How Football Explains America.


Cover of "How Football Explains America"

Cover of How Football Explains America

The Super Bowl was last Sunday.  Many millions all over the world watching it. This week, I read a book by journalist Sal Paolantonio .  The book is called How Football Explains America.

I started with the first paragraph about all these folks from overseas watching, but remember something.  All attempts to expand the game overseas have failed.  Soccer rules most of the world, commentators have a good point, American Football has violence on the field, soccer in the stands.  Think rivalries such as Rangers vs. Celtic in Glasgow.  Howard Cosell used to complain about American fans.  British journalist Lesley Hazelton told him he didn’t know what he was talking about.

We are getting away from the topic though.  I used to own Franklin Foer‘s book How Soccer Explains the World.  He talked about growing up in the early 1980’s about how suburban parents considered soccer a safer sport and how you wanted to be careful about the role models.  The NBA was going through a period of problems with drug use and abuse.  (The next few years were Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson and Air Jordan).

For me, basketball was strictly a game I played as a social thing with friends.  Baseball was the sport I was raised with.  My parents grew up as Brooklyn Dodgers fans.  Yes, kids, the Dodgers weren’t always in Los Angeles.  🙂

Dad convinced me to be a baseball catcher.  He told me I would have an easier time making the team.  Then I found out WHY you have an easier time.  You hurt in places doctors don’t have names for.

You certainly get more exercise playing basketball, rugby and soccer.  So why has American Football so permeated our society and why doesn’t the game translate to other societies, even though they will watch the Super Bowl?

I suspect they see it as a window to something very American.  Reading How Football Explains America made me realize, our American Experience doesn’t really translate to other societies.

Sal Paolantonio made the point that American Football was created around our Centennial, the year Colorado became a state.  The “taming” and “closing” of the frontier.  It gave young men a chance to let off energy.  Colleges helped draw up rules that separated American Football from Rugby and Soccer, creating a game with fixed strategies and some rules.  More had to be created, because there were fatalities.  Theodore Roosevelt wanted the game to continue, but the casualties had to be prevented.

Pro Football was different.  It wasn’t college kids, but immigrants and their sons, looking to become Americans.  The development of the Quarterback as field general.

For me football is the idea of getting up when knocked down and moving on.  Pure and simple.

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About tucsonmike

I am originally from Brooklyn, New York and now live in Tucson, Arizona. I have discovered a passion for writing. I have five books out now, with a sixth on the way. Take a look @ my book list: The Search for Livingstone An Affair of the Heart The Search for Otzi Griffith Justice in Space. Moriarty The Life and Times of a Criminal Genius Available now on Smashwords - Amazon and Barnes and Noble As to not bore my public with just "Buy my book," I am also interested in baseball, the outdoors, art, architecture, technology, the human mind and DNA. I learned Ashkenazi Jews, of which I am one, have to lowest rate of Alzheimer's in the world. Therefore, I treat my brain as a muscle needing a workout. I enjoy good food, flirtation, beautiful women (I am happily married for thirty years), so just flirting ;) I was considered autistic when I was young, trying to figure out if I have a mild form of Aspergers and learning from that. That is for future posts. You can also see I love history. Enjoy my sarcastic silly look at the world, and making History more interesting than a textbook.
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