win the Super Bowl this year?

If by "this year" you mean 2010, then the answer is the New Orleans Saints.

8. I meant this season.

Seriously, there are waaaaay too many factors involved to make an accurate prediction. In fact, because the competition levels are so close, and because outcomes are at least partly affected by random processes, you can't even say that the best team is likely to play in the Super Bowl.

9. Okay, then: Looking back, who's the best team ever?

Did you even read my last answer? The best team usually wins, but sample sizes (number of games played) are small. Margins and outcomes are only guidelines; ultimate quality is ultimately subjective.

10. Then who's the best player ever?

Jerry Rice.

11. Nothing about subjectivity and sample sizes?

Jerry Rice is so good that not even a standard deviation can stop him. He holds every career record for receiving, yards, and touchdowns in the regular season, post-season, and Super Bowl. Every. Single. One. He holds dozens of minor records, and the record for the most records**.

He's doubly awesome because he wasn't born with great speed or size, but made do with legendary concentration and a work ethic that would shame a Tibetan monk. Teammates a decade younger who tried to follow his grueling workout routine would quickly finish in the company of a vomit bag.

If you jump forward to about 1:57 in this highlight video, you'll see a sample of his work. It's a bit grainy, but if you can't tell, he's catching the ball by it's tail end. That's the football equivalent of catching a mosquito with greased chopsticks.

12. Thanks. I'll put that on my list of things to watch, right after 'drying paint'.

That's not a question.

12. I just don't see the appeal of watching a bunch of guys--


12. What's the difference?

A "guy" is an adolescent male; or a male in his 20's to early 30's who aspires to an adolescent mating status.

A "man" is an adult male, usually over 30, who's overcome Peter Pan syndrome. The designation also applies to younger males who meet one of the following critieria:

* Married with a child
* Married with a college degree and professional career
* Graduate degree plus advanced profession (e.g., physician or lawyer)
* Full-time, tenured work in adventurous/dangerous/manly job, including:
- Professional sports
- Active-duty military
- Logging
- Mining
- Deep sea fishing/sailing (but "summer-only" fisheries workers, for example, retain man status only while thus employed)

If this seems insulting, (1)I don't care, and (2)Keep in mind that "guys" almost always describe themselves that way.

That's actually more interesting than that football stuff. But now I forgot my question.

That's okay, I forgot the answer.

Enjoy the season,

* Yes, I said "most unique". And I stand by my semantics.

** Logically, the count of records would have to be made without including the "most records" record. Ergo, Jerry Rice holds the record for "most NFL records excluding the record for most records". By that token, he also holds the record for most overall records, including "most NFL records" but excluding "most overall records". The recursive process continues indefinitely, which means Rice holds an infinite number of records. Impressive.


Jan Morrison said...

weird but good post. I just need to make a few points.
Hockey is the most violent sport and we americans who are from Canada own that no matter what has happened in the past twenty years.
I appear to be a man having many of the qualities you allude to - except I'm not a male. Awh. I was a logger. I wore women's underwear and hung around in bars but I was a logger. I don't feel like a man, a guy or a lad. My pals of gal variety call what you call a man - a fedora. The younger ones are 'lads'. Jan Morrison

Cruella Collett said...

Hahahahahahaaaah! Oh, boy. This post was almost worth having to use the word soccer and to hear you Ameri.. sorry, United Statians (why does that sound like you're all statisticians, somehow? I think I unconsciously add a c in there somewhere) talk about "football" as though the game actually requires feet. (Okay, maybe it tecnically requires feet, as there is running involved. And a kick every now and then. But still. It's not football!)

Today's second coffee on screen moment came when Jan defined herself as a man. *giggles*

Hart Johnson said...


Oh, Jason, you're fabulous (but you know I think that anyway). I have been chuckling since I started reading, and then got to Jan's comment on being a lumberjack in women's clothing, hanging around in bars and fell off my chair.

And United Statians to me reminds me of Crustatians, which seems somehow apt, in spite of being a crustatian myself. My favorite part though was the second footnote on the ever increasing number of records.

The Burrow said...


1) "The guy does not stop." / Bill Callahan

2) Is the "record for most records" a trivially true rhetoric tautology?

CA Heaven said...

The only odd thing to me is to call a sport football when they mostly use the hands. Anyway, I learned to appreciate (American) football when we lived in Colorado. The only sport which is even cooler to watch is (real) football; some call it soccer >;)

Cold As Heaven

Briony said...

I think guys is more accurate than men here. Real men play football without any armor or helmets (see Australia Rules for an example of real men playing football...)