04 January 2006

American Football: Rugby for Girls

I don't know how or why American Football came to be. The reasons are probably incidental. There are, however, quite a few things that seem completely bonkers through the North Atlantic haze.

1. Why is it called "Football"?
Only one guy can kick the ball, and you have to stop the game to bring him on. In order that he can swing his leg above ankle-height, he is only lightly encumbered by body armour.....

2. Why do they have to wear body armour?
I know America has more gun crime than everywhere else combined, but do athletes really have to wear bulletproof vests when competing? I guess not, or the record for the hundred meters would be a fortnight, rather than sub 10 seconds. Plus, American Football predates a prevalent gun culture. Overprotective parents? Well, your ancestors moved to a new continent to start from scratch; not the actions of a risk-averse group of people. Rugby manages to do without it, although shoulder pads have started to creep in. Maybe that's how the rot starts: it starts off with shoulder pads and ends up looking like Rollerball. Or Dynasty..

3. Special Teams
I know America is chock full o' big people, but there must be more constructive ways of utilising them than having nineteen different groups of players who are wheeled out each time their speciality play comes up. For example, the Roster of the Dallas Cowboys lists over sixty guys, to make up a team of 11. There's an O-ffensive Team, a D-fensive Team, a Kicking Team, a "First and Ten" Team, a " Fourth and Inches" Team, a "Look Behind You!" Team, you name the situation: they have a team. And no player can be on more than one team. Otherwise there would be more fat people in the stadium than on the pitch, which would be stupid.

4. Time
A game lasts one hour, split up into four fifteen minute "quarters". However, elapsed time is anywhere from six to eight weeks, because every time the ball hits the ground, the clock stops. Another peculiarity in a "Football" game. This is necessary, because the linemen, each of whom weighs in excess of five hundred of Ronald McDonalds finest pounds, can only move for short periods before having to stop for a fag, at which point they bring on the next eleven guys after their fag break. Basically the two groups of linemen crash into other like elephant seals and have quick wrestle before collapsing. It looks like the final of the Robot Sumo Championships, or an earthquake in the Giant Weeble factory.

5. Statistics
In order to fill the time while they wheel off the knackered elephant seals and wheel on some fresh ones, the commentators, of which there are always three, one of whom Shall Be Named Bob, throw statistics at us. It stops short of minutiae like "Kilos of Lint found in LineMan Belly Buttons" and "Number of Revolutions by Spiked Ball in End Zones", but not by much. So here's some real ones;
Time spent by Player on field of play: 10 seconds
Time actually spent moving about: 1 second
Proportion of Gameplay to Advertising: 0
Number of Commentators with own hair: 0
IQ of Viewer Expressed as Percentage of Advertising Revenue per Minute of Gametime: Who knows, or cares, or would understand, but they'll still tell you.

6. Rushing
"rushing"? Is that the same as "running"? It is, isn't it? So what was wrong with "running"? Didn't that convey speed enough for you? "Hey Jerry Rice, how's your Uncle Ben? Can't stop now, I'm in a rush!". While we're at it, why did you change "pants" to mean "trousers"? You're just confusing everyone. What do you call your underwear, "epidermis"? That's the next layer down, isn't it? "Yeah, just got me a pair of them new Calvin Klein epidermis from K-Mart".

As I have clearly demonstrated, it's a very silly game. So, you are faced with two options. Either go back to your "rootz" and ditch the Kevlar, or go for it Yankee-style, strap on some spikes, get some internal-combustion wheels and do it properly. Then, ditch the whole stadium / teams / advertising malarkey and play wild across the whole country. You could call it.....oooh, "America".

What do you mean, you already have?


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  2. Some of my own opinions on American football, Rugby, and proper football (mostly about the last of these):